Category Archives: Grammar

Verbal Secrets

Shhhhhh. Keep this under your hat. Some German verbs are living a lie, hiding a terrible Geheimnis.

This is a lesson from the VHS. Some verbs objectify a little oddly for our tastes as native English speakers. Saying “*Ich helfe dich” would earn you an urgent stage-whisper from the instructor: “Psscht! Was ist das Geheimnis von helfen?!1

For some of these verbs, you can sort of see a reason for another object in the English translation’s use of a preposition. For others, there is just no discernible reason for these verbs to force their objects into case-drag. Continue reading

  1. Oddly, the German subtle attention-getter is not “Pßt!” []

Intransigent Intransitives

Do you feel like a Depp when you get your past tense verbs wrong? If you’re lucky, your colleagues will gently correct you.

ich: “Du hast mich aus den Gedanken *gereißt!”1

sie: (sheepishly, as if it were her fault) “Gerissen.”

I am thankful for those colleagues who have the courage to suggest a correction. I hate needing one, but I hate that less than finding out I needed one, but didn’t get it. Continue reading

  1. I got reisen and reißen confused. []

Genitives and Switch-Hitting Prepositions

These two groups of prepositions might be harder for the native English speaker to learn because there’s pretty much no analog to any structure in English, or there just seems to be no rhyme or reason for when a preposition takes an accusative or dative object, or when it might get funky and place itself behind its object for Schisse und Gekicher, and whether going post-position like that changes the specified case of the object or not!

Wait… what? Continue reading

DOGFU and the Datives

Learn these prepositions, and learn ’em good. Know that you can count on these two groups of prepositions. They stick to their guns. They are dependable. They won’t let you down. All their objects come out inflected as though they were being used as direct objects (for the DOGFU group) or indirect objects (the datives, further below). What’s all this Dative and Accusative mess? Continue reading