10 useful German expressions for everyday life

German can seem tough at first listening (sometimes at the second too…), but with study, practice and commitment you can get great results and become fluent speakers. At this point, there is still one step to go through that will make the difference: learning common expressions of the spoken language, those that almost never appear in grammar books, but that are very useful when interacting with native speakers. As follows is a list of German expressions to learn by heart selected by Matador Network.

1. Das ist bescheuert – It’s ridiculous!

The literal translation of bescheuert is “insane” or “crazy”, but in everyday language this term is used negatively, to indicate something that you don’t like. For example: if you organized a barbeque in the park and it starts to rain, “das ist bescheuert” is the correct exclamation.

2. Na? – So…?

Amongst people you know very well you could use it to substitute the classic “how are you?”. A second use of the expression is to ask (indirectly) how something went, for example the result of an exam: “so? (how did the exam go?)”. “Na” must not be confused with “na und?” which could be translated into “so what?”, which has a more provocative and intolerant tone.

3. Das is mir Wurst – Doesn’t interest me / What do I care

Literally it means “for me it’s sausage”, but the meaning is “it doesn’t interest me”, “what do I care”, “it’s the same for me” up to the stronger “I could not care less”

4. Ich besorge das Bier – I’ll get the beer

Besorgen means “to take care of” or “to get something”, more informally, and this is what it is meant in this expression. “Ich besorge das Bier” is definitely very useful in a nation where Beer is the most popular drink (as we talked about in this article).

5. Kein Schwein war da – Nobody was there

Schwein means “pig”, but this noun is used in different German expression and assumes a completely different meaning: in some cases it is employed derogatorily whereas other times it is used in a colorful and emphatic way. Some examples:

Kein Schwein hat mir geholfen: “nobody helped me”

Armes Schwein: “poor thing!” (in a compassionate way)

Schwein haben: “to be lucky”

The term appears also in some neologisms:

Eine Schweinearbeit: “a hard work”

Das kostet ein Schweinegeld: “that is excessively expensive”

ATTENTION: if you scream “Schwein!” at someone, you are still calling them a “pig”.

6. Der spinnt – He’s crazy

In German the verb spinnen means “to spin”, but in the course of evolution of the language this verb has also become a synonym of “being crazy”. It is thought that this meaning to spinnen might derive from the fact that years ago spinning yarn was a hobby conceded to patients of mental health institutes.

7. Langsam langsam – Little by little

The translation of langsam is “slowly”, and when it is employed as langsam langsam it conveys the proceeding little by little, one step at a time.

8. Das kannst du deiner Oma erzählen – Tell your grandmother

Literally. And you can use it to reply to your friend when they’ll promise you that this weekend they won’t touch a drink!

9. Null acht fünfzehn (0-8-15) – In the average

0-8-15 was the standard rifle used during the First World War. This concept has remained in the spoken language as a synonym of mediocrity, used in the valuation of something that remains below average. For instance, “wie war der Film?” “ach, null acht fünfzehn”

10. Ich habe die Nase voll davon – I’m sick of it

The literal translation is “my nose is full”, to indicate when you are fully fed up of it (like Anastasia sang). For example: “ich habe die Nase voll von seinen Lügen” (I am sick of his lies)
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Are you new to German and you’re starting to get intrigued? Or have you already studied a bit and you wish to perfect your knowledge? Then take a look at the German courses that Berlino Schule organizes in the heart of Berlin!

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