5 tiny German words that once learned will make you feel integrated

By now we all know it, whether through our German class or in our everyday encounter with native speakers, German is a tricky language to master. One of the reasons is surely its very, very extensive vocabulary. Yet not all of the words are as long as a sentence, some are very small and although seemingly insignificant at first they are actually the indicator of your proficiency in German. We are talking about those small words that once heard will make you long to learn and use in a conversation, and that will make you feel very satisfied when you’ll say them at the right moment.

  1. Doch

It is a conjugation that has a similar meaning to “aber” (but, yet) and can be used as a reinforcer to many sentences. As a single word ,however, it indicates a positive answer to a negative question. i.e. “Didn’t you go the movies yesterday?” … “Doch!”

  1. Genau

One of the first German words we usually learn and it means “exact, exactly”. Germans commonly use it to show that they are attentive to what their interlocutor in saying. Being one of the easiest and simple words, it is very common for people approaching the language that they’ll hear themselves use it and abuse it in any given context.

  1. Achso

This is an exclamation that Germans used to affirm (to great surpise) that they have finally understood what wasn’t evident before. In English the equivalent would be something like “Ooooh! Now i get it!”. i.e. “Isn’t Tim the collegeau you fought with? Achso!”. When you’ll start, it will be very hard to quit.

  1. Krass

It is an adjective that means “extreme” in the colloquial jargon of the Deutsch youth. It sort of took the place of the former cool and geil (strong) to convey something, ha!, a bit more extreme. Krass may be a night at the Berghein as much as a visit to a concentration camp. Learning how to use it is indispensable to demonstrate one’s linguistic proficiency when facing a native speaker. The risk? Everything that happened to you “Es war richtig krass!” (was really extreme!).

  1. Spontan

Germans are notorious for the pleasure they take out of planning. At times, though, they also enjoy being spontaneous, or, spontan. “Do you know what you’ll be doing this weekend?” … “I don’t know, I’ll be spontan!”


Cover photo: “Voll Krass” © Oliver Ponsold – CC BY SA 2.0

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