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A Blog About Teaching The German Language

Find out more about the German language, the importance of understanding its grammar and about my German language lessons. I'm Jens. Founder and director of Olesen Tuition, a language tutoring company specialising in teaching the German language. I have over 20 years of experience in my field and have successfully taught thousands of clients. On this blog, you will find out more about me, my lessons, and the German language.

How to negate in German. On nicht and kein and where to place them in a German sentence

Who would have thought that being negative in German is complicated grammatically speaking ;). The most general distinction in negations is between negating nouns, using a form of "kein" (plus whatever ending is required by the case and gender of the noun that follows), and using "nicht" negating verbs and adjectives. Let's start with the negation of nouns, which is easier provided you understand the cases in German. If you know the gender and case of the noun you're trying to negate, then assume that we just add a "k" to the indefinite article. e.g. Ich habe ein Buch in the positive form becomes ich habe kein Buch in the negation Negating adjectives is also straightforward because we just p

Brilliant German compound nouns- and what they actually mean

When you hear or read anything about the German language chances are people complain about how awful the language sounds- only voiced by those who don't speak the language- how difficult German grammar is- true, but unlike other European languages, it is quite logical for the most part- or how long some German words are. What people don't often discuss is how brilliant some of those German compound nouns are. Yes, most of them are quite long, yet they usually offer a quite insightful take on a concept. One of my favourite German words is “Fingerspitzengefühl”, literally the feeling you have in your finger tips, which captures quite vividly that kind of sensitivity that is required in certain

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Learn how to conjugate regular and irregular verbs in German

First, most infinitives (basic form of the verb) in German end on “en”. If you remove the — en at the end, you’re left with the stem/root of the verb e.g. spielen (infinitive), spiel (stem) Second, regular verbs have the same stem and the following endings: Ich — e Du — st er/sie/es — t Wir — en Ihr — t sie/Sie — en NB. for “wir and “sie/Sie” the verb goes back to the infinitive form. Applied to the verb “spielen” — to play, the conjugation is as follows: ich spiele du spielst er/sie/es spielt wir spielen ihr spielt sie/Sie spielen Second, irregular verbs have a different stem in the singular form but revert back to the original stem in plural. e.g. in fahren (to drive/go by mode of transpor

How to learn German words effectively

Students often ask me how they should learn new vocabulary. Many simply write down a list of words and their translation or spend hours upon hours on apps like duolingo, memrise, babbel or the like. The problem with both approaches is that, while they might increase their passive vocabulary, often for only limited period of time, the new words don't enter their active vocabulary. In other words, they can't use them when they need them. In my experience, the best way to bridge passive and active vocabulary is the use of flash cards as shown below. Write the word you want to study- here "fahren"- in the middle of the card, and write anything that is interesting about the word grammatically at

How to Master Verbs with Prepositions in German. Here is why we say "Es hängt davon ab"

Verbs with prepositions are a tricky subject for many German students as the combinations are often arbitrary and just need to be memorised, e.g. warten auf (to wait "on" literally, rather than "for" as you would expect in English). Their use, however, makes sense. The two main ways of using these verbs are either with a noun (e.g. "Ich warte auf meinen Bus") or followed by a subordinate clause ("Ich warte darauf, dass mein Bus kommt"). Now, when do we use the second scenario? As the term 'preposition' indicates, prepositions such as "an", "auf", "von" are put before nouns. Yet, when the information we want to communicate is too complex to turn it into a noun, we use "da(r)"+ preposition to

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