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The German Language Loves Compound Nouns. Interesting Facts About The German Language

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

to Christmas, I post fun facts Every day leading upabout the German language. The first post explained why the German language is important, the second discussed why English and German are estranged sister languages. Today, I will discuss why the German language loves compound nouns.

The German language has the habit of creating new words out of existing words by putting them together. This has two advantages and one disadvantage. The first advantage is that the meaning of the new word can often be deduced if you know the meaning of at least one of its compounds. The second is that their pronunciation is not as scary as it might appear at first glance because you only need to break down the new noun into its original smaller components and then pronounce each syllable separately. The obvious disadvantage is that the German language can get carried away quite easily and creates long monster words (SPOILER ALERT 😉- I’ll come back to the disadvantage in tomorrow’s post). So let’s look at some examples of compound nouns in German, beginning with relatively straight forward ones.

braten (to roast) + die Wurst (the sausage) = die Bratwurst

schreiben (to write) + der Tisch (table) = der Schreibtisch (desk)

das Telefon (telephone) + die Nummer (number) = die Telefonnummer (telephone number)

das Zimmer (the room) + der Schlüssel (the key) = der Zimmerschlüssel (room key)

More amusing for foreigners, are the following word creations.

die Hand (hand) + der Schuh (shoe) = der Handschuh (glove)

das Ohr (ear) + der Wurm (worm) = der Ohrwurm (ear worm), which is used for a catchy tune that doesn't go out of your ears.

Other examples can be found on our German language blog "Auf Deutsch, bitte!". We have posts on long German nouns, brilliant German compound nouns, and the most beautiful German words.

Interested to learn German or improve your existing skills in the language? Then check out our small-group German courses, many of which start in the New Year. We also offer private German tuition, corporate German courses, and German exam tutorials taught by experienced native tutors.



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