To kick off the weekend, I would like to ask you this question: How do we say aufhören in English?
The first thing that came to mind was a scene in the film Stripes, which starred Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Warren Oates. Watch this Scene where the platoon get into a brawl while practicing for graduation (from 2:30 on) and ask yourselves whether what the character Winger says can be translated into the German word or not:
Or in this scene before, when Winger had a bad day (example right at the beginning) which got worse when his girlfriend walked out on him:
In both cases, they can be translated into German for Aufhören.
Aufhören can be categorized into 3-4 categories, of which two of them are most commonly used: one meaning stop it, the other one meaning to quit. Yet interestingly enough, there are several variants in the two categories that can be used, keeping in mind that not everything is 100% one size fits all. Here is a collection of the English equivalents to the German word Aufhören, which you can use in English, keeping the examples in mind as well as a couple other film examples. Feel free to add more if you think they should.
Picked up this rather interesting set of “word-for-word” translations going from Germany into English with both the literal as well as the actual meanings from one of the German facebook sites. Something to ponder, or even laugh about. Whatever type of humor you have. 😉 Enjoy! 😀
Before we get into this topic, I would like to introduce you to this clip of a stunning upset of Georgia Tech against Florida State in American football. Have a look at the clip and come up with some sentences using past tense.
While you are writing some sentences our topic for the use of time markers is solely American football. The sport was introduced in 1869 through a football game between two Ivy League colleges: Rutgers and Princeton. The game consisted of a round ball, two goal posts with an end zone each and lots of tackling. But most importantly, the rules introduced by William Leggett but later modernized by another Ivy League student, Walter Camp, would eventually be integrated into the rules used in today’s sport. The first professional league was created in 1892, yet the National Football League came into being in 1920 and counting the merger with the American Football League in 1969, is one of the oldest leagues in the world, with 32 professional teams and one of the most watched sporting events in the world, the Super Bowl. College football in America is just as popular as the NFL due to its income coming from sponsors, promotions and through college football games, including all the bowl games- most notably: The Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Citrus Bowl, etc. It also features the college marching band, which provides their home team with a round of support.
While we will get to football at a later time, have you had a chance to come up with some sentences to this upset?
Some of you may have taken the easy route and written the following down:
The kicker tried to kick the ball
The defender blocked the ball
Another defender picked up the ball
That defender ran it in for the touchdown
Georgia Tech won the game.
Some may have been more artistic in their sentence construction and wrote something similar to the following:
As the kicker was kicking the ball, it was blocked by the defender.
While the ball was rolling along, another defender picked it up. He was running towards the end zone when the players from Florida State tried to tackle him.
At the end of the game, the crowd was celebrating Georgia Tech’s victory.
This is where the grammar aspect comes in. The more artistic a sentence in English is, the more you can find some spots in grammar that warrant explanation. In this case, we have the words: as, while, when and a certain specified time, plus the verb forms of was + verb with –ing.
Source: SteelCityHobbies, taken in 2006 for flickr and wikiCommons
And this is our topic today: Time Markers involving Past Continuous Form.
Past continuous functions in a similar way as with present continuous, using the “to be” form plus the verb with the –ing ending on it. The continuous functions in a way that it describes what the person is/was doing in a time frame. The difference between present continuous and past continuous is the following:
Is/are + verb-ing => is watching; are doing
Activities that happen now/ at this moment
Future tense in connection with (short-term) planning
Was/were + verb-ing => was driving; were walking
Activities that happened during a certain time frame before or after a an event in the past tense that was finished.
1. I was watching TV when you called.
2. When you called, I was watching TV
3. While I was waiting for the train, my girlfriend called.
4. At this time last night, I was driving home.
5. As I was backing out, the driver hit me from behind.
The third difference between the present and past continuous forms are the time markers. There, when looking at the list below, one can see that there are more time markers in the former than in the latter, whereas the in the latter, the time markers there are used exclusively, while they are rare to use in the former.
(right) now, currently, at the moment, momentarily, these days, nowadays, at present/ at the present time/ presently, today, while, this (week, month, year), in this era/period…
While, when (as a dependent clause), as, during the time…., This time/period, certain specified time: last week, a couple days ago, on 23rd December, at 9:30 last night, etc.
One can also say that some of the elements in past continuous can also be used for past tense, yet one needs to pay attention to the context. That means normally, past tense is the primary verb tense used for sentences, whereas the past continuous is a supplement to the main sentence. Therefore it is normal to see a past continuous being used when the time markers of while, when, as and during are used, as seen in examples in the table above. They normally do not stand out alone unless a certain time period is used and serves as a “substitute” to the past simple verb tense.
I was walking to the grocery store last night. – Past Continuous
I walked to the grocery store last night. – Past Simple
I was walking to the grocery store last night when I heard a strange noise.- Possible
I walked to the grocery store last night when I heard a strange noise.- Not possible
When I saw the person breaking into the store, I called the police.- Possible
While I saw the person breaking into the store, I called the police.- Not possible
Exercise A: The Choice- Look at the sentences below and determine which highlighted part of each sentence is past simple or past continuous. Identify the time markers in each sentence.
Last night, our football team lost in the playoffs finals, and the crowd was heartbroken.
It happened when the quarterback was trying to throw the ball and it was intercepted.
The wide receiver was wide open as the quarterback was throwing the ball to him.
The linebacker, who was being blocked by an offensive lineman, suddenly reached up to tip the ball.
While the ball was bobbling in the air, another linebacker saw it and reached up to grab it.
After he caught the ball, he landed on the ground and started running.
As he was running towards the end zone, several offensive players of the opposing team tried to stop him.
When he saw an opening, he quickly broke free.
While he was running towards the end zone, the noise of the crowd got louder, as the fans were cheering for him.
He suddenly reached the end zone and scored, as the finals seconds ticked to zero.
After he scored, he collapsed and the other players ran towards him.
During that time, he was trying to gasp for air because he ran so hard and so fast despite his weight.
My team started crying because we were leading by one point with four seconds left on the clock.
The fans of the winning team was racing onto the field as time ran out.
I still cannot forget the game today, because we were so close to winning but we were facing frontal winds during the whole game.
Exercise B: Unscramble-Unscramble the following words and form a complete sentence using the correct verb tense (past continuous/present continuous/past simple).HINT: Identify the subject, verb and time marker first before proceeding with the sentence construction!
by 3 points
in the last minute
on the first play
during the game
(!): Two sentence construction: Bold printed words are for the first half of the sentence. Please unscramble those in the top row first before unscrambling the bottom half that is for the second half!
Exercise C: Fill-in
Using the verb in parentheses, complete each sentence using either the past simple or past continuous. !:Please pay attention to the time markers in each sentence.HINT: Identify them first before completing the sentence.
Theo _______________ the chip dip for the party when his best friend called. (prepare)
Clyde’s first day of football practice _____________yesterday at the high school football field. (begin)
While I ____________ busy bringing down the quarterback, a lineman suddenly ________ into me and _________ me down. (to be/run/knock)
After I _________ to the ground, I sprained my ankle. (fall)
Sam ____________the best football game of his career last season, as he ___________ three touchdowns, and his team won the state championship. (play/score)
We _______________ to meet friends at a tailgate party outside the football stadium when we ____________ a flat tire on our pick-up. (go/see)
Because we wanted to watch the Super Bowl, we _____________ a new TV three days ago. (buy)
While you _____________ with that damn chick over there, we _________do all the work to prepare for the party. (flirt/have to)
Jesse ____________ with her marching band at the Rose Bowl parade yesterday. We ___________ it live on TV. (march/watch)
A: What ________you _________ just now? (do- question form)
B: I _____________ a pizza. Glad you __________ because I need your help. (make/come)
A: That _______ a foul call! (to be)
B: Hey! Why are you shouting at the TV?
A: Because that quarterback was hit after he _______ the ball! And the referee ____________ it! (throw/ not see)
A: Hey coach! Why did you cut me?
B: Because you _____________the job I had asked you to do on this football team. (not do)
As the quarterback BJ was ________________the field, quarterback Jimmy ____________ the field to replace him. (walk off/ enter)
As Corey __________ the ball into the end zone to score, the marching band ran onto the field. (run)
The football players _________ the coach off the field while he __________ the trophy in his arms. (carry 2x)
Look at the following football videos. Can you try and construct sentences in past tense, using either past simple, past continuous or both PLUS the correct time marker. As a bonus, can you find which game winner came from a college football game? 🙂
Example 1: The Minneapolis Miracle
Example 2:The Immaculate Reception
Example 3:The Catch of the Year
Example 4: The Clutch and the Clincher
Example 5: The Big Interception
Example 6:The Lateral
Example 7:The Botch
Now that you had a chance to work with the time markers dealing with past continuous and its comparison with past simple and present continuous, the next order of business will be a quiz on American football, its history, culture and all the things many Europeans probably don’t know about. 😉
Our next tongue twister exercise deals with words with –OO in English. We rarely see words in German with –OO in there, but when one comes across them, they are different from the English counterparts. How different?
When we use the words BOOT and ZOO in German, the –OO has a long –O meaning, which is comparable to the likes of the English words: Coke, coal, and with the English equivalent to the word Boot, BOAT.
In English, the use of –OO has two different functions. The first function has to do with the short form. There, using the consonant endings of –D, -K and –T, the short form has the pronunciation of “ugh,” similar to the German words: Schön, Köln, and Kaputt.
Examples of words with the short form of –OO include: BOOK, COOK, FOOT and SHOOK.
The second function of the –OO consists of the long form, where the pronunciation has an “-Ooooh” sound in it. They sound similar to the German words: Universität and Schule but also some of the words in English, like Universal and Unicorn. Apart from some words with the ending –T, long –OO words can be found when the consonants end in: b, f, l, m, n, p, se, plus endings with a consonant plus –e. This is in addition to words ending with just –OO, such as Zoo. Other examples of such words that exist include: Goose, Loon, Bloom, and poof.
Another hint of the different between the long and short forms can be found in the song “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins, which you can see below:
Now that you have seen the examples and understood the functions of the two forms of –OO words, let’s have a look at the Tongue Twister, which was filmed for you to use, watch and practice to your heart’s content. An e-copy of the tongue twister slides is available upon request. Just drop a line and you will receive one with no problems.
Our next false friend looks at the word personaland its meaning in both languages. In terms of spelling is the word the same in both languages. However, the difference in meaning is something to pay attention to.
When we use the word personalin German, it means the same as Mitarbeiter and it describes the people working in a company or institution. When translated into English, we have the word personnel. It’s basically the same when using the root word person– a person who works for the company. Yet, the suffix ending is with –nel. The word staff is the synonym for this word.
The English word personal functions as an adjective, both alone as well as in combination with a noun. When we use the word alone, then it has to do with the private aspect- something that does not need to be made public unless it is deemed necessary. That means if person A has something personal with person B, then they have a problem that they need to first resolve between themselves before having another person intervene. And while private means the same as the German privat, the German equivalent for personalalone in this case is persönlich. And even when we have the word personal problem, when translated into German, it would be the same: persönliches Problem.
The tricky part is when we combine personal with another noun, for some of the word combinations are exactly the same in both languages. The reason: some of the words from English can be used in the German language as well. But the number is fewer than what can be found in German, using either the words persönlich, privat, or something similar. You can find the examples in the first task below:
Activity 1. Determine if this word combination is possible (P) or impossible (I) in German. If I, translate the term into German.
Personal Computer _________________________________
Personal belongings _________________________________
Personal assistant __________________________________
Personal identification number ___________________________
Personal data __________________________________
Personal letter __________________________________
Personal injury ___________________________________
Personal debt ___________________________________
Activity 2. Translate the following German words into English. Hint: Most of these German words do not follow the persönlich or privat rule but when translated into English, they all start with personal.
Activity 3. Do the same thing but from English into German.
Personal growth ___________________________
Personal allowance ___________________________
Personal quality ___________________________
Personal comment ___________________________
Personal appearance __________________________
Activity 4. Determine whether these translations are true friends or false friends. If false, correct them.
Prost! Cheers! Mazeltov! Salut! Zum Wohl! Raise you glasses as you made it through the week. On a Friday night at 9:00pm, you and your friends are celebrating over wine before riding in the night going home.
Wait a minute! In the night? Why not at night?
Very simple: When you ride home in the night, you are riding home in darkness at night, whereas at night itself focuses on the time during the 24-hour day where between 8:00pm and 12:00am, the moon shines its very best. An even better way to describe the difference is a song produced for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, describing the runner at night training in darkness in order to win the gold medal:
It is one of many deep secrets about the prepositions of time, using at, in and on. In each language, there is a different meaning of the three if we focus on the aspects of calendar, clock and the clicks of the timer. The best way to look at this is by looking at the picture below:
Without reading further, where would you place the three prepositions in the wine glass?
The reason for the wine glass concept is very simple. With a few exceptions, wine glasses have an half-oval shape as a way of measuring the amount of wine poured into the glass. That means as the wine glass is filled up, the amount of wine increases as the width of the glass widens. The narrower the glass, the less wine you have.
The wine glass represents the time frame where as the wine glass is filled to the top, the longer the given time period is allotted. That means at the bottom of the wine glass, where next to no drops are poured, that is where the preposition AT belongs to. AT here focuses on the exact time and moment of an event. Examples of how at is used is the following:
The train to Paris leaves at 7:45am from platform 5.
At Easter time, we have the egg hunt.
I’m not here at the moment
The Treaty of Armistice was signed at the 11th hour on November 11th.
It’s 11:00 at night. Do you know where your children are at?
When the wine glass is a third to a half full, then the width of the wine glass plus the amount of the wine is restricted. That is the same for the number of hours in a day, which is 24. Here, ON best fits the wine glass model for it is used to focus on a certain day or date, be it an exact date, holiday or even a day in the week, as seen in the examples below:
On Easter Sunday, we go to church.
I have an appointment on Monday.
She was born on 27 April, 1980.
When the wine glass is completely full, then so is the (sometimes) unlimited amount of wine, and in this case, time a person has. This is the meaning of IN in a sense of time. IN focuses on long periods of time. With the exception of certain periods in the day, like in the morning, afternoon and evening, IN has to do with long periods of time that is allowed to complete something. This can include months, weeks and years, but also seasons and other time periods where time keeps running whereever it wants to. Some examples of how the preposition IN can be used include:
In the spring, we plant our crops.
We have tea time in the afternoon.
Who is making noise in the middle of the night?
Our conference will take place in October.
World War II ended in 1945.
In the end, after reading the explanations, your wine glass in connection with time should look like this:
After looking at the review, do you have any questions? If not, let’s proceed to the exercises, shall we? 🙂
Activity 1. Complete the sentences using the correct preposition of time (at/in/on)
The concert takes place _____ 5:00pm ______ Sunday at the Church
______ May, we will fly to Thailand for three weeks.
It’s 11:30 ______ night. Do you know where your children are?
_______ Tuesday we have our important town hall meeting. It starts ______ 10:00am and will last two hours.
Sherry was born _______ 23rd of May, 1977 ______ 3:00am at the hospital in Dublin.
World War I ended ________ 11th of November ________ the year 1918________ 11:11 am.
The building will be finished ________ the spring.
_______ Easter, we have a family gathering at my grandmother’s place.
_______ New Year’s Day we will be at some friends‘ to celebrate.
The Christmas market starts _______ 5:00pm _______ the evening, and ends _______10:00 ______ night.
Activity 2. Why do we say these things? Explain.
Why do we say 9:00 at night instead of in the night?
Why do we say in the morning instead of at the morning?
Why do we say in March instead of on March?
Why do we say on Monday instead of at Monday?
Why do we say both on the weekend and at the weekend?
Activity 3. The following sentences are incorrect. Change them to make sure they are right.
The Open Night of Science will start at 8:00pm in the night.
Stacy was born in January 23rd, 1967.
The TV-series made its debut on 1988 and was cancelled at 1991.
The bus comes every morning at 7:30 to pick up the children.
In the weekend, there is a choir concert at the city convention center.
In the moment, I’m preparing the exams.
The meeting will take place on 6:45am at Thursday the 14th of September.
At the winter time, we go skiing in the Alps.
In Christmas, we sing carols.
In my birthday, we will celebrate it at my place.
Activity 4. Complete each phrase with at, in, or on.
Glauchau (Saxony), Germany– Police in Saxony are getting a great laugh over a traffic incident on the Motorway A4 in the direction of Frankfurt (Main). Shortly before pulling off the route at Glauchau-Ost, police pulled over an Austrian couple, whose wife was in the process of giving birth. The officer, originating from Russia but having lived in the state of Saxony for 13 years, cracked up when she saw that the woman in the car on the passenger side was in the process of giving birth, but her husband responded to her claim of him speeding:
“HELP! My woman is becoming a baby!”
Before going further, look at the sentence and ask yourself why this is wrong. Did you find the difference?
If not then here’s a hint: The officer can speak Russian and English both like a native speaker. Now can you make the difference?
If still not, then let’s have a look at the word become. Become has a similarity to the German bekommen just because of the spelling with a couple minor exceptions: in German, it’s replacing the C with K and adding another M. Sadly though, the meaning of the two are clearly NOT different. Here’s the simplest explanation to clear this up:
BEKOMMEN means a person is receiving something, whether it is a gift, message, etc. The English equivalents to the German word include: get, have, receive, secure, earn (money), gain, collect, take (from someone), introduce and welcome (someone new to the group or team), as well as accept (something from someone).
BECOME on the other hand means in German SEIN WERDEN, or something similar, as can be seen in the link. In other words, it has something to do with the person being something in terms of appearance, action and behavior. It can also have something to do with an object being something or forming something to make it different. In short, BECOME has to do with the LOOK.
Keeping this in mind, let’s go back to the story: It did have a happy ending for the officer gave the driver a warning for going 25 kilometers per hour too fast and gave him a free ride to the hospital, which was on the opposite end of the city and required going through the city center. A happy ending for everyone and the family. However, the Russian officer, who has two children of her own, gave him a lecture on English. You can imagine how it went:
Next time, it’s not woman but your wife. And it’s scientifically impossible for a grown adult to become a baby, let alone a woman. She’s getting a baby, or you can say She’s giving birth, She’s in labor or she’s having a baby. Got it?
He understood although from my own personal experiences, a person could technically become a baby if he/she throws a temper tantrum, especially over a bad grade on a test. But that’s a different story for a different time.
A. Determine whether these sentences are true or false. If false, please correct them.
André will get a police officer after he’s done with the training next year.
Jason will become his teeth pulled out next week.
The basketball team got the win over Munich last night.
I’ve become irritated over his constant absence from class.
Jackie became an engagement ring from her long-time boyfriend Kalvin last week.
They became married at a small church ceremony last Saturday.
They’ve become a newlywed couple.
Lindsay will become an award for her years’ experience at a ceremony next week.
We’ve gotten more experienced in this game.
How often per month do you get your weekly newspaper?
B. Complete each sentence using get or become. Please pay attention to the verb tenses
Chris _______ in late to class today.
The teacher __________ annoyed of his tardiness.
Romy _________ 23 out of 45 on her test in math.
Her parents __________ a notice of her failing grade from the school this morning.
Ingo and Timmy ___________ detention (Nachsitzung in German) this afternoon because they were fighting.
Principal Ingrid Younker____________ a superintendent of the school last week. She ___________ the post when Mike Kuntz retires at the end of the school year.
The school _________ no coverage by the media. Nevertheless, it ____________ popular place for students to go to.
The teacher ____________ tired and decided to go home.
C. Now translate the sentences in B. into German. Notice the difference between English and German in terms of the use of become and bekommen?
D. Translate the following sentences from German into English. Please note that there are some variants possible. Pay attention to the verb tenses as well.
Der Angeklagte bekommt eine Freiheitsstrafe von drei Jahren und eine Bußgeld von 20,000 für seinen Tat.
Patrick wurde als Chefkoch im Restaurant vor einem Jahr ernannt .
Die Eltern haben die gute Nachricht von ihrer Tochter über ihre Geburt gestern.
Mein Computer wird langsamer. Ich weiß nicht was mit ihm los ist!
Hilfe! Meine Frau bekommt ein Kind und wir sind verfahren! Kann jemand uns helfen?
Author’s disclaimer:The story of the Russian police officer in Saxony is entirely fictitious; however the phrase “My woman is becoming a baby!” was actually said during an English oral test at a school in Germany. The names of the students, the teachers involved, as well as the place and name of the school were omitted to protect their identities. Inquiries on these are not desired.
This blog is the result of an idea that's in my head for already quite a time. I love languages, cultures, travel and lifestyle topics and would like to write articles about interesting topics related to these topics. This blog is more a project that I start for myself. Of course, I will be happy if my content is also a valuable source for others, so that we can share our ideas and experiences.