Genre Profile: Rolltreppenmax by Bummelkasten

One of the most popular songs for children and for those learning German as a foreign language is this comedy hit. Rolltreppenmax looks at a typical day of the main character, what he does and why a roll of toilet paper has to be involved at the end of the day. The song starts with Monday and looks at what the character does on that day. It’s followed by Tuesday, Wednesday and goes all the way to the day of rest, known as Sunday.

Have a look at the video and there are some tips for teachers to use for the German classroom.


For some educational tips, one can do the following:

  1. Make a list of all the things the main character in the song does on each day in German, then translate it into English to understand what the activities mean.
  2. Answer the question of why a roll of toilet paper (D: Klopapier) is presented at each day, and especially on Sunday where piles of that stuff ends up in the office of his “best friend.”
  3. Try to create a song like this using different activities, keeping in mind that they must rhyme and fit the rhythm if possible. This one is the toughest and therefore, it should be group exercise, consisting of 3-4 students per group. More minds think alike. 😉 When you are done presenting this, then it’s your turn to present in class. 😀

Viel Spaß/ Have fun! 🙂


Bummelkasten is a one-man acapella comedy music group based in Berlin. Its main singer, Bernhard Lütke, created the group in 2012 and this song, Rolltreppenmax, became a hit among people of all ages. The song helped launched Lütke to fame as a singer and comedian. Three albums were released between 2014 and 2017 and have received rave reviews. One of the songs, “Weil ick mick so freue!” (EN: While I am so happy) received the Goldene Spatz Award for best song/ music video in 2015.

Website to the group’s homepage you can find here:


Verbs that Function Both as Regular and Irregular

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One of the least talked about subjects in the English Language are verbs, whose conjugations are both regular and irregular. Some are probably thinking why that is the case. There are two arguments for why they are not even mentioned in the classroom:

1. The endings are different but the meanings are the same. This argument applies for the different endings between British and American, where the past and perfect endings have either a -t or an -ed at the end. In many cases they can be used interchangeably. Example of such include

Dream (present) Dreamed/ Dreamt (past simple) Dreamed/ Dreamt (perfect)

Smell (present) Smelled/Smellt (past simple) Smelled/Smellt (perfect)

The same applies for irregular tenses, where a verb both have a regular and irregular form but the meanings are the same and are sometimes used in both types of English. This includes:

Wet (present) Wet/Wetted (past simple) Wet/Wetted (perfect)

Dive (present) Dove/Dived (past simple) Dived (perfect)


2. People would understand the meaning of the words without having to make the difference in conjugation. Two examples come to mind that would counter this argument:

Lie: Lie has two different conjugations but also two different meanings. You can lie to the person to save yourself from trouble, but you cannot lay unless you’re speaking a “red neck” version of English. 😉 By the same token, one can lie down or lay down for taking a nap.

Find: Find has a past tense that has a conjugation of its own. You can found a company and establish it from the ground up, but when you say I find a company (or even finded), then you discovered the company either by research on the internet or by chance while playing hide and seek. 😉


Then there is the third argument which states that the numbers are so few that it would make no sense to learn them. English, like any other foreign language features vocabulary whose difference in pronunciation (including homophones) and lettering (including the affixes) produce different meanings. Therefore it is important to cover all the aspects of each word, including the meanings and the context. This is important especially when translating the words into your own language because each word has a different equivalent, regardless of how the English word is conjugated.

I did some research and asked some of the native speakers and experts who taught English and found that verbs with both types of conjugation can be divided up into different categories. The German translations for each word is marked in orange. They include the following:


American <=> British Type 1:  Word pairs that have the same meaning but the endings in past/perfect tenses are both –ed and –t. As a rule, the irregular forms are typically British English; the regular forms are typically American

VerbPresent + V-ingPast SimplePerfect FormMeaning/ Translation
dreamdreamingdreameddreamedTo think of something while sleeping
dreamdreamingdreamtdreamtGerman: schlafen
learnlearninglearnedlearnedTo collect knowledge for future use
learnlearninglearntlearntGerman: lernen
spoilspoilingspoiledspoiledTo ruin a food product or event
spoilspoilingspoiltspoiltGerman: verderben
burnburningburnedburnedTo apply heat to a surface sometimes causing a fire
burnburningburntburntGerman: brennen
leanleaningleanedleanedTo tilt against someone or something
leanleaningleantleantGerman: neigen
smellsmellingsmelledsmelledTo have a scent of an object or area
smellsmellingsmeltsmeltGerman: riechen
spillspillingspilledspilledTo empty the contents onto a surface
spillspillingspiltspiltGerman: verschütten oder verstreuen


American <=> British Type 2 Word pairings where even though the meaning is the same, the verb endings with –ed are used in British English; in American English they stay the same and are considered irregular verbs.

VerbPresent + V-ingPast SimplePerfect FormMeaning/ Translation
quitquittingquittedquittedTo discontinue doing
quitquittingquitquitGerman: aufhören
wetwettingwettedwettedTo add fluid to a surface to make it softer
wetwettingwetwetGerman: nass machen


Regular British and Irregular American Forms:  Word pairings that function both as a regular as well as an irregular verb form but have the same meaning; can be used in both British and American English.

VerbPresent + V-ingPast SimplePerfect FormMeaning/ Translation
lightlightinglightedlightedTo make glow
lightlightinglitlitGerman: beleuchten, anzünden, Feuer machen, u.A.
divedivingdiveddivedTo jump head first into the water; to drop rapidly
divedivingdovedivedGerman: Kopfsprung machen; fallen/ sinken


Present Pairs with Different Meanings: Word pairs where each verb in present simple tense has a different meaning per conjugated regular and irregular form

Verb Present + V- ing Past Simple Perfect Form Meaning/ Translation
ringringingringedringedForming a circle around something/ German: kreiseln
ringringingrangrungMaking a sound like a bell on a telephone/ German: ringen
shineshiningshinedshinedTo polish/ German: polieren
shineshiningshoneshoneTo glow or cast with light/ German: scheinen
slayslayingslayedslayedTo strongly impress someone/ German: beeindrücken
slayslayingslewslainTo kill or destroy/ German:  töten od. zerschlagen
hanghanginghunghungTo attach something high off the ground and allow to sway/ German: hängen
hanghanginghangedhangedTo be suspended by neck in mid-air, causing death/ German:  erhängen
abide abidingabidedabidedTo continue to live and act in a similar fashion/  German fortbestehen; ertragen
abideabidingabodeabodeTo live in a home/dwelling/residence   German: leben/wohnen


Past Pairs with Different Meanings: Word pairs whose past simple tense form has its own set of conjugations and meaning. The past tense version functions as a regular verb form.

VerbPresent + V-ing Past Simple Perfect Form Meaning/ Translation
findfindingfoundfoundLook for something/ finden
foundfoundingfoundedfoundedEstablishing a business or organization/   German: (be)gründen
windwindingwoundwoundWrap around something/   German: (auf)wickeln
woundwoundingwoundedwoundedTo injure someone’s feelings or through a knife-stab or gunshot/   German: verletzen
fallfallingfellfallenTo drop down to the ground from above/ German: fallen
fellfellingfelledfelledTo cut down a tree or tall object / German: fällen
feelfeelingfeltfeltTo sense something/ German: (sich) fühlen
feltfeltingfeltedfeltedTo try and perceive or twist/ German: wahrnehmen/ empfinden
seeseeingsawSeenTo look at something with the eyes/  German:  sehen
sawsawingsawedsawnTo cut apart a tree or object with a saw/ German:  segen
bearbearingborebornTo make into life; tolerate/    German: gebären; tolerieren
boreboringboredboredTo make uninteresting or tiring/   German: langweilen; langweilig machen


Despite having a list for each of the categories, I also concluded that there are more examples of such verbs in English that exist, yet they are at best seldomly mentioned. Furthermore there may be a little bit of leeway in terms of the word pairs and the meanings. Therefore I would like to ask you to mention any further examples that you know in the language that fit into one of the five abovementioned categories. Any missing verbs will be added including the conjugations and the German translations. You will do yourself, yours truly as well as teachers of English as a Foreign Language and the students (regardless of age and school) a big favor. 🙂

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Useful Sources:



“No means NO!” A look at the many ways to reject an offer in English

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Imagine this scenario: a stranger offers a child a ride to school, or offers a woman to a cup of tea, or offers a group of people to go to a free show in a theater, etc. You want to say no, but you want to find a creative alternative to the words “No thank you.” Furthermore, you would like to know which of the expressions are more forceful than the polite versions. It’s like in the commercial produced in 2015 on the issue of consent and, like in the picture above, the offer for a cup of tea:

Of course, we could accept the offer and say sure, we can do that. Germans would use the word annehmen and the English equivalents are below:


For the enquivalent to the German word, ablehnen, the expressions are on the same level as this traffic light:

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The green light represents the polite way of saying no, the yellow light is the more stern way, and the red light is the most forceful way. The most commonly used words to describe “No!” are decline, reject and refuse. Like the traffic light, the difference among the three verbs is as follows:

As a hint, each of the words also have an equivalent, whose meanings are different, but they are in reference to the actual meaning of the word.

Decline: Two meanings come to mind when it comes to this word. The first has to do with deteriorate, the other to go down. While it is OK to politely decline to the offer a friend gives you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the friend doesn’t like you. Yet if you reject your friend’s offer multiple times, then you might want to ask why, for it could be a sign that a friendship is deteriorating.

Reject: There are several words that come to mind when it comes to rejecting something sternly. One can repeal, annul or back out of an offer. Yet you can reject an offer and at the same time end a relationship and leave someone behind. As a hint, when you reject something plainly and to the point, it is a sign that you want to end something and move on. Reject is a tool used to end a partnership but on a professional basis.

Refuse: Two words are used to describe the harshest form of a “No” word: refuse and waste. Refuse is British and means garbage in American English as well as Abfall in German. The stress is on the first syllable. Waste is the same as garbage as a noun, but as a verb it means using time in a worthless manner. If you use the word refuse, your implying that the other person is wasting your time and you want nothing to do with him/her. If you use refuse, then the person is being tossed into the pile of garbage, full of disappointments, but in the clearest (and hopefully) verbal manner.


Decline <=> deteriorate, go down

Reject <=> repeal, annul, back out, end, leave behind

Refuse <=> refuse (noun), garbage, waste (noun/verb)

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A. Look at the expressions below. Determine whether they represent a red light (severe), yellow light (stern but moderate) or green light (polite). Please keep in mind that both the three words plus their synonyms are featured in the examples.

  1. I refuse to talk to my dad. He’s such a racist!
  2. Patricia declined to comment on the incident.
  3. Sam rejected Torsten’s request for a paid leave of absence
  4. The police officer apprehended the driver after he refused to show him his driver’s license.
  5. The teenager refused to show his tatoo to the leader of the gang and was subsequentially beaten.
  6. Anna declined Ted’s offer for a beer after work.
  7. I refuse to be a victim to this abuse!
  8. The President rejected the proposal to sign the treaty, citing high costs to carry it through.
  9. The clerk rejected the form because there was missing information.
  10. The opposite team declined the offer to penalize the home team for the foul.
  11. The marriage was annulled due to irreconcilable differences. Annul is the same as which of the three words: ______________________
  12. I’ve decided to leave the group because of the contract and I wanted to go solo. Leave is the same as which of the three words: ___________________.
  13. The relationship has deteriorated recently because of cultural differences between the couple. Deteriorate is the same as which of the three words:_______________________
  14. I will not speak with that piece of garbage. Not after what he did. He’s a waste of time. Waste and garbage are in reference to which of the three words: _____________________
  15. I passed up on the offer to work in Auckland for family reasons. Pass up is the same as which of the three words: __________________________.
  16. The bishop shunned the couple for same-sex marriage. Shun is the same as which of the three words: ______________________.
  17. We renounced our citizenship because we didn’t want to pay double taxes. Renounce is the same as which of the three words: ____________________.
  18. Scott sat out during the game because of a nose bleed. Sit out is the same as which of the three words:_____________________.
  19. The plaintiff’s lawyer objected to the defendant’s claims in court. Object is the same as which of the three words: ____________________.
  20. People in the hall protested at the proposal to tear the historic building down. Protest is the same as which of the three words: ________________________.



B. Complete the following sentences, using either decline, reject or refuse. Pay attention to the details!

  1. Charles _______________ to apologize to his brother for the fight because he had started it.
  2. The cat ________________ to come down from the cupboard. So Sam took a broom and chased him down.
  3. Georgia _________________ Harlow’s offer to dinner at the diner in town. She was not interested in him and he understood.
  4. I _________________ to comment on the story because I’ve only heard it for the first time. Please give me time to digest the news.
  5. The Senate ________________ the proposal calling for the increase in taxes among the wealthy.
  6. The wedding proposal was __________________ because she didn’t love him. She loved someone else.
  7. The protesters _________________ to leave the town square, so the police sprayed water on them.
  8. I _________________ to back down to Mr. Henning because his argument for me clearing my classroom was not justified.
  9. My boss _________________ the offer for a higher position because he loves his job.
  10. She __________________ the draft because it was irrelevant.




C. Look at the following sentences and convert them using the antonyms.

Example: I refuse your apology! <=> I accept your apology!

  1. I decline the offer to marry you. <=>
  2. I refuse to talk to him. <=>
  3. The proposal was rejected by a unanimous vote. <=>
  4. The fine for speeding was rejected. <=>
  5. The peace treaty has been refused by both parties. <=>
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After watching the video and reading (as well as doing) the examples, you should have an idea on the ways to express yourself if someone offers you something in English and you want to accept or deny the offer. Regardless of severity vs politeness, the main factor is: “No means no!” If a person declines, rejects or refuses something, then there is a reason for that. It is only OK with the consent of the other and NOT based on your assumptions. What was learned in your childhood that “No means yes.” is no longer the norm in this day and age.

When it’s no, it means no. Regardless of how no is interpreted.


LOOK AT THAT! DID YOU SEE IT?!!- Verbs of Perception in English


Imagine you are sitting down with some friends, watching a good basketball game on TV. You see that there is popcorn, beer and cola, Chex snack mix and bars on the coffee table. You notice the excitement in the atmosphere among your friends, especially as you had a bet with one of them, who is staring at you in hopes he would win the bet.

All of a sudden, you see this happen:



Everyone is jumping up in the air, with food and drink flying all over the floor. One of your friends is hosting the party and comes to the living room to see a mess and all of you covered in food and drink. His lone reaction:



The redness on his face was not only the expression of anger (which is understandable) but also fear because his parents would be coming home soon.


And he was not supposed to have a basketball party, unless he risked getting grounded. 😉


But looking at the situation, we have many words in there that have to do with perception: LOOK (AT), SEE, WATCH, STARE, OBSERVE & NOTICE. All but TWO of them mean the same as the German SEHEN, whereas NOTICE means BEMERKEN and OBSERVE is BEOBACHTEN.

The underlying meaning behind them has to do with the context and for people learning English, this is difficult to do unless you understand the meaning, have an example and even include an mnemonic (Eselsbrücke) to help you.

Here are the differences you need to pay attention to:


SEE SEE has to do with the passive function of the eyes. We use SEE when something sudden appears and you have to shift your eyes onto that object.


SEE is an irregular verb with the past tense SAW and perfect form, SEEN



1.      When I look out of the window, I see my neighbor’s garden with lots of flowers

2.      Did you see what I saw?  Yeah, I saw a huge dolphin swimming in the harbor.


As an mnemonic, think of this tongue twister: Mr. See owns a saw. Mr. Saw owns a seesaw. Now see saw soar saw seesaw (….) Link here.

NOTICE When you NOTICE something, you suddenly realize that something is there. Most of the time you comment on something you NOTICE.


NOTICE is a regular verb where only -D is added for both past and perfect forms.



1.      I noticed you have a new pair of glasses! How long have you had them?

2.      Ben got the notice from his boss yesterday that he was being laid off.


As an mnemonic, think of a situation where one person gives his boss his NOTICE because he’s unhappy with his job. In this case, the boss NOTICES this NOTICE suddenly and must react by finding a new employee to replace him.

STARE The opposite of notice is STARE. To STARE at someone is when a person looks at the person or an object for a long period of time for a specific reason.


If it’s a person, unless you are playing the stare game, STARING at a person may present some discomfort  because he/she is being perceived as an object of interest.


STARE shares the same function as NOTICE and is a regular verb, whose past and perfect form ends with -D



1.      Grady stared at Nicole for a long time because of her long brown hair.

2.      The police officers were staring at a house because one was trying to break in.

3.      Jack and Clara played stare game and stared at each other for a long time.


STARE game is when two people stare at each other for as long as possible  until one flinches. The one who stares the longest wins.



LOOK (AT) To LOOK at someone means you are directed by a person to see something that the other person saw but only for a short time.


LOOK (AT) in this case should not be mixed up with SEARCH, for one can use LOOK (FOR) in the case of finding something.


LOOK is a regular verb tense whose past ending is -ED



1.      Look at that girl there! She’s a real beauty.

2.      Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror, lately?


Mnemonic: Who was your first lover? Think about the story about that first person you were in love with. Did someone tell you to LOOK AT the person when she was garnering your attention?

WATCH WATCH can be used when you are looking at something for a long period of time, like a game, an event, a show on TV or sometimes babysitting smaller kids.


WATCH has -ED as an ending for past and perfect and is a regular verb


WATCH OUT and LOOK OUT are the same but have a different meaning. They imply that danger is ahead and you must avoid or steer clear of it.



1.      My friends and I watched a great football game on TV last night.

2.      She really enjoyed watching the orchestra concert at the high school.

3.      Watch out! Deer!


There are two Mnemonics. The first is asking what your favorite TV shows were (or still are). For WATCH OUT, use the deer crossing as a sign. When you see one, you know you need to slow down and watch for wildlife.

OBSERV-E OBSERVE has the same function as WATCH, which means looking at something for a long time. However, OBSERVE is when a person looks at the developments of a project, behavioral pattern or changes in the environment and analyses it, providing some conclusions in oral or written form.


OBSERVE is a regular verb and has a -D ending for past and perfect form



1.      I’ve observed your behavior lately and you seem irritated. What’s wrong?

2.      The teacher observed the science experiment closely.

3.      The students observed the demonstration with interest.


OBSERVE has more to do with seeing things live and not from a distance. Therefore, ask yourself what your favorite science experiment was in school.

After learning the rules regarding the difference among the perceptive verbs, here are some activities for you to do so that you have a chance to use them correctly. An answer sheet can be found by clicking here.



Multiple Choice:  For each sentence, choose the correct word and write it in the blank. Pay attention to the verb tenses.  One answer possible!


1.      When I opened the window, I _____________ Mr. Markman mowing the lawn.

a.      Watch          b. See                  c. Observe          d. Look at


2.      I __________ that you have a cool haircut, Mia. Which hair dresser did you visit?

a.      Notice          b. Observe          c. Look                d. Watch


3.      Ken, Don and I ____________ three hours of professional wrestling on TV last night.

a.      Look             b. Notice             c. Watch             d. See


4.      Quit ____________ at me, Jake! I don’t like that.

a.      Watch          b. See                  c. Stare                d. Look at


5.      Karen and Mattie ____________ exhibits at the museum while I’m meeting friends at a pub.

a.      Stare                    b. Notice             c. Look at            d. Observe


6.      Fans and the prep band ____________ the football game at the stadium in Hanover on Friday.

a.      Watch                 b. Look at           c. Observe          d. Stare


7.      Wow! __________ that beauty walking down the stage!

a.      Stare                    b. See                  c. Look at            d. Observe


8.      Did you __________ that asteroid that landed in the field, last night?!!

a.      See                       b. Look                c. Stare                d. Observe


9.      Many kids in the class ____________ Ms. Mulder’s amazing chemistry project in the science lab.

a.      Notice                 b. Observe          c. Stare                d. Look


10.   Wow, Dean! You __________ pale. Are you OK, Bud?

a.      Watch                 b. Stare               c. Notice             d. Look


11.   We ____________ the snow falling onto the ground for a few minutes yesterday.

a.      Look                    b. Watch             c. Notice             d. See


12.   Millie, you ____________ the kids this evening as we will go out for dinner, understand?

a.      See                       b. Observe          c. Watch             d. Notice


13.   ____________ what you did! Who’s going to pay for the new window?

a.      Watch                 b. See                  c. Look                d. Notice


14.   Mr Hildebrandt _____________ Heidi’s change in behavior in class and went to talk with her about it.

a.      Look at               b. Observe          c. Watch             d. See


15.   Leia ___________ the ducks closely on the lake and wrote down her results.

a.      Observe              b. See                  c. Notice             d. Look



Word Group:   Look at the following group of words and determine which of the perceptive verbs you would use. One answer possible!


1.      Student               Test                      Classroom          Write  

ANS: ____________________

2.      Stadium              Baseball              Umpire                Pitcher   

ANS: ____________________

3.      Car                       Deer                     Road                    Darkness     

ANS: ____________________

4.      Wildlife               Forest                  Bear                     Mating    

ANS: ____________________

5.      Highway              Car                       Flat tire               Police Officer  

ANS: ____________________

6.      Games                 Kids                       TV                         Trouble

ANS: ____________________

7.      Old dress            New outfit          New hair style   New attitude 

ANS: ____________________

8.      UFO                     Farm field           Alien (E.T.)          Rotating Lights

ANS: ____________________

9.      Boss      Anger Management        Crying Worker      Fired    

ANS: ____________________

10.   Parking lot         Parking Meter   Parking Ticket    Car 

ANS: ____________________



Dia-Slide Show: Now you have an opportunity to construct sentences using the perceptive verbs.  Use the following 15 pics and construct a sentence using the correct Verbs. Please note that there are many answers possible.  Good luck! 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Note: All the photos were taken by the author and the motif is in the far North.


Activity 4:

A Couple or Not? Sometimes it is possible to use more than one perceptive word in a sentence. Look at each pair and determine if they are a match or not. Answer with either Yes or No.

  • Trevon stared at Pauline for a long time because of her beauty.
  • Trevon looked at Pauline for a long time because of her beauty.




  • We saw that you bought a new car. How much was it?
  • We watch that you bought a new car. How much was it?


  • Did you see Fall Guy on TV last night?
  • Did you watch Fall Guy on TV last night?


  • I was watching your interaction with Anja with concern. Do you want to talk about it?
  • I was observing your interaction with Anja with concern. Do you want to talk about it?


  • Sean got a notice from his boss today.
  • Sean got a watch from his boss today.


  • Jana was watching Dr. Quincy when the phone rang.
  • Jana was seeing Dr. Quincy when the phone rang.


  • Hundreds of fans watched the soccer team score the winning goal the last second.
  • Hundreds of fans observed the soccer team score the winning goal the last second.


  • Did you see the UFO fly over the city hall?
  • Did you watch the UFO fly over the city hall?


  • I see that you are packing your stuff and leaving. Where are you going?
  • I notice that you are packing your stuff and leaving. Where are you going?


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Beware of the German Umlaut! A look at some confusing words in German and their English translations


When learning a foreign language, one has to be aware of different symbols in the alphabet and how you should pronounce words where the symbols exist. You can find words with accent-symbols in many romantic languages as well as Hungarian. You can find Os with a line cutting through in Norwegian. You can find small ‘V’s on consonants in the Czech Language. You can find the “laying” S symbols on words with N in them in Spanish (think of El Nino)

In German, we have the Umlaut. Consisting of the two small dots on the vowels, the umlauts are designed to stretch out the mouth a bit horizontally, but without having to lose the quality of the original vowels. The umlauts can be found in vowels A, O and U, hence: Ä, Ö, and Ü. This means with A (Ah), we have Ä (aaah), O (oh) with Ö (orh) and U (you) with Ü (yee).

The trick behind the umlauts is trying to widen the mouth that is otherwise too tall and too stubborn to move. And this is where we have some problems with pronouncing the words in German. In German we have many words whose vowels function with AND without umlauts, BUT the meanings are totally different. Have a look at some examples:




What other words could you add to this list? Add them and comment on the meanings in the comment section below or on the Files’ facebook pages.


In case you have some problems with the umlauts, try some mnemonics at home, first with words with the same vowel with umlaut, like this example:

Die grüne Hühn steht vor der Tür (The green hen is standing in front of the door- all words with Ü)

Then try and build a sentence with the same vowel- but with AND without the Umlaut

Die unglaubliche grüne Hühn ist klug (The unbelieveably green hen is smart)


There are also some videos that look at the umlauts further. Here are a couple examples that are worth watching.

And last, but not least, practice! Practice!! Practice!!!. Make the distinction with the words, use some examples to help. And if you still have some problems, consult a native German who can help you further. He/she will get you in shape with the Umlauts. They are indeed a workout for learning the foreign language. 😉

Viel Glück!

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“Verstehen Sie Savvy?” The many meanings of “Do you Understand” in English


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A couple months ago, I did a survey to find out how many meanings and translations we can find for the question: Do you understand?  The German equivalent is Verstehen Sie? (or when using the informal: Verstehst du?)  

After compiling the different ways of expressing this phrase, this what I got in the end:

Savy with a twist

At least 40 different expressions of Do you understand– in English!  🙂 There are some formal ones we use, but we also have three times as many informal expressions of this phrase that have been used. They depend on not only the country but also the region in the Anglo-Saxon speaking countries where you will find them in use.  For example, the Scots use the expression “Do you, ken,” whereas “You know?” is found mostly in the rural Midwestern region of the US. But those are small examples.  Ironically, some of the romantic expressions, like Comprende, Capito, etc. have been adopted into the English language and they can be found in areas where Italian and Spanish are used.  Sometimes a little bit of “Savvy,” is used if one wants to impress his French. 😉

This artwork best describes the many forms of “Do you understand” for wine and dinner are the best combinations to having a great conversation, persuading each other to agree to disagree with the point of view of the other.  In simpler languages, great conversations require wine and the many forms of the expression needed in order for the discussion to be lively and “sophisticated.”

There’s no doubt that there are more in addition to what is presented in close-up, but for those wishing to learn the language, this expression is one of the main questions you will need to know so that you can use it to better communicate with others.  It will make for avoiding misunderstandings, together with another Expression used to help the other help you to understand, which is:

I don’t understand. 😉

Savy Red Wine


You see what I’m sayin’ ? 🙂


Author’s Note: Some recipients sent me the expression Savy? without having to look up the word and realize the word is with two V’s. A bit too late for the wine bottle (even though the word looks cool on the label), however, to ensure the correctness of the word, the title is with two V’s. 


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The Creative Creator Creatively Creates a Creation- A Look at Derivations in English


Derivations is the process of converting one grammatical aspect into another, by changing the suffix of the word given. As a general rule, we start with the root word, mainly a verb or a noun. By adding an ending, you change the grammatical function of the word. To a certain extent, the meaning of the word is altered as well.

Looking at the title of this article, we see that the root word create can be altered at least five times. The root word is the verb. Creator is the personal noun. Creation is the processional noun. Creative is the adjective and by adding an –ly at the end of that word, it’s an adverb.

Derivation 1


Our focus is on three of the most important aspects of derivation: verb, noun and adjective form for each conversion has its own set of rules. Have a look at the tables below:

Derivation 3

Derivation 2

Derivation 4

The nouns vary for there are four different forms, including one between personal and processional nouns, as seen in the acitivites per link here.


Activity 1: Conversion  There are three different tables. Look at each word in the table and find its grammatical equivalent. An example in each table is given.


Adjective Verb








































Verb Noun











































Noun Adjective











































Activity 2: Fill-in/ Multiple Choice  Choose the right word to complete each sentence

  1. I cannot trust my colleague. He is (unreliable/ unrely).
  2. Her behavior is too (destruction/ destructive).
  3. The students had a chance to (criticize/ critical) the examiners over their score.
  4. The presenter was very (communicative/communication) to his audience.
  5. The (elimination/ eliminative) of the department will cost the company 30 jobs.
  6. The railroad (state/ station) is on the left side of the street.
  7. An (analysis/ analyse) from the doctor revealed that you have a tumor.
  8. Using hate speech in school is grounds for (dismiss/ dismissal). Note: Grounds for dismissal is the same is being fired/canned/terminated from your job)
  9. The person, who rolled the truck into the garage, said it was (accident/ accidental).
  10. The car is a (valued/valuable) asset to this family.


Activity 3: Now for an even bigger challenge- Using the root word in parenthesis, complete the sentence using either the verb, adjective or noun form.  The topic is how to prepare for a test in class.

  1. _______________ is the key when you have a big test coming up. (prepare)
  2. It is important to __________ notes and pay _____________ to the teacher in class. (take/ attend).
  3. Sometimes it helps to have a _______________ outline so that better understand the _____________ of the topic. (structure/ complex)
  4. Sometimes, attending a ______________ will help you with questions that are hard but _________________ to answer (tutor/do)
  5. But you must be _________________ and clear in addressing these ____________ questions. (communicate/complicate)
  6. It is sometimes ____________________and _________________ to start studying two months before the test. (use/ help).
  7. Having ____________ partners in a study group will make studying for a test even more fun. (rely)
  8. Having good study habits, such as good ______________ skills, thorough notes and some nmemonics will help in your _______________ as a person later on. (organize/develop).
  9. The night before the test, it is ______________ not to drink caffeine nor alcohol and to get a ___________ amount of sleep. (advise/ manage).
  10. On the day of the test, be _____________ and think positive. After the test, you can __________! (confide/party).


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Tongue Twisters: The Long E


Prost! Cheers! Salut! Mazeltov! From the two travel companions enjoying a good Flens beer: BamBam and CoCo (brown)

I’d like to start this tongue twister with this anecdote: Four campers- two Americans and two Germans- are in the forest at an open fire when the Germans go to the camper to get some Frankfurters for the fire. Seconds later they come back screaming “BEER!” As big of beer fans as they are, the Americans run to the camper, assuming they are getting a good deal on a bottle of beer. However, as they arrive at the camper, they’re greeted with this:

By the way, that is a BEAR- as in BÄR in German! And by the way, it is scientifically proven that bears drink beer as seen in this video below:


As a tip, if a German says BEER in distress, ask them if they mean BEAR!


This is one of the most common problems we have with pronunciation of words in English. People see the spelling of English words but pronounce them in their foreign language. This example of the mispronunciation of BEER and BEAR is a classic example of such, both in general as well as in this segment of tongue twisters dealing with the long –E- in English.


Long –E- words feature the following word categories, all of which have the common denominator of stretching the mouth horizontally, “Eeeeeeeeeeeee.” :

-EE-: Words with –ee- also at the end, such as:  deed, see, bee, ween, beech, need, steel, seem, queen, street, coffee, squeeze, freeze, committee, fifteen, teenager, etc.  And yes, BEER falls here. The exception is the word “been” because it has the short “-e” pronunciation.


-EA: Many words, mostly with the endings of –ch, consonant+ e, -d, -l, -m, -n, -r, -on and –t  fall into this category, such as the following: reach, clean, beam, seam, leave, treat, rear, real, deal, reason and season.

Keep in mind, that words, like READ and  LEAD also have the short –e pronunciation, but different functions. Read is a homophone, whose short –e form is past tense. Lead (long –e) means to direct a group (German: Führen) but the short –e form means a metal found in water and pencils (German: Blei).


-IE: Like in the first two categories, one will find quite a few –ie- words whose pronunciation has the long –e-. Examples include: chief, field, ariel, adieu, thief, premier, and hygiene.

Please note that words with  –ie at the end, have the long –i- pronunciation, such as die, lie and pie.


-IE_E: Words with –ie plus a consonant + e ending also have the long –e sound. Examples: believe, relieve, perceive, piece, achieve, butadiene, apiece, niece.

-Y: Most words with a consonant plus a y will also have the long –e- sound, such as the following examples:    body, marry, vary, wary, dairy, very, wavy, Navy, family, baby, cherry, thirty, memory, baby.


Yet take care that words with the following consonant+ y ending end with a long –i- sound: -l, -n. –p, -p and –r. Examples: cry, try, lying, rely, apply, reply, xylophone.


_-E: Yet as a general rule, words with the consonant+ e at the end, unless a vowel predates the ending, always have the long –e for sound. Examples include: Japanese, Chinese, delete, concede, gene, these, geese, complete, interfere, here, severe, theme.


To sum up, long –e- words can be found in words that either have –ee-, -ie-, -ea, spellings as well as with an –e at the end, keeping in mind the exceptions.  Any questions?


If not: here’s a youtube video with a guide on pronouncing the words in long –e- form. This is done in a form of tongue twisters and like in the previous Tongue Twister articles (click here and scroll to see the rest), you can listen then pause to allow yourself or your class to practice.


And yes, we have bears drinking beer in this video! 😉 Enjoy! 🙂


Prost! 😀

Bear drinking beer at a Bavarian restaurant. Source:


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Aufhören in English: The many different ways to express it.


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.

Aufhören in English2jpg

Hope they help. 🙂


Why German is a beautiful language

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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! 😀