German Lessons | German Grammar

Lesson 2: Freizeit

Dialogue

“Freizeit” means “Free time”. This dialog is of Franz and Greta familiarizing each other with their sports activities.

German Dialogue • Freizeit
Sports and time Sport und Zeit
FranzHallo, Greta! Wie spät ist es?
GretaEs ist Viertel vor drei.
FranzWirklich? Ich spiele um drei Fußball. Machst du Sport, Greta?
GretaNein, ich bin faul. Ich gehe jetzt nach Hause.
FranzFußball macht aber Spaß!
GretaBis dann.
FranzWiedersehen!

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Sports and Activities

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Sports and activities Sport und Aktivitäten
EnglishGerman
sport(s)Sport
interests, hobbies, activitiesHobbys
football/soccerFußball
American footballFootball (spoken as in English)
volleyballVolleyball
basketballBasketball
tennisTennis
baseballBaseball (spoken as in English)
9-pin bowlingKegeln
chessSchach
board gamedas Brettspiel
gamedas Spiel
homeworkHausaufgaben (pl.)
televisiondas Fernsehen/der Fernseher
movieder Film

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Spielen, Machen and Other Verbs

All three verbs that you were introduced to in Lesson 1 are irregular in some way; however, most verbs are regular verbs. The following is a table of the endings you add to the stems of regular verbs to conjugate them:

German Verb • Freizeit
conjugation Konjugation
SingularPlural
first personich-ewir-en
second persondu-stihr-t
third personer-tsie-en
sie-t
es-t

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For example, the verbs spielen and machen,

German Verb • Freizeit
to play spielen
SingularPlural
first personichspielewirspielen
second personduspielstihrspielt
third personerspieltsiespielen
siespielt
esspielt

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German Verb • Freizeit
to do_make machen
SingularPlural
first personichmachewirmachen
second persondumachstihrmacht
third personermachtsiemachen
siemacht
esmacht

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Applications

  • Was machst du?
What are you doing?
  • Ich spiele Basketball.
I play basketball.
  • Spielst du Fußball?
Do you play soccer?
  • Ich mache Hausaufgaben.
I do homework.
  • Er macht Hausaufgaben.
He does homework.
  • Machst du Sport?
Do you play sports?

Note the last sentence. In English one plays sport, while in German one does sport. You can also use the w-words from Lesson 1 to make some more combinations:

  • Warum spielst du Baseball?
Why do you play baseball?
  • Wer hat Hausaufgaben?
Who has homework?

To say “not”, use “nicht”. “Nicht” goes after the verb but before the sport.

  • Wer spielt nicht Fußball?
Who doesn’t play soccer?
  • Wir spielen nicht Tennis.
We don’t play tennis.

Compound Sentences

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Conjunctions Verbindungen
EnglishGerman
andund
butaber
oroder

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Both German and English have compound sentences; the applications of these are enormous. They can be used in lists, but also in compound sentences. For example,

  • Ich spiele Basketball und er spielt auch Basketball.
I play basketball, and he also plays basketball.

The new word, “auch”, is very important and it means “also”. The one grammar rule about “auch” is that it always comes after the verb.

Other Verbs and Their Conjugations

German Grammar • Freizeit
Verbs Verben
GermanEnglish
lesento read
schauento watch
sehento see
arbeitento work
schreibento write
schwimmento swim

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Schauen, schreiben and schwimmen are all regular verbs, they follow normal conjugations. To conjugate , you first remove the ‘ en ‘, then add the correct ending, here is an example,

VerbFirst StepFinished
schauenschauich schaue
  • Arbeiten is an irregular verb; however, it has a simple change. Whenever the ending starts with a consonant, an ‘e’ is added before it. So it would be du arbeitest, not du arbeitst. As well as er, sie, es, and ihr arbeitet, not er, sie, es, nor ihr arbeitt.
  • Lesen is also an irregular verb. First, when forming with “du, er, sie, and es”, it is du liest, not du liesst or du lesst.
  • Sehen is the last irregular verb. When forming “du” it is siehst and with “er, sie, and es” it is sieht.

Two More Verb Forms

There are two more verb forms in English that you will learn this lesson: the present progressive (“I am playing, he is making”), and the affirmative “I do play, he does not play”, which includes a form of ‘to do’.

It might be tempting to make the present progressive sentence, “I am playing.” into “Ich bin spielen.”. After all, ‘spielen’ sounds a lot like ‘play-ing’, but that is not the definition. ‘Spielen’ means ‘to play’, which makes “Ich bin spielen.” into “I am to play.”, not at all what you are trying to say. So it is not “Ich bin spielen.”

The second phrase, “I do play”, is another tricky one. This one may seem like, “Ich mache spielen.” But don’t forget, there are no helping verbs in German. “Ich mache spielen.” just doesn’t work.

Both of the phrases above are simplified in German. Instead of “I am playing.” and “I do play.”, German makes them both simply: “Ich spiele.” When using ‘not’, instead of “does not play”, you get “Ich spiele nicht”. This may sound like old English, and there you see where English came from, and why it is called a “Germanic” language.

Expressing likes and dislikes

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Expressing likes and dislikes Verbindungen
EnglishGerman
I like…Ich habe … gern
I like to play…Ich spiele gern…
What do you like?Was hast du gern?

* I like … also translates to: Ich mag. Mögen being the root verb, to like. What do you like? translates to: Was magst du? Ich mag, du magst, er/sie/es mag, wir mögen, ihr mögt, sie mögen.


In German, there are several ways to express likes and dislikes. This way is a casual way. You can also add other verbs for other things, like asking or saying if they like to play, or make things.

  • To express preference, use lieber instead of gern. For example, “Wir spielen lieber Fußball.”
  • To express favorites, you use am liebsten, meaning “most of all”, in the same context as lieber. For example, “Ich spiele am liebsten Schach.”.
  • To express dislikes, use nicht gern instead of gern.

Numbers

The first big unit in this level is time, which we are just about to get to. German time is very much like English time. However, we must begin with German numbers.

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Numbers Zahlen
EnglishGerman
zeronull
oneeins
twozwei
threedrei
fourvier
fivefünf
sixsechs
sevensieben
eightacht
nineneun
tenzehn
elevenelf
twelvezwölf
thirteendreizehn
fourteenvierzehn
fifteenfünfzehn
sixteensechzehn
seventeensiebzehn
eighteenachtzehn
nineteenneunzehn
twentyzwanzig
thirtydreißig
fortyvierzig
fiftyfünfzig
sixtysechzig
seventysiebzig
eightyachtzig
ninetyneunzig
hundredhundert
hundred and onehunderteins
thousandtausend
1001tausendeins
1101tausendeinhunderteins
3000dreitausend
200 000zweihunderttausend

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  • Above are some basic numbers in German. If you haven’t noticed the pattern, “-zehn” creates “-teen” and “-zig” creates “-ty.”
  • The numerals, when written as figures, appear the same in German and English, but when spoken or written in full, the units normally come before the tens. They are connected by und.

for example, “einundfünfzig”, which is 51, from “eins” and “fünfzig”, notice “eins” turned into “ein”.

  • In spoken words, “zwo” can be used for “zwei”, distinguishing it from “drei”.

Time

Asking the Time

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Time Zeit
EnglishGerman
What time is it? (How late is it?)Wie spät ist es?
What time is it? (How much clock is it?)Wie viel Uhr ist es?
EfIt is 10:15Es ist zehn Uhr fünfzehn.
BoAIt is 10:15Viertel nach Zehn
BoAIt is 10:45Viertel vor Elf

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In table above you might have seen the Ef and BoA, those stand for exact form and before or after. Specific times can be expressed in two ways: Exact form (e.g. “Four thirty-seven”) or before or after form (e.g. “Twenty-three to five”).

Exact form

This form is the same as English. For example,

  • Es ist zehn Uhr fünfzehn.
It is 10:15 a.m.
  • The new word Uhr means “o’clock”, and is used in all exact times, it comes between the hour and the minute.
  • Also, German-speakers generally use the 24-hour clock when expressing time this way, therefore, 3:29 p.m. (15:29) is “fünfzehn Uhr neunundzwanzig.”

Before or After the Hour

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
BoA BoA
EnglishGerman
After, Pastnach
Till, tovor
quarterViertel
half beforeHalb

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  • Use the same form as in English. For example, 10:57 can be said as, “drei vor Elf(three minutes to eleven”. Likewise, 4:10 would be “zehn nach Vier(ten minutes past four).”
  • Typically, use the smaller time interval with ‘nach’ or ‘vor’. Don’t say, “siebenundfünfzig nach Zehn.”
  • You don’t need a vor when using halb. For example, 11:30 can be said as, “Halb zwölf” and 5:15 can be said as “Viertel nach Fünf”, 5:45 would be “Viertel vor Sechs”.

Note: This is only used with informal time telling. You don’t use ‘Uhr’.

Saying When You Do Something

Wann spielst du Football? (Football means American Football. The much more popular soccer would be “Fußball”, which lit. means Football)

To say you play a sport at a certain time in English, you would answer, “I play football at 3:30.” This is all the same in German, with the translation of ‘at’ being um. That makes the above response “Ich spiele Football um halb Vier.” or “Ich spiele Football um fünfzehn Uhr dreißig.”.

Other Time

Times of Day

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Times of Day Tageszeiten
EnglishGerman
the dayder Tag
todayheute
tomorrowmorgen
the day after tomorrowübermorgen
yesterdaygestern
the day before yesterdayvorgestern
(early) morningMorgen*
morningVormittag
afternoonNachmittag
eveningAbend
nightNacht

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*In German, except the capitalization, the words for “morning” and “tomorrow” are the same: morgen. If you want to say tomorrow morning use morgen früh (meaning: early on the next day) instead of Morgen morgen.

  • The words above can be combined into phrases like “gestern Abend”.

Days and Months

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Days Tage
EnglishGerman
MondayMontag
TuesdayDienstag
WednesdayMittwoch
ThursdayDonnerstag
FridayFreitag
SaturdaySamstag
SundaySonntag

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  • Instead of “Samstag” you can say “Sonnabend”.
German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Months Monate
EnglishGerman
JanuaryJanuar
FebruaryFebruar
MarchMärz
AprilApril
MayMai
JuneJuni
JulyJuli
AugustAugust
SeptemberSeptember
OctoberOktober
NovemberNovember
DecemberDezember

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  • To say “on Monday”, say “am Montag” or whatever applies. To say “in January”, say “im Januar” or whatever applies. This is the same for all of the days and months.
  • You can also combine the times of day from earlier with the days of the week. But they’re both nouns. To do this, therefore, we must combine the two words into one, as in “Dienstagnacht” (Tuesday night).

Culture Note: The German week begins on Monday.

Dates

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Dates Daten
EnglishGerman
first of (month)erster
second of (month)zweiter
third of (month)dritter
fourth of (month)vierter
seventh of (month)siebter
eighth of (month)achter
-th of [below 20]-ter
tenth ofzehnter
twentieth ofzwanzigster
thirty-first ofeinunddreißigster
-th of [20 to 31]-ster
on (the)am

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  • The ordinal numbers from 2 to 19 take the endings t and from 20 upwards take the ending st
  • For example “on the 25th of December”,
Simply say “am fünfundzwanzigsten Dezember.”
In other cases you say “fünfundzwanzigster Dezember” or “der fünfundzwanzigste Dezember”.
  • In Germany, dates are written out in the logical order Day . Month . Year, instead of the American Month/Day/Year.
German uses a dot instead of a slash. Do not use the slash in dates, as it is unusual and confusing because you cannot tell if “4/6″ means 4th of June (4.6.) or 6th of April (6.4.)

Birthdays

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Birthdays Geburtstage
EnglishGerman
BirthdayGeburtstag
Happy BirthdayAlles Gute zum Geburtstag!
Best wishes on your birthday!Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag!
Here is your present!Hier ist dein Geschenk!
Thank you!Dankeschön!
That’s a nice party!Das ist eine tolle Party!

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  • To say, “My birthday is on November 13th”, say, “Ich habe am dreizehnten November Geburtstag.”

Here am dreizehnten November, 13. November and 13. 11. represent the same date.

Note the order; it translates back literally as “I have on the 13th of November birthday.”

Seasons

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Seasons Jahreszeiten
EnglishGerman
SpringFrühling
SummerSommer
AutumnHerbst
WinterWinter
in (the)im

To say “in Summer”, say “im Sommer”. For example,

  • Im Sommer spiele ich Baseball.
I play baseball in summer.

The time always goes before the verb and the subject. (time, verb, and subject)

Periods of Time

If you want to express a certain period of time, but it doesn’t have a specific name, like Nachmittag, you can do it like this:,

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Seasons Jahreszeiten
GermanTime
vonStarting Time
bisEnding Time
  • This is the same as from … till … in English.
  • This can also apply with dates. For example, “Wir haben Schule (school) von Montag bis Freitag”.
  • Exceptions
Wir haben frei vom fünfundzwanzigsten Dezember bis zum zweiten Januar.

How often?

Wie oft?, there are many ways to answer this question. Two are “once, twice, or three times in a …” or “always, often, or never.”

A Number or Times

To say, “once a month”, or “four times a week”, add “mal” to the end of the number and use the examples below.

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Daily Täglich
EnglishGerman
Dayam Tag
Weekin der Woche
Monthim Monat
Yearim Jahr
Weekendam Wochenende
Morningmorgens
Eveningabends
Afternoonnachmittags
Nightnachts oder in der Nacht

For example

  • Wir kegeln zweimal in der Woche.
We bowl twice a week.

Common Adverbs

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Sometimes Manchmal
EnglishGerman
alwaysimmer
most of the timemeistens
oftenoft
sometimesmanchmal
seldomselten
nevernie
onlynur
  • To apply these words, put them in the sentence, after the verb and subject, but before the sport/activity.
  • You can also use ‘nur’ to say things like, Sie spielt nur manchmal Tennis.
  • Note that if this is translated word-for-word, it becomes, She plays only sometimes tennis. That’s just the way German is.

Time-Related Words

German Vocabulary • Freizeit
Sometimes Manchmal
EnglishGerman
Timedie Zeit
Free timedie Freizeit
  • To say you have time, ignore the ‘die’.
  • To say when, insert other phrases you have learned this lesson. For example, Ich habe am Samstagabend Zeit.
  • Note that the word order is the same as that of birthdays. You can use Freizeit in the same way.

1 Comment

  • #1 by nathan n. ferguson on December 17 - 9:43 pm

    Quote

    WUDERBAR !

*