Episode 11 – Stress Free German

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Welcome to Lesson #11 of this first volume of Stress Free German. And before we begin, a quick announcement: The next volumes of this course are now available. Just go to Stress Free German.com. When you’re there, click on the banner that says Volume 2. Ok let’s get to it…

We’re going to start with a quick Der-Die-Das quiz. The prompts are going to be locations that we’ve learned, so as I say each location, try to see the picture in your mind, and all the elements in it. This means keeping a finger on the pause button, okay? So say..

the park

Der Park

the train station

Der Bahnhof

the museum

Das Museum

the cafe

Das Cafe

the house

Das Haus

the restaurant

Das Restaurant

the church

Die Kirche

the school

Die Schule

You see how most of our pictures feature a location, to anchor the gender for you. Sometimes our location is smaller, though, like…

the table

Der Tisch

the shelf

Das Regal

the bench

Die Bank

Anyway, on to a new feminine image. It has one anchor element, and three new feminine nouns. So on the right side of the image is an empty street, extending into the distance. It’s got a single yellow line down the middle. Looking at it, you might call it a road instead of street. On the left side of the image is a bus stop. There’s a bench, and a small overhang to sit under. Finally, at this bus stop there’s a garbage bin. So the three new elements are: street, bus stop, garbage bin. In German…

Straße Haltestelle Mülltonne

If you’ve spent any time in a German speaking country, you’re probably familiar with the word for street. Straße

A lot of times they’re named after famous musicians. There’s more than one street in Austria, for example, named after Mozart. Mozartstraße

The next word, Haltestelle literally means the stop site. It refers to any stopping point for local public transport like trams, trolleybuses, and buses. Halt of course is also an English word. As in, The car came to an abrupt halt. Or: Halt, who goes there? So in English we say halt, but in German, the tongue comes up to the roof of the mouth after that L.

(very slowly) Halt


Finally, let’s imagine that garbage can we saw at our bus stop. It’s a large, black plastic bin with a lid. Mülltonne This word Müll on its own represents garbage. But we need to be careful, because on its own, it’s masculine. It’s the bin part at the end that makes it feminine. Mülltonne

All three one more time…

Street…Bus stop….Garbage bin

Straße Haltestelle Mülltonne

Let’s do a quick round using the feminine article. So..

The street is beautiful.

Die Straße ist schön.

The bus stop is new.

Die Haltestelle ist neu.

Here is the garbage bin.

Hier ist die Mülltonne.

Excellent. Back in a second…


So, today we’re gonna get formal. Imagine we’re going to a job interview in a bank in Frankfurt. In this situation, we need to speak formally. And German, like most other European and Slavic languages, uses a whole different set of words when addressing someone formally.

So at 9 AM an assistant named Hans Fisher comes into the waiting room. Let’s greet him…

Guten Morgen, Herr Fisher.

Guten Morgen, Frau Jones. Wie geht es Ihnen?

How might we tell him: Thanks, good, and for you?

Danke, gut und Ihnen?

He says: Thanks, also good.

Danke, auch gut.

Let’s move the interview to just after lunch, and run through the greeting routine again. Ready?

Guten Tag, Herr Fisher.

Guten Tag, Frau Jones. Wie geht es Ihnen?

How might we tell him: Thanks, good, and for you?

Danke, gut und Ihnen?

Thanks, also good.

Danke, auch gut.

So that formal form of “for you”….what was it? Listen again: Ihnen

Suddenly a friend from the gym enters the waiting room. Let’s greet him…

Hallo, wie geht’s dir?

Hallo. Danke, gut und dir?

So let’s compare that key difference between the two greetings. To your friend:

How goes it for you?

Wie geht’s dir?

Same question to your potential new boss:

Wie geht es Ihnen?

Almost time for today’s tip, but we need to quickly review our three new feminine nouns.

Tell a friend: We are searching for your street.

Wir suchen deine Straße.

Where is the bus stop?
Wo ist die Haltestelle?

We need a new garbage bin.
Wir brauchen eine neue Mülltonne.


In our company we also teach Japanese and Russian, and if you’ve taken one of my Russian courses, you might be wondering: Why isn’t he telling us to make flashcards? And yes, I am very big on flashcards for Russian. For German, though, it feels less important. Instead, I recommend making those digital flashcards that I described a few lessons back. Those ones where you put the German word into Google images and take a screenshot.

Still, if you’re wanting to write something down, you might try making a notebook to keep track of phrases. After all, having a list of all the constructions you’ve ever learned is certainly a handy resource. But even then, for this language, because we’re keeping things so visual, you can really review and recall things in a more visual way. You basically just need images to prompt the recall of phrases. Look around your room, your house…your town…Each time you see an object you know, then create a phrase for it. I\m looking for a big dog. They have an old bench. We’re going to the movies. I mean, it’s all out there, ready to prompt a German phrase out of you.

Speaking of prompting a phrase out of you, how would you tell a friend:

I’m searching for your street.

Ich suche deine Straße.

Ask him: Do you see the bus stop?
Siehst du die Haltestelle?

We have a new garbage bin.
Wir haben eine neue Mülltonne.

Next, ask a friend: How goes it for you?

Wie geht’s dir?

Same question to your new boss:

Wie geht es Ihnen?

So let’s get back to today’s main topic, which is learning to speak formally. Right? For our job interview in Frankfurt. Let’s say my German friend Lisa is with me on the interview. We get invited into his office, and I see that we’re short one chair. So I ask…

Hast du einen Stuhl?

Do you have a chair?

Mr. Schneider’s eyebrows raise up, and suddenly Lisa is stepping on my foot. She whispers angrily in my ear…”Hast du???” Mark! Herr Schneider ist dein Chef! Wir sagen, “Haben Sie?”

“Entschuldigen Sie, bitte. Haben Sie einen Stuhl?”

But it’s too late. Two large weightlifters, Hans and Franz, escort me from Mr. Schneider’s office and ask me to learn some manners before contacting their bank again. So Lisa and I go to the park, and we practice the formal forms of verbs. So I start…

Ich gehe ins Kino.

Gehen Sie ins Kino?

So there’s our new conjugation. Are you going?

Gehen Sie?

So let’s continue this part without any English prompts. I’ll say what I’m doing, and then Lisa will rephrase it as a polite question.

Ich gehe nach Hamburg.

Gehen Sie nach Hamburg?

Ich sehe den Park.

Sehen Sie den Park?

Ich habe eine neue Mülltonne.

Haben Sie eine neue Mülltonne?

Ich brauche ein Fahrrad.
Brauchen Sie ein Fahrrad?

Ich suche den Bahnhof.

Suchen Sie den Bahnhof?

Ich liebe den Hund.

Lieben Sie den Hund?

Great job, guys!


In this next section we’re going to do a similar exercise. This time, though, simply rephrase the informal question as a formal one.

Gehst du ins Museum?

Gehen Sie ins Museum?

Hast du einen kleinen Koffer?

Haben Sie einen kleinen Koffer?

Siehst du meine Brille?

Sehen Sie meine Brille?

Brauchst du meinen alten Kühlschrank?

Brauchen Sie meinen alten Kühlschrank?

Suchst du die Haltestelle?

Suchen Sie die Haltestelle?

Gehst du nach London?

Gehen Sie nach London?

And let’s add another key word that we use when addressing people politely. So, you’re at a dog park with your friend Hans, and your new boss, Mr. Gutenberg. Both of them seem to have lost track of their dogs. So I ask…

Hans, wo ist dein Hund?

..and then I turn to my boss…

Herr Gutenberg, wo ist Ihr Hund?

So that was: dein to my friend, and Ihr to my boss. Using English letters it’s spelled I-H-R.

Let’s try that again. This time with a neuter noun. We’re at a skate park…

Hans, wo ist dein Fahrrad?

..and then I turn to my boss…

Herr Gutenberg, wo ist Ihr Fahrrad?

That was: dein to my friend, and Ihr to my boss.

At the swimming pool, both seemed to have lost their glasses. So I ask…

Hans, wo ist deine Brille?

..and then I turn to my boss…

Herr Gutenberg, wo ist Ihre Brille?

deine to my friend, Ihre to my boss

To your friend say: I have your dog.

Ich habe deinen Hund.

Say that to your boss?
Ich habe Ihren Hund.

That was deinen to my friend, and Ihren to my boss

To your friend say: I need your cellphone.

Ich brauche dein Handy.

Say that to your boss?
Ich brauche Ihr Handy.

To your friend say: I see your bus stop.

Ich sehe deine Haltestelle.

And to your boss?
Ich sehe Ihre Haltestelle.

As always, if you’re getting these right, you’re doing ridiculously well.

Keep practicing, and see you next time. Tschuss!

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3 thoughts on “Episode 11 – Stress Free German”

  1. I am really enjoying your lessons and methods. I believe that they are really helping my ability to speak and think in german. I am looking forward to more lessons and progress. Thank you so much!

  2. I am impressed with the quality of all the lessons and the clear and easy to understand explanations. Thank you so much for putting this resource out into the world! Super helpful, enjoyable and actually useful to take off in German! Vielen Dank!

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