Episode 12 – Stress Free German

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Welcome to Lesson #12 of Stress Free German. Let’s jump to today’s new image. This one contains only masculine elements. So imagine someone’s balcony which overlooks a sandy beach. And on their balcony is a table. And on that table is a shiny, silver key. So the table is our masculine anchor. And here again are those three new nouns: key, balcony, beach.


Try as I might, I just can’t spot a connection between the English word key, and the German word

Schlüssel. To my ear it’s a truly foreign word, which means we’ll need to take a little more care when reviewing it, and…Wait…what was it again?


Just checking. Ask: Where is the key?

Wo ist der Schlüssel?

The next word, thankfully, is an easy cognate. In English we say balcony, and in German: Balkon

It’s originally a French word, and the way Germans pronounce it sounds very French to me…with that nasal N.


In today’s image, what was that silver thing lying on the table?


Yes. Good. Alright, and the final word was Strand. It’s that sandy area that lies between the land and the ocean. Luckily, the word for sand in German is a cognate: Sand …so there’s the connection. Imagine scooping up a handful of sand and letting it sift through your fingers. That’s Sand and it’s spilling down onto the….Strand.

Let’s work now with these three new masculine words. So…

Ask Ms. Becker: Is this your key?

Frau Becker, ist das Ihr Schlüssel?

She says: Yes, this is my key.

Ja. Das ist mein Schlüssel.

Ask your elderly neighbor: Do you have a balcony?

Haben Sie einen Balkon?

Where is the beach?

Wo ist der Strand?

Mr. Kraft, I need your key.

Herr Kraft, ich brauche Ihren Schlüssel

I see the beach.

Ich sehe den Strand.

And a quick review of recent vocab…

Say: Here is the bus stop.

Hier ist die Haltestelle.

How might the taxi driver ask: Is that your street?

Ist das Ihre Straße?

You’re at a friend’s house, wanting to throw out some garbage. Ask him:

Where is your garbage bin?

Wo ist deine Mülltonne?

I have a sign.

Ich habe ein Schild

Ask your brother: Where is your bicycle?

Wo ist dein Fahrrad?

We’re going to the movies.

Wir gehen ins Kino.

We’re going to Rome.

Wir gehen nach Rom.


For today’s main topic we’re going to expand on our greeting vocabulary. So, imagine I walk into a large building in Berlin where I have an interview scheduled. I approach the security desk, and try to read the phrase from my phone…

Guten Morgen. Ich habe heute ein Bewerbungsgespräch.

Guten Morgen. Und…Wie heißen Sie?

Off of my blank and confused expression, the guard adds:

Wie ist Ihr Name? Naaameee? Hans? Thomas?

I could be mistaken but I feel like he wants to know my name. So I say…

Ich heiße James Gordon.

Then a voice calls out from the elevators….James? James Gordon?

She’s the woman who offered me the job over the phone. Ich heiße Lisa Kruger.

These greetings and introductions tend to be the first things students encounter when trying to learn German online, and so I’m guessing you’re fairly familiar with them. Still, let’s run through the main phrases again.

My name is Linda Jackson.

Ich heiße Linda Jackson.

Ask your elderly new neighbor: What’s your name? Notice we ask literally: How are you named?

Wie heißen Sie?

Can you guess what the informal version of that would be? Like, you’re at a party where everyone is your age. Ask…How you called?

Wie heißt du?

This is the preferred way to ask someone’s name, at least in my experience. But you can also ask directly: How is your name?

Wie ist Ihr Name?

Raise your hand if you think I’m going to let that slip by without us analyzing it? No one? Right. So what I want to know is: What is the gender of the word Name?

Hit pause and then we’ll talk.


So, what’s the gender? I’ll give you one more hint. I ask my new weightlifting partner…

Wie ist dein Name?

Now do we know the gender? No. Not fully. We only know…what? That it’s not feminine.

What kind of phrase might truly tell us the gender? Can you think of one? How about:

I love your name. Right? Because loving something counts as doing something to it. So if it’s neuter the supporting words won’t change. But if it’s masculine….

Ich liebe deinen Namen.

deinen. Bingo. Now we know that Name is masculine.

And did you catch that the word Name itself changed there? Listen again…

Ich liebe deinen Namen.

There are only a few common masculine nouns that decline like that, where they add that “en” sound to rhyme with the supporting words. No big deal.

Tell your new elderly neighbor that you love her name.

Ich liebe Ihren Namen.

Later, in the lobby of your building you see the woman trying to pull some mail from her box. Ask her: Where is your key?

Wo ist Ihr Schlüssel?

How about: I love the beach.

Ich liebe den Strand.

Let’s pretend your name is Karl. What are two ways to introduce yourself?

Mein Name ist Karl.

Ich heiße Karl.

Excellent. Back in a bit..


Today’s tip is simple to implement, but please don’t over use it. Still, once in a while, it’s good practice to ask questions that you already know the answer to. For example, I might be walking in Berlin. I approach a kind looking gentleman and ask, Entschuldigung, Sie bitte…können Sie mir sagen, wo der Hauptbahnhof ist?

I’m asking where the main train station is…even though I know very well it’s down the street and around the corner. But the great thing is then I can listen to the answer, his word choice and word order and such, without the stress of trying to understand. And when I thank him and walk away in the right direction, he feels good having helped me. In the grocery store you might quickly ask where the fish is. Or in a store, where the changing rooms are. It’s a little obnoxious, though, wasting people’s time, so please don’t overdo it. But again, when you already know the answer, this technique allows you to listen for kind of everything else.

Alright, back to it…

Try to say: The balcony is big.

Der Balkon ist groß.

The beach is beautiful.

Der Strand ist schön.

The key is small.
Der Schlüssel ist klein.

Tell your neighbor, politely…

You have a big balcony.

Sie haben einen großen Balkon.

We’re looking for a beautiful beach.

Wir suchen einen schönen Strand.

tell your friend: You need a small key.

Du brauchst einen kleinen Schlüssel.

Assuming you’re an adult, how will a stranger ask you your name?

Wie heißen Sie?

Let’s pretend your name is Karla. What are two ways to introduce yourself?

Ich heiße Karla. Mein Name ist Karla.


For our last major topic today, let’s add a pair of verbs. Remember today’s opening image? What was lying on that table? Der…

Right: Der Schlüssel

Imagine putting your fingers on the cold, shiny metal. Lifting it off the table, you show it to your roommate and announce: Ich nehme den Schlüssel. Then you put it in your pocket and leave the balcony.

What was that sentence again?

Ich nehme den Schlüssel.

Why was it “den” Schlüssel Because, of course, taking something counts as doing something to it.

So let’s try that verb with a feminine noun. You and your roommate have packed a tote bag with things for your walk. You wrap your fingers around the drooping handles and haul it off the floor, and announce: Ich nehme die Tasche.

Your partner’s passport is lying on the table. You pinch your fingers around it, and show it to her:

Ich nehme deinen Pass.

Which translates, of course, as: I’m taking your passport.

Pick up your roommate’s cellphone and tell him: I’m taking your cellphone.

Ich nehme dein Handy.

What would be the formal version of that? Here…listen:

Ich nehme Ihr Handy. Ihr.

If spelling it with English letters, I’d say: I-H-R

Let’s try that with a masculine noun. Inform your boss: I’m taking your computer.

Ich nehme Ihren Computer. Ihren.

So far so good. And the other new verb? Well, let’s feel that cool silver key in our pocket. You wrap your fingers around it and place it your roommate’s open palm. You tell him:

Ich gebe dir den Schlüssel.

Did she say dir…as in: Wie geht’s dir?

Yes, she did. Because, recall our SLT…the super literal translation: How goes it to you, or for you.

Cool. I like when things make sense. So let’s try that again. Tell a friend…

I’m giving to you the suitcase.

Ich gebe dir den Koffer.

So let’s hit pause and think of how we’d say that same phrase to our boss.


So, to your boss you say: I’m giving to you the suitcase.

Ich gebe Ihnen den Koffer.

Did you figure out that the third word was Ihnen? Because it’s the same logic as before. We took the “for you” part of the formal How’s it going for you? Wie geht es Ihnen?

Imagine your boss is angry that you ate the last jelly donut in the breakroom…the one he’d been saving for himself. You promise him in English, I will never eat another donut, Sir. And then you add in German…

Ich gebe Ihnen mein Wort.

I give to you my….Wort. Wort is a cognate. In English we say word, and in German it’s Wort.

One more time: I give you my word.

Ich gebe Ihnen mein Wort.

Make the same promise to your friend.

Ich gebe dir mein Wort.

By the way, What’s the gender of Wort? Well, we’re doing something to it, we’re “giving” it, and yet the supporting word was just mein. So it must be…neuter.

So let’s end by practicing our two new verbs. As in English, we can use “taking” with the idea of taking some form of transport.

I’m taking the bus.

Ich nehme den Bus.

We are taking the train.

Wir nehmen den Zug.

You can also use this verb at, for example, a food stand. Tell the server:

I’ll take a juice.

Ich nehme einen Saft.

I’ll take a coffee.

Ich nehme einen Kaffee.

I’ll take a tea.

Ich nehme einen Tee.

Tell your son: We’re giving you a bicycle.

Wir geben dir ein Fahrrad.

Tell your boss: I’m giving you my passport.

Ich gebe Ihnen meinen Pass.

I’m giving you his key.

Ich gebe Ihnen seinen Schlüssel.

My daughter was making a little playhouse in her room, so I told her:

I’m giving you a small chair.

Ich gebe dir einen kleinen Stuhl.

Then she had a tea party in her little house. I told her…

I’m giving you a small glass.

Ich gebe dir ein kleines Glas.

I’m giving you a small flower.

Ich gebe dir eine kleine Blume.

Ridiculously good, guys. That’s all I can say. If you’re getting most of these correct, you are doing so ridiculously good in this course. See you next lesson…

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4 thoughts on “Episode 12 – Stress Free German”

  1. Mark,

    I wouldn’t call it a cognate, but I found this helpful to remember Schlüssel… a common brand of locks and keys is Schlage. I have several keys that have Schlage stamped on them. I used the “schl” to help me remember Schlüssel.

    Just thought this might help some others.


    1. Hi Clint,

      The issue, as you’ll see in SFG Volume III, is that ein Schlag is a hit or a punch. So…gotta be careful when making associations sometimes.

  2. I found it easier to remember Schlüssel because I already knew lock was Schloss. But I guess Schloss can also mean castle so I can see how that’d get confusing early on.

    1. Hi Ash,

      We cover this exact comparison in Volume IV. (To do so sooner involves teaching ‘castle’ and how Schloss differs from Burg…akk if which is then getting off-track.)

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