Episode 2 – Stress Free German

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Welcome to Lesson #2 of Stress Free German. I want to make sure everyone here has listened to Lesson 1. This course is cumulative, and each new one assumes you’ve mastered everything in all prior lessons. I also need to confirm that you download those two images from the site. These pictures are the tool we’ll be using to master the gender of German nouns. If so, let’s go!

Let’s start by reviewing what we learned in the first lesson. So imagine you’re in Munich with some friends of yours who don’t know any German. Please translate each German phrase for your friends.

Wo ist mein Papa?

Where is my dad?

Das ist mein Hund.

This is my dog.

Wo ist der Apfelbaum?

Where is the apple tree?

Hier ist der Park.

Here is the park.

Got those? Cool. Now try to say…

Here is your dad.

Hier ist dein Papa.

This is your apple.

Das ist dein Apfel.

So, on to today’s image: Remember that apple that was under the tree? Well, that apple is now inside, on a table. Just behind the apple is a big block of cheese. It looks like Swiss cheese, with those holes in it. Behind the cheese stands a bottle of orange juice. And in the background someone has left the refrigerator open. Can you see all that? It had five elements:

Apple, cheese and juice on a table, by an open refrigerator.

Here are those three foods in German.


Can you figure out what each word was? Listen again…

APFEL…is apple. We already know that


Mozzarella, das ist Käse. Parmesan, das ist Käse. Cheddar, das ist Käse.

So KÄSE is the German word for cheese. Think of the Spanish word Quesadilla…which is a cheese-filled tortilla. And the last food item was…

SAFT…It’s a word we often hear as a compound. For example…

Apfelsaft, Orangensaft, Grapefruitsaft

So saft on its own is just juice. Try all three again: Apple, cheese, juice


In our picture, the foods were sitting on a…TISCH

In English it’s a table, in German…TISCH.

At least they both begin with a T. And…

And in the background, is an open KÜHLSCHRANK.

KÜHLSCHRANK…literally the “cool closet” or “cool cabinet”…is a refrigerator

As you repeat each one after our native speaker, try to envision that element of our picture. Ready?


As with lesson 1, these words are all masculine nouns, and again, they are all concrete. I mentioned that last time,. A concrete noun is something you can draw a picture of. Take the word banana. I can draw a picture of a banana so that everyone in the room immediately says, “Why, that’s a banana!” Because it’s a concrete noun. But imagine trying to draw the word humility. Or intrigue. Right? Not possible. Because those aren’t concrete nouns. In these early lessons, concrete nouns will be our main focus. Speaking of which, let’s see how many you recall. Ask…

Where is my juice.

Wo ist mein Saft?

Ask a friend: Where is your cheese?

Wo ist dein Käse?

This is my table.

Das ist mein Tisch.

Here is the refrigerator.

Hier ist der Kühlschrank.

This is my apple juice.

Das ist mein Apfelsaft.

You guys are doing great!


Imagine the waiter brings three glasses. You take one glass and tell her:

This is my orange juice.

Das ist mein Orangensaft.

You hand her one glass, saying: This is your apple juice.

Das ist dein Apfelsaft.

Since your friend Thomas is still in the bathroom, you slide that third glass towards his seat and you say…

Das ist sein Grapefruitsaft.

How does sein translate, do you think? This one’s mine, this one’s yours, and this is…sein. His.

Try to say: This is his table.

Das ist sein Tisch.


how about: Where is his dog?

Wo ist sein Hund?

So, now we have three words which indicate ownership or possession…and which happen to rhyme.

Their masculine forms are:


Take a moment to visualize three apples on a table. One is yours, one is your friend’s, and the third belongs to a guy who isn’t at the table. As you touch each apple say: Mine, yours, his.


Let’s put that aside for a minute and work with the German word ein. So imagine we’ve magically transported into that first picture from Lesson 1. Amazed, you look around and simply note what you’re seeing. Like…Wow, a park.

Ein Park.

A dog.

Ein Hund.

A tree.

Ein Baum.

An apple.

Ein Apfel.

Now here comes a really cool aspect of German. Check it out. If I say that I have an apple, something happens to that word “ein.” Listen…

Ich habe einen Apfel.

Ein became einen. Listen to our native speaker.

Ich habe einen Apfel.

Hmm. Does that happen with other verbs? Let’s try: I see an apple.

Ich sehe einen Apfel.

Yup. Ein changed to einen. How about: I want an apple.

Ich will einen Apfel.

Sure enough. Ein becomes einen. And here’s why: When we do something to a masculine noun, the supporting words change. So the articles like der and ein, but also adjectives like my, your, his, big, blue, funny…they will all get that “en” added to the end.

Why did I say this was cool? After all, most students find this case system to be weird and confusing. It’s not, though. It’s helpful. Really helpful. And as we progress through the course, you going to feel it. You’re going to feel why this system is so cool and so useful. For now, though, let’s just work with the pattern. So, let’s do some listening….

Das ist ein Hund. Ich sehe einen Hund.

She said: This is a dog. I see a dog.

So we had ein in the first phrase, because nothing is happening to the dog. It’s just existing. But einen in the second phrase because we are seeing it. And seeing counts as doing something to the dog. How about this one…

Das ist ein Kühlschrank. Ich habe einen Kühlschrank.

he said: This is a refrigerator. I have a refrigerator. Again, having the fridge counts as doing something to it. Try this next one. And hit pause if you need more time….

Where is his table? I have his table.

Wo ist sein Tisch? Ich habe seinen Tisch.

Did you say sein in the first phrase, but seinen in the 2nd one? Excellent.

Tell your friend: I have your juice.

Ich habe deinen Saft.

Do you see why it’s vital to know the gender of every German noun? If you didn’t know that juice was masculine, you would not have been able to say: I have your juice. This is why our visual system of grouping concrete nouns by gender–these pictures that we’re making for you–this is going to make your German fast, accurate, and grammatical. Ok, time for….

——————————————- TIP OF THE DAY ———————————————

So there’s a good technique for developing your memory. What you want to do is, once you’ve learned a few new words, or even just one new phrase, take a moment to think about something else. Try to recall all the meals you ate yesterday, or the plot of a show you watched recently. You want to focus all your attention elsewhere…same thing I’m making you do right now. Right? Then after a minute or two of that distracted thinking, you try to recall as much as you can of what you just learned.

This concept is called Spaced Repetion, and there are apps that test you that way. Those are fine, but really you want to make it habit that you do yourself, especially when first learning something. So take a moment and ask …what were all the words we learned so far in this podcast. I’ll wait, while you find the PAUSE button.


Alright…so, how’d you do? By my count, we learned four nouns, one article, and a possessive pronoun. For the concrete nouns, can you see our main picture?

Käse Saft Tisch Kühlschrank

Okay, let’s work with our major new idea from today. Here it is again: When we do something to a masculine noun, the supporting words change.

One way to really feel this concept is to hold up your right palm, make a fist with your left hand, and…WHAM!…punch your palm. This is the symbol for “doing something” to a noun.

Ask a friend: Is this your juice?

Ist das dein Saft?

I want your juice.

Ich will deinen Saft.

Is this his dog?

Ist das sein Hund?

I want his dog.

Ich will seinen Hund.

Is this my apple?

Ist das mein Apfel?

Where is my apple?

Wo ist mein Apfel?

Did you say mein? Good. After all, nothing is being done to “my apple” there. It’s just existing somewhere.

I see my apple.

Ich sehe meinen Apfel.

Right. Now we need meinen, because seeing counts as doing.

I want a refrigerator.

Ich will einen Kühlschrank.

Even our original article, der, will change in these kinds of (hand punch) phrases. For example:

Wo ist der Mann?

I see the man. (For now just listen…)

Ich sehe den Mann.

Try that again. Ask…Where is the park?

Wo ist der Park?

I see the park.

Ich sehe den Park.

Where is the dog?
Wo ist der Hund?

I have the dog.

Ich habe den Hund.

Alright. That’s the end of the teaching and prompting section. Be sure to head over to StressFreeGerman.com to get today’s image, and to go through the Listening Comprehension audio for lesson 2. You do that, and I’ll see you in Lesson 3!

Lesson PDF Download – Right click on PDF Icon – Save Link As…

25 thoughts on “Episode 2 – Stress Free German”

      1. I chance about this podcast. It is really helpful; it is fundamental and well-understood. I am enjoying it. Thank you for making tough German so simple.

  1. Thanks a lot! This is the best online German course ever ! Learning through images : this advanced technique is really great and helpful, thanks so much. I strongly recommend this course.

    1. Thank you, Barbara. Using the visual center of the brain is definitely a much easier way to approach the language. So glad you’re enjoying it. And we welcome any help in spreading the word about the course.

  2. Wow! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. It’s so easy to understand, even for someone who struggles at times with English grammar, my native language!

  3. This is a great course. I started out my beginning German study with a very serious set of videos and workbooks on Noun Gender, Declensions, Plurals, German Monosyllables…..etc etc.(from which I have learned a lot!) This is such a helpful slow and methodical approach to listening and putting it all together. Thank you!

  4. It is helpful for me to look at endings with noun gender. Most of the time, all feminine nouns end in with -e, -ling, -heit and masculine nouns end with -en, -er, and neuter nouns begin with “ge.” I do not know if this would be helpful for anyone else, but I thought I would share it.
    These lessons have been helpful so far because if you are trying to learn with Rosetta Stone, there is no mention of declensions. You are just trying to figure out the patterns.
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Sam,

      You’re absolutely right. There are definitely patterns in the word endings to help you determine gender. All the ones you mentioned are in the course. For me, it’s a matter of timing. You want to really feel (see) the gender for, let’s say, Sicherheit (as we learn in Volume II, Lesson 3). Once you have that solid, **then** you mention, “Guess what? Pretty much all “heit” words are feminine. Gesundheit, Freiheit, Schwierigkeit…”

      Just my feeling on the order of presentation, is all.

      So glad you’re enjoying the course!

  5. These lessons are, by far, the easiest way I have tried learning German. I used an app program in the past but quickly lost interest because I was struggling. The way visuals are used, as well as slowly introducing new vocabulary with each lesson is really helping me. I like to go through each lesson twice, then a third time to write things down so I have practice writing it too. And as a very visual learner that helps too. Thank you so much!!!

    1. With all the effort you’ve put in Kasey, it’s clear you have a real passion for the language. I’m so glad the method is working for you. If you could share your feelings about Stress Free German with other learners online, it would really help us. Meantime, keep up the great work and I hope to welcome you to SFG Vol II and III!


  6. I really like these lessons. They are well focused (unlike the “drinking from the firehose “ that YouTube seems to have). I just checked out the Listening comprehension audio. Also, terrific!

    Is there an accompanying text for these audios? What is a “bleishift?” Or a “rebenslage…”? I used Google translate audio to learn umbrella, hat, and folder.

  7. Hi!

    first of all: thank you for taking the time to explain this in such detail, much appreciated! I have a high understanding and fairly ok speaking capabilities, but it is the basics that mess me up.

    Working on that now, thanks to you!

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