Episode 20 – Stress Free German

Full Episode Audio (download link is to the right of the volume icon)

Listening Comp. Audio (download link is to the right of the volume icon)

Welcome to Lesson #20 of Stress Free German, and congrats on reaching the final lesson of Volume 1. I know how much time and effort you put in to make it here, so I hope you keep your momentum going by joining me in Volume II. Just head over to StressFreeGerman.com and click on the banner.

Let’s start by recalling this phrase: We are going to the movies.

Wir gehen ins Kino.

I’m going to the museum.

Ich gehe ins Museum.

And why are they saying “ins?” As we learned back in Lesson 10, it’s a contraction of in and das.

Okay, but what about a masculine location? Hit pause and take a guess on how we might say:

I’m going to the park.

Ich gehe in den Park.

Why is it in den? Because going towards something counts as doing something to it.

Usually. Back in Lesson 14 I mentioned that there was one common exception to this idea, and now is the time to talk about it. It’s this little word zu.

Because you can also say:

Ich gehe zum Park. zum…zu dem..zum

Here’s the difference between the two. When he says…Ich gehe in den Park.

…he enters the park itself. Take a moment and see that scene. A man walking to the park and actually entering it. Ok. But when he says: Ich gehe zum Park. …he might not actually enter the park. Maybe he’s meeting friends by the entrance. Let’s try it again with another masculine location.

Der Supermarkt.

So given the phrase: I’m going to the supermarket. she might say….

Ich gehe in den Supermarkt.


Ich gehe zum Supermarkt.

With the first one, in den, she is entering the store itself. With the second one, zum, she might not actually enter the store. Maybe she’s going fairly late and the store might be closed.

Another way to visualize this is to draw an arrow piercing the location. The arrow goes into the place. That’s the German word “in.” Then imagine an arrow that ends right in front of the place itself. That would be zu.


So imagine a bank and a post office next door to each other, and an elderly woman standing outside, as if deciding which place to enter. The presence of the woman tells us that in German these two locations are both feminine. Listen…

Die Bank, Die Post

Hey…wait! Isn’t Bank the word for a bench? It is. German, too, has homonyms…words that sound the same but have different meanings. At least they’re both feminine, right?

So let’s say Thomas is going to the post office. Maybe he wants to mail something in one of the boxes outside. Or maybe he’s meeting a friend outside the building. He says…

Ich gehe zur Post.

Right? Our mental arrow ends just outside of the building. But if he intended to go inside and buy stamps, or go in and pick up a package…

Ich gehe in die Post.

Now our arrow pierces the door and goes inside. Same with the bank. Lisa is meeting a friend outside the bank. So as she heads out she informs her roommate…

Ich gehe zur Bank. zu der…zur

But if she intends to go in and make a deposit?

Ich gehe in die Bank.

Let’s try train station. You’re going there because there’s a guy who sells awesome preztels from a little cart just outside the station. So you tell your roommate…

Ich gehe zum Bahnhof.

But if you intend on going inside to buy tickets, or to wait inside for a friend’s arrival…

Ich gehe in den Bahnhof.

Normally when we say we’re going to the movies, we mean we intend to end up inside it, watching a movie.

Wir gehen ins Kino.

But if your arrow takes you only to the building itself, maybe to meet friends outside it? What would we say?

Wir gehen zum Kino.

Let’s change topics here for a bit and add a new verb. So, your friend comes over in a great mood. She shows you a train ticket and says…

Ich fahre nach London!

Clearly she’s going to London, but why didn’t she use the other version we learned:

Ich gehe…

Well, the verb fahren also conveys the idea of going somewhere, but it implies by some kind of vehicle. Car, bus, train…even a bike. So she’s saying, I’m traveling to London.

You try it. Say: I’m traveling to France.

Ich fahre nach Frankreich.

We are traveling to Austria.

Wir fahren nach Österreich.

My brother is traveling to Germany.

Mein Bruder fährt nach Deustchland.

Ask a friend: Are you traveling to Berlin?

Fährst du nach Berlin?

Maybe we can combine these two main concepts we’re working on. How might you say…

I’m going (by vehicle) to the supermarket.

Ich fahre zum Supermarkt.

I’m going inside the supermarket.

Ich gehe in den Supermarkt.

How about: I now am inside the supermarket.

Ich bin jetzt im Supermarkt.

Excellent. Back in a bit…


If you think of your vocabulary in a language as a big pot of stew, then the tip today is to remember to constantly stir deep down into the pot. Keep churning the language, mixing old vocab with new. Because, as the saying goes, use it or lose. But the problem is, unless you have an unlimited amount of time, it becomes increasingly more challenging to properly stir one’s growing vocabulary stew. The trick is to choose wisely. Focus on reviewing those words which are inherently more challenging to recall. This is something we do here in this course, and will continue to do in the lessons ahead.

Speaking of which, I hope you’ll continue your journey with the team here at Stress Free German. I may be the voice of the course, but there are a lot of people who’ve come together to make this happen. Thanks need to go out to the tech guys in Hiroshima, Japan, our language partners in western Ukraine and Germany, our graphics team down in Crimea…even the financial guys in the U.S. We’re a small company but we have big ambitions: To help people realize that even the most challenging languages can be easy, even fun to learn.


Time for some review.

Try to say: Today we’re shopping in the supermarket.

Heute wir kaufen im Supermarkt ein.

At the bakery department of the store ask for: One wholegrain bread.

Einmal Vollkornbrot.

Your friend is always late. Tell him: Your clock is broken!

Deine Uhr ist kaputt.

As you head out to go camping, say:

I’m taking a knife with. …implying with me.

Ich nehme ein Messer mit.

Ask a friend: Are you taking his book with?

Nimmst du sein Buch mit?

I’m buying a new garbage bin.

Ich kaufe eine neue Mülltonne.

He is standing on the chair.

Er steht auf dem Stuhl.

Grandma is making a beautiful rug.

Oma macht einen schönen Teppich.

Your friend is wearing a new jacket with the logo of a German bank on it.

Ask: Do you work in a bank?

Arbeitest du in einer Bank?

Tell your boss: I give you, sir, my word.

Ich gebe Ihnen mein Wort.

We know that phrase. But now let’s try it with reported speech. So how will his wife repeat to him:

He is giving you his word.

Er gibt dir sein Wort.

We need a new cutting board.

Wir brauchen ein neus Brett.


Thomas is meeting a friend outside the bank. As he heads out he informs his wife…

Ich gehe zur Bank. zu der…zur

Lisa is going to the train station to buy a newspaper at one of the kiosks outside it.

So she says…

Ich gehe zum Bahnhof.

There’s a good choice of cafes inside the train station, so as Hans heads out he says…

I’m going into the train station.

Ich gehe in den Bahnhof.

Katherine needs to make a deposit at the bank so she says…

Ich gehe in die Bank.

Let’s add one word into the mix that you likely already know. Wann

For example: A friend tells you that there’s a free jazz concert in the park tonight. Having to work until seven in the evening you ask:

Wann ist das Konzert?

How would you translate this next phrase?

Wann fahren wir nach Berlin?

When are we traveling to Berlin?

You try it. Ask: When are we traveling to Dublin?

Wann fahren wir nach Dublin?

When are we going shopping?

Wann gehen wir einkaufen?

When are you going to the post office? (implying going in, to mail something)

Wann gehst du in die Post?

Alright. And for our last little topic today, let’s work with…with. Well, the German version: mit

Spelled m-i-t…mit

What do you think Karl is saying here?

Ich fahre nach Hamburg mit dem Bus. mit…dem…Bus

I’m traveling to Hamburg with the bus. We’ve encountered the word dem before. For example:

Your key is on the table.

Dein Schlüssel ist auf dem Tisch.

Or: I’m in the museum.

Ich bin im Museum. Im is a contraction of in dem

Try to say: We’re traveling with the train.

Wir fahren mit dem Zug.

Of course in normal English, we’d use the word “by”. I’m going by train.

Take a moment, use that pause button, and try to think of how you’d say:

I ride a bike to school.

Ich fahre mit dem Fahrrad zur Schule.

We use zu here because when we’re on the bike, our arrow of movement only goes up to the school. You’re not riding inside it, are you? And why was it zur? Because she’s contracting zu und der…zur.

A key takeaway here is that normally, motion towards a place is considered this (FIST / PALM), right? It’s considered doing something to the place. Usually. But not when zu is involved.

Try that phrase again: I ride a bike to school. Lit: travel with the bike…

Ich fahre mit dem Fahrrad zur Schule.

I traveling by train to work.

Ich fahre mit dem Zug zur Arbeit.

My friend rides a bike to work.

Mein Freund fährt mit dem Fahrrad zur Arbeit.

We’re riding the bus home.

Wir fahren mit dem Bus nach Hause.

Ask your boss: Are you traveling by car or by bus?

Fahren Sie mit dem Auto oder mit dem Bus?

Ask your sister: Are you traveling by bus or by train?

Fährst du mit dem Bus oder mit dem Zug?

Guys, fantastic job….of course on finishing this lesson, but mostly for making it all the way through Volume 1 of this course. It says something about a person when they can choose a goal and stick with it to the end. Of course, in some ways this was only the beginning. Up next, in the first lesson of Volume II, we’re going to talk about our family and friends as we begin to tell our story. I hope to see you there, but if your path takes you down a different road I wish you all the best in your pursuit of the language.


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

27 thoughts on “Episode 20 – Stress Free German”

  1. Good job.. Ich liebe deinen Unterricht. When is the Volume 2 coming out. It’s really a stress free course.. I really need the volume 2

  2. This is the BEST material to learn German language. Live up to its word STRESSFREE. The learning strategy you incorporated is very effective. I will recommend this to my friends. Waiting for Volume II. Danke.

    1. Vielen Dank, Emma!

      Vol II should be released mid-June. Will keep everyone posted.
      Thanks again for the enthusiasm!

  3. Jessica D. Trotter

    Looking forward to Volume II. Is there a list to sign up to be notified when it’s ready?

    Until then…


  4. Hallo Mark,
    This is simply awesome, love your technique, never seen any one else offering it in a “Stress Free Manner”.
    Just a quick query, will I be able to clear A1 & A2 by following this? I would assume , Yes but need your confirmation.

    1. Thanks, Sharma!

      re: A1 exam…According to the Goethe Inst., you need 650 words to do well on the A1 exam. But …define “word.” Are “wen” and “wem” words, and thus are included in the count of 650, or are they lumped into the root word “wer”? What about conjugations? Do we count bin, bist, seid, war, waren…and all the other forms? Or are they lumped into just “sein”?

      The goal of SFG is to turn you into a confident speaker of German. If you master everything that is taught in the first two volumes, and if you’ve been following the repeated advice to supplement with a regular viewing of Comprehensible Input videos, then I certainly hope you do very well on the A1 exam. Hope. But I’m not certain. A future volume of SFG will address these exams, but with Volume III still in production, it’s still a ways off.

  5. Hi,

    Thank you very much for the wonderful lessons! You have certainly made it easy to follow and learn. I look forward to Volume II.

  6. Simply awesome! I am grateful to the team for this amazing work. You certainly make the German language fun and easy to follow and understand.

    I am ready to start Volume II. I will certainly be revising Volune 1 as I go along.

    Kind regards

  7. This course provides the best explanation of cases and case-related endings that I have come across. It’s not only suitable for beginners, but also for intermediate learners who are struggling to get to a higher level, because the foundations they are building on aren’t secure enough. I particularly like the longer Listening Comprehension Audio included with Volume I, Lesson 20, that can be used for regular revision in parallel with working through Volume II.

  8. What an excellent podcast! Nothing measures up to it! If you don´t mind me asking, what´s the level of Volume II and III covered in one bundle for those who are subscribers? B2? I study English and German is obligatory for the third semester of my studies, so I´m supposed to walk away with level B2.
    Way to go!!
    The Czech Republic
    Way to go

    1. Thanks, Vladimir!

      re: level…The course doesn’t concern itself with levels at first, concentrating instead on more meaningful metrics and methodology. But the entire focus of SFG Vol IV is mastering the A1 Speaking exam. Just coming on sale now, (but I wouldn’t skip over Volumes II and III).

    2. PS I love your enthusiasm, Vladimir. If you could share your thoughts on other platforms related to learning German, that would help us get the word out.

  9. Hi Mark,

    This course is fantastic! I always wanted to learn German and your teaching method is the best! I have taken your Russian Accelerator… а сейчас я могу говорить по-русски со своей женой и её семьей. Дома мы говорим по-русски и по-английски чтобы наш сын говорил и по-русски и по-английски. Спасибо вам большое! Кстати, у вас будет «German Accelerator»?

    1. Спасибо большое, Тайлер!

      I’ll continue in English, given the audience here. Thanks so much for the kind words. If you could share your enthusiasm for SFG on other platforms…like reddit, or even youtube….that’d help us get the word out. SFG is planned to be as in-depth as our Russian Accelerator course. Already Volume V is well into production. But we’ll stick wth the audio + PDF format. Thx again!

  10. Hi Mark ,
    I really really like the way you used to deliver the content it’s really fun and engaging the course really lives up to its name I never felt stressed at all while listening, time was just flying really fast while I was listening I couldn’t even feel it.
    Brilliant as usual you absolutely delivered.
    Can’t wait to join you at SFG II,III,IV and V later this year .
    I can’t find enough words to describe how much I am enthusiastic about the content you provide, using SLT to learn Japanese particles and master Russian word order was absolute genius can’t wait to see what you have in your bag for German and I am willing to support you and buy any course for any other language you plan to release in the future speaking about that
    I know that your Russian and Japanese course has been around since 2013 , why after all that time you decided to approach a new territory, the German Language I am just curious to know your Motivation and intention about it ? Will it just be a Mere incident and you will stop after you are done with German or you will be creating courses for other languages after ?
    with my best and sincere regards 🖤

    1. Austrian mother and Austrian grandparents. Dozens of Austrian relatives. Wanted to connect with them.
      Love the enthusiasm. See you in SFG V2!

      1. 😲 I really didn’t expect that .
        I hope get along with your relatives and have a warm relationship with them .
        May God Protect your mother.

        Do you plan to create a new version of these outstanding courses for French or any other languages in the Future after German or this will be just enough for you ?

        1. It’s a function of time and resources, Ahmed. If SFG fans such as yourself could make posts about SFG in language learning forums, that kind of word-of-mouth will allow for more rapid expansion.

  11. Congratulations on releasing Volume IV ,
    I am so excited can’t wait for Volume V already hope I could put my hand on it as soon as possible.
    I am so glad that you considered targeting the speaking portion of Goethe exams.
    So do you plan to do something similar with your Japanese course I mean to create an audio course focusing on the vocabulary and the Speaking portion of the jlpt exams ?

    1. It seem the JLPT test only consists of multiple choice, reading and listening sections. There is no speaking or writing requirement, and so no we don’t have any plans to teach for the test at this time.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top