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How to learn German fast part 2

How to learn German fast, part 2

Learn the basics of German grammar

The second step is to learn the basics of German grammar. 

Alright, a bit of technicality here for readers who are total beginners. For those of you who are intermediate, or even advanced, you can skip this section entirely. Before you can learn advanced grammar, you need to know the basics of German grammar. This will enable you to learn German really effectively and enjoyably, since the grammar is heart and soul of the language.

The key to understanding German grammar is ... case.

What is case?

There are four basic cases that you need to know for the German language: the nominative case, accusative case, dative case and the Genitiv case. Nominativ, Akkusativ, Dativ und Genitiv. These four cases determine a German sentence.

Nominativ is "the boy", "the girl", commonly known in English as the subject.

Now here's the beautiful part. In German, "the" is not a single word. It is der, die or das depending on the gender of the noun. I often get asked, how do I get around gender in the German language?

And the answer is: just memorise.

Sometimes the gender comes naturally, where die Frau is obviously a female, and das Auto is definitely neutral. The rest of the time, either memorise or learn a few simple rules:

most words ending in -e are feminine (not all!): die Giraffe, die Gitarre

all words ending in schaft are feminine: die Freundschaft

all words ending in buch are neutral: das Englischbuch, das Woerterbuch

and so on. I cooked these up from the back of my head. Actually my opinion is, if you want to do German to a higher level, just take the end section of any good German book with all the vocabulary words and memorise them. Will give you immediate hardship, true, but you will know all the genders. To learn German gender fast, memorise! Repeat, recite, review... memorise! It's that simple.

Now, back to the nominative case: if you think the case is nominative, then

"the" is always der, die or das. Der Mann, die Frau, das Auto. Simple! "A" is always ein Mann, eine Frau, ein Auto.

Akkusativ is the object (quite obviously since the nominative case is already the subject). It's the direct object, so just memorise the following: den, die, das.

"The" is now den, die, das. den Mann, die Frau, das Auto.
"A" is now einen, eine, ein einen Mann, eine Frau, ein Auto.

Dativ is the indirect object, or the noun to whom something is given. I give a book to Tom: Tom is in the dative case, and the book which is being given is in the accusative case.

Memorise: "the" dem, der, dem... dem Mann, der Frau, dem Auto
"a" einem, einer, einem einem Mann, einer Frau, einem Auto

Genitiv means, well, something like an apostrophe. Who does something belong to? Possession. That's Genitiv. Shawn's book, for instance.

Memorise: des, der, des das Haus des Mannes, das Haus der Frau, das Haus des Autos (OK, I know that the house of the car is nonsense, but this is just an example!)

and eines, einer, eines das Haus eines Mannes, das Haus einer Frau, das Haus eines Autos

(note that you have to put an "s" at the back... unless it's feminine).

Having survived such a gauntlet, what's the point? The point is this:

Der Hund beisst den Mann means the dog bit the man.
Der Mann beisst den Hund means that the man bit the dog. So grammar is very important.

Basic grammar that you need to learn:

first, German cases... done!

second, declining adjectives - when the adjectives are put behind a noun, they are declined... this is hard now, but will prove to be very useful in future, trust me...

third, how to conjugate verbs in the present tense, past tense and perfect tense... this is also hard now, but with hard work, you can memorise perhaps top 20-30 verbs that you will need and start sounding like an expert already...

top twenty verbs that you will need (in my own opinion)

1. sein to be
2. haben to have
3. muessen must
4. sollen should
5. duerfen allowed/ should
6. essen eat
7. gehen go
8. fahren drive
9. hoeren listen
10. sprechen speak
11. kommen come
12. denken think
13. sehen see (oh, the Germans like to say gucken see)
14. lesen read
15. glauben believe
16. bleiben stay
17. wohnen stay someplace
18. trinken drink
19. sagen say
20. laufen walk/run

Learn these and you will look very professional already. You're well on your way to learning German. Of course, you will find that it is simpler than it looks, because most of the verbs have a certain pattern or rule to them. My opinion is, find the pattern and it will always be easier. For instance, all the perfect tenses have "haben" in front except for cases of movement, where you use "sein".

Easy, isn't it?

Ich habe gegessen (I have eaten - no motion), und ich bin gekommen (I have come - movement).

fourth, prepositional phrases and objects

Dativ: aus von zu seit nach bei mit
(my favourite way of learning this is ALL VISIT THE ZOO TO SEE THE NINE BEAUTIFUL MONKEYS)

Akkusativ: durch fuer ohne um gegen bis
(Dinosaur finds orange and understands Google's business!)

and that should be it, for a basic understanding that will definitely allow fluent communication if done well.

I have often reiterated that my blog here is just to teach you how to learn a language and not to provide German resources. You can find German resources from online programmes and online systems, paid or otherwise free. I only teach how to learn German. By the way... German speakers who have spotted any mistakes in my grammar, please contact me at once. Danke, und tut mir leid.

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