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7 mistakes people make when starting to learn German

Whenever you’re learning anything, mistakes are sure to come. You shouldn’t fear failure and making mistakes as this is just a way to show you what areas you need to improve on and when it comes to learning German there is no exception. Although mistakes are usually unavoidable you can at least try to avoid the 7 mistakes people make when starting to learn German so if you want to find out, keep on reading.

1. Mixing up the Genders

A common mistake people tend to make when it comes to learning German is mixing up the genders. The German language is made up of 3 noun genders;

  • masculine

  • feminine

  • neuter

If your native language is English or any language that doesn’t use genders for nouns this can come as quite a shock causing the common mixing up of genders. But mixing up the genders when learning German can be a great way to ensure that you always remember the correct gender for a word.

Since German nouns have a gender, associating them with a gender can help you learn them more easily. One way to do this is to create a mental image or association with the word. For example, when learning the word for chair (der Stuhl), you might imagine a male chair standing up and looking proud. This will help you remember that der Stuhl is a masculine noun. Similarly, when learning the word for die Blume (flower), you might imagine a woman picking up a pretty flower. This will help you remember that die Blume (flower) is a feminine noun.

2. Word Order

When it comes to mastering the German language, one of the most common mistakes people make is getting the word order wrong. In German, the order of words in a sentence can change the meaning of the sentence entirely. This is because German is a language that follows a strict subject-object-verb (SOV) word order.

For example, if you were to say “Ich esse das Brot” in German, it would literally translate to “I eat the bread”. However, if you were to mistakenly say “Das Brot esse ich”, it would translate to “The bread eats I”, which doesn’t make sense. Another common mistake people make is using the wrong form of the word. In German, there are two distinct forms of the word, the nominative and the accusative. The nominative form is used when the subject is performing the action, while the accusative form is used when the action is being done to the object.

3. Capitalization Rules

When it comes to capitalization rules, the German language has its own set of rules to follow. While some of these rules may be similar to English, there are some

differences that can be difficult to remember.

Here are some common mistakes people make when learning German capitalization rules. First, in German, all nouns are capitalized. This includes proper nouns like cities, countries, and people’s names, but also common nouns like verbs, adjectives, and nouns of any kind.

German capitalization rules also require capitalizing verbs and adjectives when used as part of a noun phrase. For example, the noun phrase “die Welt” (the world) is capitalized, but the verb “sein” (to be) is not. This can be confusing for English speakers, as in English, verbs and adjectives are rarely capitalized. Also, German capitalization rules also require capitalizing nouns in titles and subtitles of books and other works.

4. Mixing up German and your native tongue

Mixing up German and your native tongue can be especially challenging when the two languages are similar in pronunciation and spelling. As a result, it can be difficult to remember which words belong to which language.

The most common mistake people make when it comes to mixing up German and their native tongue is mixing up verb conjugations. This is because there are several different verb conjugations in German, while many native languages only have one. For example, in English, the verb “to be” is always conjugated as “am, is, are”. However, in German, the verb “sein” can be conjugated as “bin, bist, sind”, depending on the context. Therefore, it is important to be aware of this difference. Another common mistake people make when mixing up German and their native language is mixing up adjectives. German adjectives are often declined, which means that they must be conjugated in order to agree with the gender and number of the noun they are modifying. This can be especially confusing for native English speakers who are used to adjectives that are not declined.

5. Thinking metaphors translate perfectly

When learning German, it can be tempting to try to draw on metaphors and analogies to help explain concepts. While metaphors are a common thing in the English language, it may not necessarily translate perfectly when learning German. One mistake people often make when attempting to use metaphors in German is assuming that the same metaphors will be used as in English.

For example, an English speaker may try to explain a concept using the phrase “it’s a piece of cake”. In German, however, this phrase would be translated as “Es ist ein Kinderspiel”, which literally means “it’s a children’s game”. Another mistake people make when using metaphors in German is assuming that the same English phrases can be used in a variety of contexts. For example, the phrase “it’s raining cats and dogs” is commonly used to describe heavy rainfall. In German, however, this phrase translates to “es regnet Bindfäden” which literally means “it’s raining threads”. This phrase is typically used to describe light rain, not heavy rainfall.

6. Mixing up the formal and informal

The German language is often used in formal settings, like in a business meeting, or when talking to someone you don’t know. On the other hand, the informal language is often used when talking with friends and family, or in a casual setting. This can be difficult for some learners, as the same words or phrases can have different meanings depending on the context. A great way to learn both the formal and informal German language is to practice with native speakers. This will help you to understand the nuances of each type of language and give you the opportunity to ask questions if you don’t understand something. Another way to learn the formal and informal language is to watch German films or television shows. Pay attention to how the characters speak and the words that they use in different situations. This will help you to recognize the differences between formal and informal language. Finally, it’s important to remember that German culture is very polite, so it’s important to use the correct language in order to show respect so if you're ever stuck on whether to use the formal or informal stick with the formal.

7. Adjective endings

Making mistakes with adjective endings is a common pitfall for German learners, but it’s important to remember that it’s all part of the learning process. The best way to avoid making mistakes is to practice as much as possible and to pay attention to the gender and number of the nouns when you are constructing sentences. It’s also helpful to break down the process of forming adjectives into steps. The first step is to identify the gender and number of the noun. Then, decide which article (der, die, das) to use.

Finally, you can add the correct adjective ending. Adjectives in German have multiple endings that change depending on the gender, number, and case of the noun they are describing. It is important to learn these different endings in order to correctly express yourself in the language. For example, the adjective “alt” (old) has four different endings depending on the noun it is describing: -er for masculine nouns, -e for feminine nouns, -es for neuter nouns, and -en for plural nouns. In addition to knowing the correct endings for adjectives, it is also important to know when to use them. For example, the endings are not used when the adjective is used as a stand-alone word or when it is used as a predicate.


If you enjoyed reading about the 7 mistakes people make when starting to learn German and would like to avoid these mistakes then make sure to take a look at the GermanMind website where you can find excellent German Beginner courses to help you learn and improve your German in the best German Language School in Dublin.

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