Saturday, 22 May 2010

More or Less?

I've spent a large part of this week trying to revise various points of German grammar. One useful outcome came from reading about the valency (Valenz) of verbs. Valency is about the number and types of complements (Ergänzungen) a verb requires. Complements include subject, dative object, accusative object, genetive object, prepositional object and so on. Why was this useful? Because it began to make sense of how verbs are handled in dictionaries and when I looked at the Duden Stilwörterbuch I found everything clearly explained in an article preceding the alphabetic entries Zur Anlage des Buches - About the layout of the book. I really should have read that years ago!

More or Less? sums up my puzzlement about when to use verbs in plural and when in singular. For instance,  when oder binds two singular subjects then the  verb will be in the singular - Entweder du oder dein Kollege bringt ... However, if one of the subjects is plural then the verb definitely takes the plural form when the plural subject is next to the verb - Der Lehrer oder die Studenten können ... If the plural subject comes first it seems not to matter whether singular or plural is used - Die Eltern oder der Sohn bestellt/bestellen ...

What is more difficult is using an indication of quantity (Mengenangabe) - Menge, Anzahl, Reihe, usw. No problem when the following noun is also singular but when the noun is plural then the verb might still be singular. Everything depends on whether the subject is seen as a collection of related things (in which case singular) or as referring to unrelated things. I found a discussion about this online This was reiner Zufall as they discuss the very examples I was working with. If I come across examples where the verb is in the plural then I shall give them some thought but I'm not going to spend time worrying about it if I'm speaking or writing. I shall use the singular and be very surprised if I am ever challenged.

Friday, 21 May 2010


radioWissen from Bayern 2 brings together audio and reference material for schools and it includes worksheets and other material to download. You'll find most school subjects, including Deutsch represented on this website. You can look at the offerings by subject (Fächer) or type of school (Schularten) and also A-Z.

When you select one of the subjects you're presented with a list of all that's available for the topic. Click on one of these and you'll get an overview (Übersicht). To reach the audio and other material you have to use the sidebar navigation. I show an example to the left but do bear in mind the navigation varies with the topics and some entries may, for example, not have Arbeitsblätter.

The audio material can be played or downloaded as mp3 files.

With material suited to pupils of different sorts of school, there should be something at a level to suit most people learning German. And you can always pick on a subject that where your Wortschatz is a bit limited.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


I used to live in Upton upon Severn which can begin to look like an island when the river spreads out across the flood meadows. It's probably because of my time there that I tend to notice reports about flooding in the German news. There is some possibility of severe flooding along the Oder by Monday. You can read about this in - Hochwasser-Alarm in Brandenburg There are a couple of videos with this report but you do have to put up with a short advert at the beginning. The really severe flooding was in 1997 and you'll find some reports on that as well.

Of course, German villages and towns are not the only ones that will suffer. Poland has already been badly affected and as the report says "Auch die KZ-Gedenkstätte Auschwitz-Birkenau ist durch das Hochwasser bedroht!"

With reports like this it's worth noting down some of the key points and then try to summarise the passage. Here are some questions that you might try to answer (auf Deutsch): What is a Polder? What is the German for a stockpile of sandbags, for demountable or mobile flood barriers? What other countries have already been affected by floods? What has been improved since 1997?