8 Typically "German" Sentences
Over the last 5 years living and teaching English in Germany, I've heard almost every possible mistake you can make when speaking English. But here are 8 incorrect sentences I've heard A LOT!
If you're a German who speaks English, you've probably said one of these before. That's OK, but now's the time to learn how you should actually say these phrases.
Can you make a photo from me?
This one gets said all the time when you're traveling with or around Germans. And let's face it, Germans love to travel. When I was in Australia and New Zealand, I felt like every hostel was half German. In fact, that's where I started to learn German again after a break of a couple of years.
But anyway, back to the question. So what's wrong with this? Well first, we don't make photos in English. We take them. And second, it's a photo of me. Yes, sometimes von means from, but sometimes it means of.
I invite you for a beer.
This word invite is super confusing for Germans. Invite just means that you tell the person they are allowed and welcome to come to an event or place.
Like, I'd like to invite you to subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Or, I'm having a party tonight. You're invited.
Or, it would be boring to have dinner with just you. Who should we invite to join us?
When we say this, it has nothing to do with paying. It just means that the other person is welcome to come join.
Let us make party later.
Kind of like the example with making a photo, we don’t use make with party. So how do we say Party machen?
Well, it depends on exactly what you are doing.
Are you driving with the train or with the bike?
Only people who work for Deutsche Bahn or BVG or whatever actually drive a train. What you do with a beer in your hand and your headphones on? That’s riding the train or taking the train.
And no one drives a bike. We all ride bikes. And if you are doing that with a beer in your hand and your headphones on, please put on a helmet.
Are you drinking beer?
This can be a fine sentence. It just means that the person is currently drinking beer. Either they have one in their hand or it’s their preferred drink for the night.
However, I often hear this as a general question, like “Trinkst du Bier?” In that case, we have to use the simple present tense.
Enjoy your meal!
There’s nothing grammatically wrong with this, but it doesn’t sound natural. In the US, most people don’t say anything before they start eating. Some say bon apetit (the French version) if they want to sound fancy, or dig in in an informal setting. But most of the time they don’t say anything.
Oh, and please don’t say good appetite or have a good appetite. That sounds really strange.
I live her since 5 years.
Especially in Berlin, where I live, the question “How long have you lived here?” comes up a lot. And most Germans answer with the word since. It makes sense because you’d say “Ich wohne seit 5 Jahre hier.” But unfortunately it doesn’t work like that in English. You have to use for instead. Oh, and you can’t use the simple present either. It’s gotta be the present perfect.
We see us!
So you’ve gone the entire conversation without making any typically German mistakes. Great! Now it’s just time to say goodbye and you say “We see us.” Sounds natural, right? Wrong!
First, grammatically it should be “We will see each other.” With reflexive verbs we need to use reflexive pronouns.
Second, it’s just not natural, even when it’s grammatically correct. Instead, we have some other phrases
So which phrases have you been using incorrectly? Let me know in the comments below.
If you want more information about these mistakes, check out some of my videos. I give more detailed explanations to help you sound more natural when speaking English.
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