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ansonsten, sonst, and umsonst

The adverbs ansonsten and sonst in German are most often found in contexts where they can be translated as "else" or "otherwise." You will find that they are generally quite interchangeable, though sonst has a wider range of applications and is used more often in casual conversation.

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Ich kann zwar ein wenig Eislaufen,

I can ice-skate a little bit,

aber ansonsten bin ich auch da eher Zuschauer

but otherwise I'm also more likely the viewer

vorm Fernseher ...

in front of the television...

Caption 46, Deutsche Sporthilfe - Ball des Sports

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Ansonsten finde ich Schauspielerei wahnsinnig interessant.

Otherwise, I find acting incredibly interesting.

Caption 56, Bürger Lars Dietrich - Schlecht Englisch kann ich gut

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Hier werden sie Tieren begegnen,

Here they will encounter animals

die sonst nirgendwo in der Deutschen Bucht leben.

that live nowhere else in the German Bight.

Caption 20, Abenteuer Nordsee - Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Brauchst du sonst noch irgendwas? Duschgel oder so?

Do you need anything else? Shower gel or something?

Caption 33, Die Wohngemeinschaft - Besuch

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Und sonst so? Was geht heute Abend?

And otherwise? What's going on tonight?

Caption 22, AnnenMayKantereit - Es geht mir gut

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The last sentence is an example in which ansonsten would sound quite odd due to the colloquial nature of the sentence. 

More importantly, you don't want to confuse ansonsten and sonst with the adjective umsonst, which can mean "for free," "for nothing," or "without reason," depending on the context. Take a look: 

 

Dass Sie nicht denken, dass in Berlin dann alles umsonst ist.

So that you don't think that in Berlin then everything is free.

Caption 41, Jonathan Johnson - Nahöstliches Essen in Berlin

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Der Freizeitpark heißt nicht umsonst Europa-Park.

The theme park is not called Europa-Park without reason.

Caption 19, Deutsche Welle - Hin und weg - Best of Europa-Park!

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Du bist für mich geboren, ich lebe nicht umsonst

You were born for me, I'm not living for nothing

Caption 4, Marius Müller-Westernhagen - Weil Ich Dich Liebe

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Further Learning
Along with umsonst, you can learn about other adjectives that are used to describe how expensive or cheap something is in this previous newsletter. There are many more examples of ansonsten and sonst used in sentences on Yabla German — just do a search on the homepage!

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