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Heiraten vs. Verheiraten

It's quite easy to make mistakes with German words that sound nearly the same but have different prefixes and thus different meanings. For example, some verbs using the root verb lassen (to let, to leave):


Der Witzleben ist doch vor zwei Jahren vom Führer entlassen worden.

Witzleben was let go by the Führer two years ago.

Caption 23, Die Stunde der Offiziere - Dokudrama über den 20. Juli 1944 - Part 13

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Sie verlassen den amerikanischen Sektor, Berliner Mauer

You are leaving the American Sector, Berlin Wall

Caption 1, 25 Jahre Mauerfall - Radtour durch die Geschichte

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The verb entlassen can mean "to be fired" or "to be let go," but it can also mean "to be released" as in released from prison. Depending upon its context, the verb verlassen can mean "to leave" or "to abandon."


But what about German words with different prefixes that can be translated as the same word in English? It can be even more confusing to keep these straight. A very good example of this are the verbs heiraten and verheiraten.


Ich weiß, eines Tages, da heiraten wir.

I know someday we'll marry.

Caption 32, Monsters of Liedermaching - Für immer

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Using the example below with verheiraten and the subject reflected as the direct object (example 1: wir/uns, example 2: sie/sich), we arrive at the same meaning: 


Ich weiß, eines Tages, da verheiraten wir uns.
I know someday we'll marry.


Ich weiß, eines Tages, da verheiraten sie sich.
I know someday they'll marry.


Both of the examples could use "get married" instead of "marry". The verb verheiraten, when used without a reflective direct object, has a different meaning, however: 


Die Großmutter wollte den Sohn auf jeden Fall verheiraten.
The grandmother wanted badly to get her grandson married off. 


Another easily confused pair are geheiratet and verheiratet: 


Mein Bruder Martin hat letztes Jahr geheiratet.

My brother Martin got married last year.

Caption 19, Die Wohngemeinschaft - Besuch - Part 3

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Der König freute sich, dass seine Tochter endlich verheiratet war.

The King was delighted that his daughter finally got married.

Caption 37, Märchen - Sagenhaft - König Drosselbart

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Both geheiratet and verheiratet can be translated as "got married," but there's a big difference in how you use the words. The word geheiratet is a past participle of the verb heiraten. The word verheiratet, on the other hand, is an adjective which stems from the verb heiraten. Thus you can can say: Ich habe geheiratet ("I got married") or Ich bin verheiratet ("I am married") but not vice-versa! A good way to remember the difference is that the prefix ge- ist one of the most common prefixes used in past participles of German verbs. 


Further Learning
Look for variations of heiraten and verheiraten on Yabla German to see them in a real-world context, and take a look at this article on the topic!

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Comparative adjectives express a higher degree of a particular quality, whereas superlative adjectives express the highest degree. In order to create comparative adjectives in English, we add "-er" to the end of shorter adjectives (such as "cheaper") or add “more” in front of longer adjectives (“more expensive”). In German, -er is added to all adjectives regardless of how many syllables they have. Mehr is never used for this purpose. 


„Nichts leichter als das", antwortete Frederick.

"Nothing easier than that!" answered Frederick.

Caption 4, Piggeldy und Frederick - Arm

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Aber was noch viel wichtiger ist als der Saft zum Frühstück, ist natürlich der Kaffee.

But what's far more important for breakfast than juice is, of course, coffee.

Caption 14, Jenny beim Frühstück - Teil 1

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Superlative adjectives in English either have "-est" at the end or are preceded by the adjective “most” ("cheapest," "the most expensive"). In German, the suffix -ste or -sten is used, depending on the declension. Take note: Putting meist in front of an adjective will give it a fully different meaning (similar to "mostly"). 


Das ist das schönste Gefühl auf der Welt.

That is the most beautiful feeling in the world.

Caption 66, Kinotipp - Kokowääh

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Am einfachsten ist es bei Papier und Pappe.

It is easiest with paper and cardboard.

Caption 11, Eva erklärt - Mülltrennung

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Jeden Tag trug die Prinzessin die schönsten Gewänder und den teuersten Schmuck

Every day the Princess wore the most beautiful garments and the most expensive jewelry

Captions 7-8, Märchen - Sagenhaft - König Drosselbart

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Further Learning
When you learn a new adjective on Yabla German, take a moment to learn its comparative and superlative forms. Keep in mind that there are irregular forms where a slight spelling change (such as an umlaut) is required. Take a look at this table for some examples.

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Relationship Words - Romantic Relationships

This week, we will look at words for indicating various types of romantic relationships. 


First, let’s start off with marriage (die Ehe). Often, a person will refer to their husband simply as mein Mann or their wife as meine Frau. There are, however, more formal terms that you also might hear, in particular der Ehemann / die Ehefrau and der Gatte / die Gattin.


Und so lernte die Prinzessin ihren Ehemann kennen,

And this is how the Princess made her husband's acquaintance,

Caption 35, Märchen - Sagenhaft - König Drosselbart

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Herr Blöhmann, helfen Sie Ihrer Gattin gelegentlich?

Mr. Blöhmann, do you occasionally help your spouse?

Caption 55, Loriot - Die Eheberatung

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For long-term relationships where the marriage aspect is not necessarily relevant, there are a few words to know as well: der Lebensgefährte / die Lebensgefährtin and der Lebenspartner / die Lebenspartnerin


Ich bin Corrys Geschäftspartner.

I am Corry's business partner.

-Aha. Und ich bin Corinnas Lebenspartner.

-Uh-huh. And I am Corinna's life partner.

Caption 49, Mama arbeitet wieder - Kapitel 2: Kompromisse zu finden ist nicht einfach

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So far, most of the words have had an -in ending for the feminine versions. Note that this is different with der Verlobte ("the fiancé") and die Verlobte ("the fiancée"), as only the article changes. You may remember that this is similar for der Bekannte and die Bekannte ("the acquaintance").


As noted last week, der Freund / die Freundin can either refer to a friend or a girlfriend or boyfriend. It is necessary to notice the context in which the word is being used. 


Ich würde mir wünschen, dass ich mit meinem Freund verheiratet wäre.

I hope that my boyfriend and I will be married.

Caption 56, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch

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Further Learning
If you missed last week's lesson on platonic relationships, you can look at it and other past lessons here. Memorize the vocabulary words from both lessons using flashcards, and practice constructing sentences with those that are most relevant for you.

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