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Zürich: am Ausfluss des Zürichsees


Lesestück 4-1 ~ Eine Geschichte über ZürichEdit

Zürich ist die größte Stadt der Schweiz. Sie liegt am Ausfluss des Zürichsees und ist die Hauptstadt des gleichnamigen Kantons, des Kantons Zürich. Zürich ist ausgesprochen schön gelegen, am nördlichen Ende des Zürichsees—bei klarem Wetter hat man eine gute Sicht auf die Glarner Alpen.
Zürich ist das Zentrum der schweizer Bankenwirtschaft. Neben den beiden Großbanken ('Credit Suisse' und 'UBS') haben auch etliche kleinere Bankinstitute ihren Sitz in der Stadt.

Although this short story contains quite a number of impressive German nouns and adjectives, with the aid of Vokabeln 4-1 following you should have no trouble reading and understanding it. The passage makes considerable use of the German genitive case (English possessive case), which you have not yet learned. However, a clue applicable here: translate des as "of the" or "of" and note there are other der-words that also mean "of the".

Vokabeln 4-1Edit

 die Alpen               Alps 
 der Ausfluss            outlet, effluence           (of a lake)
 die Bankinstitute       banking institutes 
 die Bankenwirtschaft    banking business
 das Ende                end
 die Großbanken         major banks
 die Hauptstadt          capital city
 das Haus                house
 der Kanton              canton                      (Swiss state)
 das Lesestück           reading passage
 die Schweiz             Switzerland
 die Sicht               view
 der Sitz                office
 das Wetter              weather
 das Zentrum             center (centre)
 das Zürich              Zurich                      (city and canton in Switzerland)
 der Zürichsee           Lake Zurich
 d.h. (das heißt)        i.e. ("that is" in Latin)
 Glarner Alpen           Glarner Alps
 man hat...              one has... 
 nach Hause              (toward) home               (compare: zu Hause = "at home")
 anrufen                 call, telephone
 geben  (gab, gegeben)   give
 kommen (kam, gekommen)  come
 liegen (lag, gelegen)   lie (lay, lain)
 am (an dem)             at the
 ausgesprochen           markedly
 bei                     in
 beiden                  two
 etliche                 a number of, quite a few, several
 gleichnamig             same named
 größte                  largest
 klar                    clear
 klein                   small
 neben                   besides
 nördlich                northern
 schweizer               of or pertaining to Swiss

Pronunciation Guide >>

Grammatik 4-1 ~ Introduction to adjectivesEdit

An adjective is a part of speech which can be thought of as a "describing word"—typically, an adjective modifies a noun. In both English and German, adjectives come before the noun they describe or modify. In many other languages (such as French) they usually come after the noun. Here are some examples of adjectives (underlined) you have already encountered:

Ich habe viel Arbeit. I have much work.
Wir haben keinen Käse. We have no cheese.
Bei klarem Wetter hat man eine gute Sicht.    In clear weather, one has a good view
Zürich ist die größte Stadt. Zurich is the largest city.

Because nouns are capitalized in German, it is fairly obvious in these sentences where the adjectives occur: just before the nouns they modify. Note how the endings on German adjectives can change, depending upon the noun (keinen Käse; klarem Wetter; gute Sicht)—specifically, the gender and case of the noun they are modifying. Before explaining the basic rules governing adjective endings, you need to have a better understanding of person, gender, and case in German nouns—concepts that will be explored in the next few lessons.

Finally, realize that the ordinal numbers you learned in Lektion 3 are, in fact, adjectives—subject to the same rules governing word endings for adjectives.

Wer ist das dritte Mädchen? Who is the third girl?
Wir verstehen nur die erste Lektion. We understand only the first lesson.

Gespräch 4-1 ~ Das neue MädchenEdit

Markus und Helena sind Freunde.
  • Markus: Lena, wer ist das neue Mädchen? Die Brünette dort drüben.
  • Helena: Ich glaube, sie heißt „Karoline“.
  • Markus: Sie ist sehr schön.
  • Helena: Sie ist hübsch, wenn man kleine Mädchen mit langen dunklen Haaren mag.
  • Markus: Ja. Ihre Haare gefallen mir sehr.
  • Helena: Markus, du bist ein Ferkel!

This short conversational passage contains more examples of adjectives.

Vokabeln 4-2Edit

die Brünette             brunette
die Haare                hair(s)
das Mädchen              girl
das Ferkel               piglet 
gefallen                appeal to
glauben                  believe
heißen                   name, call
mag                      like, desire, wish
dort                     there
(dort) drüben            over there
dunkel                   dark
ihr                      her
hübsch                   cute
klein                    short
lang                     long
neue                     new
wenn                     if
wer?                     who?

Pronunciation Guide >>

Grammatik 4-2 ~ Nouns and pronouns in the accusative and dativeEdit

As was noted previously when the concept of case was introduced for pronouns (Grammatik 2-2), there are four cases used in German. Recall that the nominative case in German corresponds to the subjective case in English and applies to nouns and pronouns used in a sentence as the subject of a verb. Nouns (and pronouns) that are used as objects of transitive (action) verbs are in the English objective case. If these are direct objects (recipients of the action of a verb), then these nouns are in the accusative case in German. If indirect objects, then these nouns are in the dative case in German. Essentially, the English objective case is divided, in German, into an accusative case used for direct objects and a dative case used for indirect objects.


For comparison with English, recall that the singular personal pronouns (nominative case) are "I", "you", and "he/she/it" (1st, 2nd, and 3rd persons). The objective case, personal pronouns in English are "me", "you", and "him/her/it"—and are used for both direct and indirect objects of verbs. For example:

He gives it [the Direct Object] to me [the Indirect Object].

The German accusative case, personal pronouns (singular) are: mich, dich, ihn/sie/es. The German dative case, personal pronouns (singular) are: mir, dir, ihm/ihr/ihm. Thus, the above English example sentence becomes, in German:

Er gibt es [the Direct Object] mir [the Indirect Object].

Because mir is a dative pronoun, there is no need in German to use a modifier as in English, where "to" is used as a signal of an indirect object. The following table summarizes the German pronouns in three cases for both singular and plural number:

Singular Plural
1st person ich mich mir wir uns uns
2nd person du (Sie*) dich (Sie*) dir (Ihnen*) ihr (Sie*) euch (Sie*) euch (Ihnen*)
3rd person er, sie, es ihn, sie, es ihm, ihr, ihm sie sie ihnen
* Polite form

Recall from Gespräch 2-1 the "incomplete" sentence Und Ihnen? ('And you?'). Note that the pronoun agrees in case (here, dative) with the implied sentence — Und wie geht es Ihnen? The same rule is evident in Gespräch 1-1 (Und dir?). Such agreement is important to convey the correct meaning. Tables giving the German personal pronouns in all cases can be found in an appendix: Pronoun Tables.


Nouns do not change their form (spelling) relative to case in German; instead, a preceding article indicates case. You have learned the nominative case definite and indefinite articles (Grammatik 3-3: der, die, das and ein, eine. ein) for each of the three noun genders. Now we will learn the accusative (used to signal a direct object) and dative (used to signal an indirect object) articles. First, the definite articles:

Singular Plural
Masculine der den dem die die den
Feminine die die der die die den
Neuter das das dem die die den

This table might seem a bit overwhelming (and there is yet one more case in German: the genitive!), but some points to note can make memorizing much easier. First, as you can see from the table, gender does not really exist for plural nouns. No matter what the noun gender in its singular number, its plural always has the same set of definite articles: die, die, den for nominative, accusative, and dative cases. The plural der-words are similar to the feminine singular der-words, differing only in the dative case. Another point: the dative for both masculine and neuter nouns is the same: dem. Finally, for feminine, neuter, and plural nouns, there is no change between nominative and accusative cases. Thus, only for masculine nouns is there a definite article change in the accusative compared with the nominative.

The following examples demonstrate the use of the definite article in various parts of speech:

Du hast die Wurst und den Käse. You have the sausage and the cheese. (accusative case)
Die Geschäftsleute verstehen die Arbeit The business associates understand the work. (nominative and accusative cases)
Zürich ist die größte Stadt. Zurich is the largest city. (nominative case)

In the last example, you need to know that in both English and German, the noun (or pronoun) that follows the verb 'to be' is a predicate noun, for which the correct case is the nominative. That is why, in English, 'It is I' is grammatically correct and 'It is me' is simply incorrect.

The indefinite articles are as follows:

Masculine ein einen einem
Feminine eine eine einer
Neuter ein ein einem

Of course, there are no plural indefinite articles in German or English (ein means "a". "an", or "one"). It is important to see that there is a pattern in the case endings added to ein related to the der-words in the definite articles table above. For example, the dative definite article for masculine nouns is dem—the indefinite article is formed by adding -em onto ein to get einem. The dative definite article for feminine nouns is der—the indefinite is ein plus -er or einer. These ending changes will be covered in greater detail in a future lesson. You will see that there are a number of words (adjectives, for example) whose form relative changes by addition of these endings to signal the case of the noun they modify. Finally, we can see a pattern relationship between these "endings" and the 3rd person pronouns as well:

Masculine indef. article ein einen einem
3rd pers. pronoun er ihn ihm
Feminine indef. article eine eine einer
3rd pers. pronoun sie sie ihr
Neuter indef. article ein ein einem
3rd pers. pronoun es es ihm

We could construct a similar table to compare the definite articles to the 3rd person pronouns. And in that case, we would also see how the plural definite articles (die, die, den) compare with the third person plural pronouns (sie, sie, ihnen).

Grammatik 4-3 ~ InterrogativesEdit

You have encountered nearly all of the interrogatives commonly used in German (review Grammatik 1-2):

 wann                  when
 warum                 why            Warum sind Sie müde?
 was                   what           Was ist das?
 wer                   who            Wer ist das Mädchen?
 wie                   how            Wie geht es dir?
 wieviel               how much       Wieviel Uhr ist es?
 wo                    where          Wo ist das Buch?
 wohin                 where (to)     Wohin gehst du? 

In a question, interrogatives replace the unknown object and establish the class of answer expected.

Was haben Sie? What do you have? (Expected is a 'thing')
Wieviel Arbeit ist zu viel? How much work is too much? (Expected is a 'quantity')
Wann gehst du nach Hause? When do you go home? (Expected is a sense of 'time')
Wo ist der Zürichsee? Where is Lake Zurich? (Expected is a 'place')

Note that the English construction for some of the questions differs from the German in that the former uses the progressive form of "do".

Übersetzung 4-1Edit