Sunday 19 August 2012

Adjectival nouns

Please click here to listen to the adjectival nouns podcast directly on your computer.

Monday 24 October 2011

Reported Speech and Konjunktiv I

To listen to this podcast directly on your computer, please click here.

Sunday 17 July 2011


To listen to this podcast directly on your computer, please click here.

Sunday 8 May 2011

Reciprocal Verbs and Einander

To listen to this podcast directly on your computer, please click here.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Where Have All the Posts Gone?

I've taken most of the content of my posts out in an attempt to get round Feedburner's size limits which are stopping my podcasts appearing in iTunes and get my first ten or so episodes of the podcast downloading again. I've moved the content to become comments.

Friday 1 April 2011

Reflexive Verbs

To listen to this podcast on your computer, please click here.

Sunday 27 March 2011

Reflexive Pronouns

To listen to this podcast directly on your computer, click here.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Adjectives and Adjectival Endings

To listen to this podcast directly on your computer click here.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Must Read German Children's Books

This post has been moved to the comments section for space reasons.

Saturday 24 July 2010

How to Use a Dictionary

To listen to this podcast directly on you computer, click here.

Monday 5 April 2010

General Tips & Tricks

This podcast gives you a wide range of tips and tricks for learning a language. It focuses on German, but these tips and tricks could be applied to learning any language.

To listen to this podcast on your computer, click here.

Saturday 9 January 2010

Relative Pronouns3

To listen to this podcast directly on your computer, click here.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Relative Pronouns 2

This podcast covers relative pronouns after prepositions and some other special cases.

To listen to this podcast directly on your computer, click here.

Sunday 31 May 2009

Relative Pronouns

To listen to this podcase directly on you computer, click here.

Sunday 26 April 2009

Sunday 19 April 2009

The Conditional - Part 2

This episode is about more of the really practical stuff you need to know about the conditional.

To listen to the episode directly on your computer, click here.

Sunday 1 February 2009

The Conditional and Umlauts

The conditional basically means sentences with a would. For instance, if I were rich, I would buy a house. To download this podcast directly on your computer, click here.

Sunday 30 November 2008

Word Order - Multi-Clause Sentences

To listen to this podcast on your computer, click here.

Sunday 13 July 2008


See Comments.

Word Order - Exceptions to the Standard Main Clause

Word order has a highly complex set of rules in any language. So many, that I'm not convinced anyone has ever managed to write them all down for any given language. For pretty well every rule there is an exception, and there are even exceptions to exceptions.

This podcast focuses on the most productive rules about exceptions to standard word order, the ones that have a big effect on sentence structure and apply to lots of sentences. It also gives suggestions about what approach to take if you want to be right all of the time instead of most of the time (plus a guide to the level of effort that could take), or what to do to be right enough of the time to be fully understood, without attempting perfection (learning the most productive rules). It also gives some further detail on how standard word order works.

To listen to the podcast on your computer, click here.

Sunday 6 April 2008

Word Order in a Standard Main Clause

German word order in a completely standard, neutral main clause is a follows:

* nominative subject,
* conjugated verb,
* accusative then dative pronoun,
* nouns with definite determiners, in the order dative, accusative
* most adverbials
* nicht – or other negation particles
* adverbials of manner
* nouns with indefinite determiners, in the order dative, accusative
* the complement, and finally
* any other verbs.

My podcast on German word order contains more information about what those terms mean, and also a more detailed version of word order. You can listen to the podcast directly on your computer by clicking here.

Saturday 22 March 2008

Your Recommendations

I've noticed that the blog post about everyone's recommendations for German learning resources on the Internet has slipped off the bottom of the first page of this blog. As I think it's the best and most important post on this blog, I'm putting a link to it in here.

If anyone knows any good German learning resources, it'd be great if you could add to it too.

Wednesday 27 February 2008

February's podcast

Hi all,

It's my aim to put a podcast out every calendar month, but I won't be able to make it this month (February 2008). In part I've had a lot on (I'm getting married in May and the wedding's taking up a lot of my time), but in part the topic I've chosen has taken a lot more work that usual (even more work than the past tense podcasts). That's because the topic is word order, and it's one of the most complex grammar topics there is. I had no idea how much existing knowledge of some things you needed to understand others, before I started writing. Because I try and write my podcasts so that beginners can listen to them too, this has made it an extremely hard topic to approach.

I'm now on my third attempt to write the podcast - and I'm a lot happier with this attempt than I was with the first two, but unfortunately I still haven't managed to finish it. I've decided that instead of rushing and getting more stressed, I'm just going to turn this into March's podcast. I hope when I do manage to finish it, you'll all think it's been worth the wait.

Thanks for listening, everyone.


Sunday 27 January 2008

The Pluperfect

The pluperfect is the ich hatte es getan or I had done tense. You make the pluperfect in German by taking the perfect tense (the ich habe es getan tense) and changing the auxiliary verb (the habe or the bin etc.) into the simple past version of itself (hatte or war etc.). So instead of ich habe ein Eis gegessenI have eaten an ice cream you get ich hatte ein Eis gegessenI had eaten an ice cream. And instead of ich bin im Ozean geschwommenI have swum in the ocean you get ich war im Ozean geschwommenI had swum in the ocean.

Basically, where you would use the pluperfect in English, you also use it in German. There's one exception to this though. Where you are referring to a situation that started in the distant past, but which is still ongoing at a point in the nearer past that you are talking about, although you'd use the pluperfect in English, in German you'd use the simple past. For instance: Since I had lived in Munich, I had been visiting him every Saturday = Seitdem ich in München wohnte, besuchte ich ihn jeden Samstag.

To listen to this podcast on your computer, click here.

Sunday 13 January 2008

Names for the Past Tenses

I've recently had an email from Jim who mentions that there are a lot of names for the German past tenses in both English and German, which makes it confusing. So I've decided to give you a table showing all the different names I've been able to find for the different past tenses. I've highlighted the name I use in the podcasts for each tense by making it bold and I've put an example of the past tense type described in each column at the top. I've tried to group names that seem to relate to each other together, but not everyone will favour three names in any one line or use the translations that are near each other.

Also, I just want to point out that in Latin, the perfect tense refers to actions that have completed (are perfect) by the time of speaking and the imperfect tense refers to actions that have not yet completed or are repeated or continuous (are imperfect) - which is where the names come from. But this doesn't apply to German, which can make using these names for the tenses confusing (particularly for anyone with a background in Latin grammar) and is one reason I decided not to refer to the ich tat es tense as the imperfect tense in my podcasts.

Unfortunately, having written all that, it turns out that you can't put tables in this blog (or at least not by any method I can work out), so here's a link to the table on my grammar and tables website.

Monday 31 December 2007

The Simple Past

The simple past - also known as the preterite or the imperfect tense - is equivalent in form to the English I did form (ich tat es). The way that regular verbs form their simple past is by a or being inserted into the present tense ending. For instance ich kaufe - I buy becomes ich kaufte - I bought and du kaufst - you buy becomes du kauftest - you bought.

The German simple past is mainly used in written German, where it can express most past tenses expressed in English by either the I have done or the I did forms. It also crops up in spoken German, where it is preferred over the perfect tense for the auxiliary verbs (particularly haben and sein) and the modal verbs (müssen, sollen, mögen, können, dürfen, wollen) and also - in Central and Northern Germany - for some other common verbs.

To listen to my podcast on your computer, click here.

Saturday 24 November 2007

When to Use the Perfect Tense

This podcast is about when to use the perfect tense. The perfect tense is the ich habe es getan tense and corresponds in form to the I have done it tense in English. But the rules on when you use the tense are rather different in German. The German one is often interchangeable with the simple past tense (the ich tat es tense), whereas in English, past tenses are usually not interchangeable with each other.

As a rule of thumb, Germans use the perfect tense to express the past tense in spoken German, except with certain verbs and except in certain situations. The verbs with which the perfect tense is usually not used (apart from for situations for which the perfect tense is the preferred tense) are the auxiliary verbs, modal verbs and, in Central and Northern Germany, also certain other common verbs. These are used in the simple past instead.

If you'd like to listen to this podcast on your computer, you can do so by clicking here.

I've put a list of which verbs aren't generally used in the perfect tense on my geocities site, where I put grammar tables and transcripts of the episodes: The website also includes a table showing the information I've given in my podcasts so far about when to use which tense.

It's always tricky to describe when a tense should be used in a foreign language, and there's a lot of seemingly contradictory information out there. To compile this episode, I mainly used German-language Wikipedia: and

which, slightly disturbingly, both seem to have been rewritten since I used them for information (although a native speaker did recommend the sites at the time I used them, so at least one native speaker did think they were supplying correct information as they were).

I also used the book Hammer's German Grammar and Usage (in my case the second edition). Here's a link to the fourth edition on Amazon: Hammer Grammar, although I recommend any edition of it that you can get your hands on.

I also liked the information in on this topic:

Monday 22 October 2007

Past Tenses: How to Use The Perfect

The perfect tense is one of three German past tense forms. It's also the one that's most commonly used in spoken German, so very useful to learn. The perfect tense is a compound tense. This means it uses two verbs: an auxiliary (or helper) verb and a main verb. Most of the time, the auxiliary verb is haben, which means to have. But for some verbs, especially intransitive verbs of motion and intransitive change-of-state verbs, the auxiliary verb is sein, which means to be. The main verb then shoots along to the end of the clause and appears in the form of a past participle. As a rule of thumb, you create the past participle of a verb from its infinitive by adding a ge- on the beginning, and sometimes you switch the or the on the end for a . Two examples of how you make a perfect tense sentence are:

Ich habe ein Eis gegessen - I have eaten an ice cream
Ich bin in die Schule gegangen - I've gone to school

You can listen to this podcast directly on your computer by clicking here.

While I was researching this podcast, I found a couple of particularly useful websites. Here are the English ones:

A description of when to use the different German past tenses:

A description of how to use the German perfect tense:

Exercises (particularly suitable for beginners) to practise using the perfect tense:

And here are the German ones (two descriptions of when Germans say you should use the perfect tense and when the simple past (also known as the imperfect tense or the preterite)):

Sunday 30 September 2007

The future tense & the verb werden

Hallo all,

It's been longer than I intended yet again, but I've finally managed to finish another episode of German GrammarPod. This episode is about the future tense and also about the verb werden in general.

The future tense is pretty simple in German. Most of the time you can just use the present tense form. But where this would be ambiguous, you add the verb werden (conjugated into one of its present tense forms) in the same way English adds the verb will to make the future tense.

also has another couple of important uses. When used as a main verb instead of an auxiliary verb, then it means to become or a related verb. It also has another use as an auxiliary verb: instead of the future, it can be used to create the passive.

Whether it's being used to form the future or the passive can be seen from the form of the main verb that's used with it. When it's used to mean the future, then the main verb will be in the infinitive. If it's a passive, then the main verb will be in the form of a past participle.

To listen to the podcast directly on your computer, click here.

Sunday 12 August 2007

Your recommendations for German podcasts

Hello blog readers,

A couple of weeks ago, I had a request from Chris in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, asking if I could recommend any good podcasts for learning German in general. I don't listen to any other German podcasts, so I'm no use for giving a recommendation on that. But I thought, if anyone can, my listeners can.

So I promised I'd ask if any of you have a recommendation. If you do, please could you add it as a comment to this blog (along with a quick word about what level of German you're at, so others will know which podcasts are best for their level)? No negative recommendations please, so I don't get angry emails from makers of other podcasts. I'm sure there are some fantastic learn German podcasts out there, and if anyone knows about them, it'll be my listeners. So if you have a spare moment, can you list which ones you like on my blog and why? Also, if they're not in the iTunes podcast directory, can you say where people should find them?

I meant to put this request in my podcast itself, but I've just put another episode of German GrammarPod up on air, and I'm afraid I completely forgot. I will try and remember to put a request in the next one. But until then, if anyone has a recommendation, this is the place :)

The present tense

The present tense is pretty simple in German: there's only one. So where English has to choose between Sarah is walking to work and Sarah walks to work, German has only Sarah geht zu Fuß zur Arbeit. However, whereas English only has two different forms of each verb in the present tense (apart from for the verb to be), e.g. walk and walks, have and has, German verbs have lots of different forms in the present tense (typically four or five), depending on which personal pronoun you're using. (Personal pronouns are words like I, you, we and they.) This podcast explains more about the present tense and the different forms the verbs you use in it take.

To listen to the podcast on you computer, click here.

Sunday 1 July 2007

Cases: The Genitive Case

The genitive case is used to indicate possession, like of or apostrophe-s ('s) does in English. However, apart from in formal, written texts (and in its version of adding 's, which is just to add an s to the end of proper nouns), German tends to avoid the genitive. Most of the time in spoken German, Germans use a von plus the dative instead of a genitive to mean of. The genitive is unusual in German, because as well as affecting determiners (words like the and a) and adjectives, it also affects nouns, adding an -s (or -es) to the end of neuter and masculine nouns.

To listen to my podcast directly on your computer, click here.

Sunday 27 May 2007

Gap between episodes

Hi everyone,

I was planning to do another German Grammarpod this weekend, but my laptop's been stolen, so I'll have to wait till I get a replacement before I can do the next one. Hopefully that will be within two or three weeks. (I'm currently writing on a borrowed laptop, but I can't download the software I need to make the recording onto it.)

Just so everyone knows, it's my plan to do one episode each calendar month. It's easier for me to keep track like that and I seem more or less to be able to write and record them quickly enough to keep up with that time scale.

Sunday 6 May 2007

The Dative Case

The dative case is used for the indirect object (that's the noun or pronoun which is impacted indirectly by the action, as opposed to the one to which the action is done directly). The classic example is he gives me the book (er gibt mir das Buch), where the direct object is the book and the indirect object is me. The dative also follows certain prepostions (words like with, to and between). All determiners (that's words like the and a) change in the dative, although a couple of personal pronouns are the same as in the accusative. The most important ones to remember are ich (I) becomes mir (me) and du (you) becomes dir (you).

To listen to my podcast directly on your computer, click here.

Sunday 18 March 2007

The Accusative Case

The accusative case is used for the direct object (that's the noun or pronoun to which an action is done). It's like the shark in Peter ate the shark where shark is the noun that gets eaten. It also follows certain preopstions (words like for, through and without).

Only singular (i.e. not plural) masculine nouns change in the accusative. All the determiners and adjectives that stand before these always end in -en. The other nouns stay the same as in the nominative.

Some pronouns also change. The most important ones to remember are ich (I) becomes mich (me) and du (you) becomes dich (you). As you can see, that means that not all pronouns change in English to mark the object either.

If you want to listen to this podcast directly on your computer, click here.

Sunday 25 February 2007

Cases: The Nominative Case

This podcast is about cases, which are a way of showing what role the different words are playing in a sentence. German has four cases:
  • Nominative
  • Accusative
  • Dative
  • Gentitive
This podcast describes how cases work in general, then goes on to look at the nominative case in more detail.
To listen to the audio file directly on your computer, click here. Or, if you'd like to subscribe to the podcast, click the link on the top left of this blog.

Sunday 21 January 2007

How to subscribe

It's occurred to me that not everyone who wants to know about German grammar knows what you need to do to download a podcast onto their iPod or any other type of MP3 player, so I thought I'd better make sure the instructions were in my blog. If you happen not to use iTunes, then I'm afraid you'll have to just use these instructions as a rough guide, as I only know how to use iTunes in detail. If anyone knows how to use the other programs, could you add a note to comments to say if it's very different? I can always add more information to the blog.

  • The first thing you have to do is click the link up in the top left-hand corner of this blog that says subscribe to my feed.
  • This will take you to
  • On the right-hand side, simply click Add to iTunes
  • Then open up iTunes in your computer
  • German GrammarPod will appear under Podcasts (you can get to that page by using the menu on the left hand side)
  • Plug your iPod (or other MP3 player) into your computer via a USB port
  • Your iPod/MP3 player will appear in the menu on the left. Drag episodes of German GrammarPod across to your iPod/MP3 player in the menu.

Alternatively, instead of simply clicking Add to iTunes, you can:

  • Copy the web address shown in feedburner (the one on the right, under the Add to iTunes button)
  • Open up iTunes
  • In the menu across the top click Advanced,
  • then Subscribe to Podcast...
  • then add the web address (also known as a URL) to the window that appears
  • then click OK

After that, it's the same as if you'd clicked the Add to iTunes button.

Deleting Podcasts

After I've listened to a podcast, I like to delete it from my iPod. I do that by going into the podcasts part of my iPod in iTunes, using the menu on the left of iTunes. I left click the podcast once, then click the Delete button on my keyboard, to get rid of it from my iPod. If I want it back, I just download it again from my computer, as I've got my iTunes set up to hang onto my podcast downloads unless I decide to get rid of them.

Thursday 11 January 2007

The Gender Podcast

I finally have my first podcast up and running. You wouldn't believe how complicated publishing podcasts is, and I thought the long bit was going to be writing the podcast :) Anyway, I'm all up and running now, so welcome to the first episode. First of all in this episode you get a bit of an introduction to the podcast and who it's aimed at (basically everyone who wants to learn German, but I'm hoping to get some feedback to make sure I'm not overstretching myself a bit there. So if you think the podcast isn't right for your level, but you'd like it to be, add a comment or email me at the email address given at the end of the podcast and tell me about it). Anyhow, after that, we go onto the grammar. This time I'm covering gender:

  • What is gender?

  • How does it work in German?

  • How does that affect me?

  • Tips and tricks for working out what gender a word is

  • What effect does gender have on German?
I've also put some tables, some lists of endings and a transcript of the podcast up on my other German GrammarPod website - you can use the link up on the top left of this blog under LINKS to get to it or just click here. To listen to the podcast, you can either subscribe or click here: MP3 link

Monday 1 January 2007

About the Podcast

The podcast accompanying this blog is aimed at explaining the world of German grammar. Its aim is to be accessible to all levels of learner, but on its own it's not intended to be enough to teach German - in fact very little German is used in the podcast. That's because I figure there are plenty of places you can find content in German, from elsewhere on the web to schools, evening classes and university. What tends to be in shorter supply is a thorough and easily accessible explanation of German grammar.

Grammar itself provides an understanding of a language that takes you from being able to parrot phrases someone else has given you to being able to use the words you've learnt as building blocks to create new sentences. And this podcast will provide you with the grammar you need to do that.