Last week within two days I was asked about the difference between a “Wand” and a “Mauer”, and a quick google showed me that many German learners struggle with this. Here’s my answer:
If you look in a dictionary you’ll see that both translate as “wall”, but which wall is a Wand and which wall is a Mauer?
Let’s have a look at die Wand:
A Wand (feminine) is mainly indoors and is a part of a building.
- the wall of a building = Hauswand
- the wall of a room = Zimmerwand
- a partition = Trennwand
- the side of a ship or container, or the side panel of a shower or item of furniture = Seitenwand.
- A Wandschrank (masculine) is a wardrobe or cupboard which is designed to be attached to a wall, a wall cabinet.
Looking at the whole words, these terms make a lot of sense, Zimmerwand is the wall (Zimmer) of a room (Wand), but most times we don’t bother with the first part and just call it Wand. Fort example, if I stand in a room and like a painting on the wall I wouldn’t bother saying ‘ich mag das Bild an der Zimmerwand’ because it’s pretty obvious that I mean the wall of the room.
But for German learners who just come across Wand or Mauer it does make it a bit harder.
A few idioms:
- gegen eine Wand anrennen = hitting one’s head against a brick wall
- gegen eine Wand reden = talk to a brick wall
- weiß wie eine Wand = white as a sheet
- jemanden an die Wand spielen = to upstage / outplay somebody
- Mal den Teufel nicht an die Wand! = Speak of the devil…
Now let’s look at die Mauer:
A Mauer is a structure made of stones, bricks etc, but it doesn’t enclose anything like a house or room.
- Die Chinesische Mauer – the Great Wall of China
- die Berliner Mauer – the Berlin Wall
- eine Mauer = a defensive wall (in football during a free kick)
- eine Mauer = an obstacle in equestrian jumping competition
Das Mauerblümchen = wall flower
Die Mauerbiene = mason bee
Der Mauerbrecher = battering ram
Eine Mauer aus Vorurteilen = wall of prejudice
Now for a little confusion ☺
A firewall is a Brandwand … or a Brandmauer!
An English wand is a Zauberstab in German, and a German Wall is a bank or ridge.
And, before you go, a little lighthearted fun with two videos. The first one is about a very famous “Wand”. The second one is a German nursery song about a bug on a wall. Enjoy ☺
But before you watch the videos, a question (answer below the videos)