Oh je! How do I translate this tiny word?

“Je”, this tiny word of just two letters can give you lots of different meaning.

Short for jeweils (every, each) or jemals (ever).

  • Hast du je(mals) so ein leckeres Stück Kuchen gegessen? – Have you ever eaten such a nice piece of cake?
  • Das war die schlimmste Zugfahrt, die ich je(mals) gemacht habe. – That was the worst train ride I ever had.
  • Die Kinder bekamen je(weils) ein Eis für ihren Euro. – The children got an ice cream each for their euro.

Je …, je …

Je …, je…
je …, desto …
je …, umso …
the … the …
Je teurer, je besser. – The dearer, the better.
Je mehr ich Deutsch lerne, desto besser wird meine Aussprache. – The more I learn German, the better my pronunciation gets.
Je mehr Hausaufgaben ich bekomme, umso weniger Freizeit habe ich. The more homework I get, the less free time I have.

Instead of ‘pro’

  • Je (pro) Kind gibt es ein Eis. – There is one ice cream per child.
  • Je (pro) Person ein Arbeitsblatt. – One worksheet per person.
  • Ich mache 15 Minuten Yoga je (pro) Tag. – I do 15 minutes of yoga per day.

And in lots of word combinations (many useful to know)

  • je Minute – per minute
  • je nach … – according to …
  • je nach Geschmack – according to taste
  • je nach Wunsch – as one wishes
  • je nach Bedarf – as needed/ according to requirement
  • kaum je – hardly ever
  • mehr denn je – more than ever
  • größer denn je – bigger than ever
  • besser denn je – better than ever
  • je nach Lust und Laune – on a whim
  • wie eh und je – as always
  • je nachdem – according to/ depending on
  • Wir fahren mit dem Zug oder Bus, je nachdem, welcher billiger ist. We’ll travel by train or bus, depending on which is cheaper.

As sayings and idioms

  • Oh je! – Oh dear!
  • Ach je! – Oh dear/ oh man!
  • Seit eh und je! – Since the year dot!
  • So … wie eh und je. – As … as ever.
  • Je oller, je doller (colloquial) – The older they get, the more they want to live it up.

That was easy, right?
Je mehr ihr das Wort benutzt, desto besser geht es. Jetzt könnt ihr das Wort je nach Lust und Laune benutzen. Hab’ ich euch je belogen?
The more you use the word, the better it works. Now you can use the word as much as you like. Have I ever lied to you?

How do you feel about the word ‘je’ now? Can you use it in a sentence?

4 thoughts on “Oh je! How do I translate this tiny word?”

  1. Hi Angelika – interesting article, thanks!! I read this sentence and tried to apply some of your concepts but I still can’t wrap my head around the meaning of “je” in it….could you help me decipher its meaning here?

    Zwar gelangen ihm je ein Passing wie Rushing Touchdown, allerdings auch zwei Interceptions.

    • I haven’t got a clue what a Passing or a Rushing Touchdown is (found out it’s American football), but Jalen Hurts got one each of those. The ‘je’ here is short for jeweils = each. Hope that makes sense.


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