Three German words that can make strange translations

As German learners start to learn more and more vocabulary, they learn that ‘questions’ are ‘Fragen’ and the verb ‘to ask’ is ‘fragen’. So when they want to say ‘asking questions’ they say ‘Fragen fragen’.

That’s not how we say it in German (although if you said it, people would understand you).

Asking questions in German is ‘Fragen stellen’ (literally to put questions).

The next two words that confuse German learners in the beginning are ‘morgen’, as in ‘tomorrow’, and ‘morgen’ as in ‘morning’. So they translate ‘tomorrow morning’ as ‘morgen morgen’.

However, tomorrow morning in German is morgen früh (literally tomorrow early).

And the last two words are ‘das Essen’ as in ‘the meal’ and ‘essen’ as in ‘to eat’. And again, if we want to talk about eating the meal, ‘das Essen essen’ sounds a bit repetitive. Although in spoken German people do, but if you’re writing about it and don’t want to use two words the same, use ‘eine Mahlzeit essen‘. Or, if that sounds too posh to you, name the meal, e.g. eine Pizza essen, Pommes essen etc…

Here we have those three words again in a quick video:

Or if you wish, you can read the slides:

2 thoughts on “Three German words that can make strange translations”

  1. That makes sense, it’s not wrong to use the words together but to make it easier in the listener there is another way. In writing you out would know ‘fragen Fragen’ was asking questions because of the capital letter, but in conversation there would not be that distinction.

    • You are right, it’s not wrong but sounds clumsy. Germans wouldn’t say those combinations but would understand if you did. And yes, in written German it would be easier to differenciate because of the use of capital letters.


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