9 cool german grammar lessons learned from listening to chima

9 Cool German Grammar Lessons Learned from Listening to Chima

It’s pretty much impossible to go one day without hearing music.

It’s everywhere: playing in shops, blasting out as someone’s ringtone or booming from a tricked-out car.

It gets us psyched for adrenaline-filled action scenes in movies, and it melts our hearts as our favorite television characters confess their undying love for one another.

But what if you could use music to help you learn German?

Listening to music is great for your language skills: it helps with pronunciation, vocab, idioms and overall fluency.

You know how you’ve had the chorus of “Let it Go” stuck in your head for weeks?

Now imagine you’d had the German version in your head all that time. You’d be totally prepared next time your German teacher brings up that one time you forgot to hand in your homework: “lass es los, lass jetzt los…”

By the way, FluentU has a great video of “lass es los” – find it here.

But it’s not just vocab that you can learn from listening to German music. Read on to learn more about the many benefits of listening to German music.
 

 
Learn a foreign language with videos

9 Cool German Grammar Lessons Learned from Listening to Chima

Every German song has a whole load of grammar built in – grammar lessons are always just waiting to be learned!

Grammar can seem pretty dry at times: a whole load of rules and concepts to be learned when really all you want is to be out there speaking the language. But it’s important. And it certainly doesn’t have to be boring.

We’ve taken a look at the lyrics to Chima’s “Ausflug ins Blaue” and come up with some grammar lessons you won’t likely forget any time soon. Not if you learn the words to the song, anyway.

Nigerian-born Chimaobinna Enyiakanwanne Onyele (known to most people simply as Chima) is a singer from Frankfurt. He became well known in Germany in 2012 with his hit single “Morgen,” and his song “Ausflug ins Blaue” is a great one for belting out at the top of your voice and annoying your little brother. It’s also a great one to put on your getting-ready-to-go-out playlist (you know you have one), and it has a fabulous video to boot.

Check it out!

And here are the lyrics, so you can start singing along already.

If you want to view the lyrics while watching this video, “Ausflug Ins Blaue” is available on FluentU. FluentU provides interactive subtitles in German and in English (which can be toggled on and off at will), so you’ll be singing along in German faster than ever.  

With FluentU, you can practice key vocabulary and grammar in the Ausflug Ins Blaue” video before or after watching by checking out learn mode. You’ll even get to review your newly-learned language with vocab lists and multimedia flashcards!

FluentU is bound to make your Chima experience that much more educational.

Now, let’s get into the grammar.

Here are 9 fascinating things you can learn from “Ausflug ins Blaue.” Some are, admittedly, more useful than others, but all of them are interesting. And that’s just from one song. Imagine how much you could learn from a whole album!

9 Cool German Grammar Lessons Learned from Listening to Chima

1. You go nach cities, but zu planets

Keep this in mind in case you end up planning a trip to Saturn any time soon:

Wie mit der Concorde

Von Paris nach New York

Mit dem Raumschiff

Von hier bis zum Mars

Knowing which preposition to use is a challenge in any language, but one of the best ways of getting it to stick is by learning examples. The first four lines of “Ausflug ins Blaue” contain a great little lesson on just that: you travel nach New York, but zum Mars (to New York, to Mars). This rule can be extended to other cities:

  • ich fahre nach Berlin (I’m going to Berlin)
  • Billigflieger nach Moskau (cheap flights to Moscow)
  • Busreise nach Budapest (coach trip to Budapest)

And likewise, the zum Mars rule extends to other planets, too:

  • ein Flug zur Venus (a flight to Venus)
  • Weltraum-Forscher planen bemannte Reise zum Jupiter (space researchers plan manned mission to Jupiter)

2. Most planets are masculine

With the exception of die Erde and die Venus, all the planets are masculine.

Good to know, right?

So that means der Merkur, der Mars, der Jupiter, der Saturn, der Uranus and der Neptun. But die Erde and die Venus. Venus totally makes sense to be feminine: she was a Roman goddess of love and beauty, after all. And the Earth is weird anyway.

3. Contractions don’t always have to be painful

Want a good tip about how to sound properly German? Never say zu dem” or in das” or in dem.” These words work like “don’t” and “can’t” in English: they contract to make a single word. However, the Germans use their contractions even more than we do.

Here’s a useful list of the most common German contractions:

an + das = ans

an + dem = am

auf + das = aufs

bei + dem = beim

in + das = ins

in + dem = im

von + dem = vom

zu + dem = zum

zu + der = zur

In “Ausflug ins Blaue” these contractions turn up several times. Take the title, for example: that “ins” is a contraction of “in das.” Then we have “zum Mars” (from zu dem) and “nur ein bisschen Wind im Rücken” (from in dem).

4. Verb placement

Germans are kind of picky about where you put your verbs. There are various different rules that you have to learn, and although eventually it comes naturally, it can be hard at first. The key is exposure: listen to German, read German, write in German and be strict with yourself about sticking to the rules.

The two most important rules of German verb order are listed as #5 and #6 on this list.

5. The verb is always the 2nd idea in the clause

Some people say it should be the second word, but that’s simply not true.

Take the sentence I just wrote: “some people say it should be the second word.” The first idea in that sentence is “some people.” Then comes the verb.

It’s the same in German: manche Leute sagen… So far so good. But in German this applies even when the first idea isn’t the people doing the verb. So if you wanted to say “on the weekend I learn German,” you’d have to move the verb to the second place: “am Wochenende lerne ich Deutsch.”

Of course, I say “always,” but I’m exaggerating a little there. Really that rule should read ‘The verb is always the 2nd idea in the clause unless rule #2 applies’.

6. Some words send the verb to the end of the sentence

They get sent to the end of the sentence, much the way the dunce gets sent to the back of the classroom.

Coordinating conjunctions (words like because, although, since) send the verb to the end of the sentence, and you have to ignore rule #1. For example: “I speak German” – ich spreche Deutsch, but “because I speak German” – weil ich Deutsch spreche.

There are only a limited number of words that do this, so it’s quite easy once you learn them. Here’s a list of the worst culprits:

als – when (talking about the past)

bevor – before

bis – until

da – since, as

damit – so that

dass – that

falls – in case

indem – while, by doing

nachdem – after

ob – whether

obgleich / obschon / obwohl – although

seit / seitdem – since (time)

sobald – as soon as

sodass / so dass – so that, in order that

solang(e) – as long as

trotzdem – regardless, all the same

während – while, during

weil – because

wenn – if, whenever

Don’t worry – it may take a while to get used to, but listening to German songs is one way to help yourself. For example, Ausflug ins Blaue” has some good examples of the verb taking the second place in the sentence. Take a look: 

Für dich gibt es keine Beschreibung

Mit dir brauch’ ich kein Gepäck

Jede Reise hat ein Ende

Irgendwann ist man daheim

Dann bleiben nur die Bilder

7. Using hin & her correctly makes you sound really German

Hin and her are little grammatical particles which tell you where things are. Hin tells you that movement is happening away from the speaker; her tells you movement is happening towards them.

So, the line Keine Ahnung wo die Reise hin geht’ in Ausflug ins Blaue” means something along the lines of “I have no idea where we’ll end up” (literally “no idea where the journey is going to”). In this sentence the hin emphasizes that the movement is towards a destination different than the current location (even though the speaker doesn’t know where exactly).

Two other useful hin/her phrases are:

Schau mal hin!Look (over there)!

Komm mal her! – Come over here (from there)!

8. Auf etw. sein is a great construction

In “Ausflug ins Blaue” the phrase Doch ich würde gern auf Reisen sein” means “but I would like to be traveling,” or “but I would like to be on the road,” and is created using the construction auf etw. sein. And there are loads of great phrases that use this construction:

auf Draht seinto be on one’s toes

auf Ehemannsuche sein – to be husband-hunting

auf Dienstreise seinto be on a business trip

auf 180 sein – to be in a rage

auf Arbeitssuche sein – to be looking for work

auf Erfolgskurs sein – to be tipped for success

9. Learn phrases to help you remember adjectival endings

Every German student knows that adjectival endings are a nightmare. But it’s not all about tables and rules. One of the easiest ways to learn your adjectival endings is to learn phrases that contain them. And what better way to learn something by rote than through song?!

Learn these lines from “Ausflug ins Blaue” and you’ll have a couple of variations down already — not to mention, you’ll keep yourself in good humor! With a few more songs under your belt, they’ll all start to come more naturally.

Wie ein blinder Passagier fahren (masculine, nominative)

In der transsibirischen Eisenbahn (feminine, dative)

 

Originally from the UK, Natasha Douglas is a Berlin-based writer and photographer. She has been learning German for over a decade, and is an experienced language tutor. When she gets round to it, she writes a blog about her travels and experiences. 

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