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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Anja here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common German questions.
The question for this lesson is: What is schon in German and how do I use it?
Schon literally means “yet” or “already,” such as, Hast du schon gegessen? meaning “Have you eaten yet?” or Es ist schon spät, “It's already late.” It's a really common German expression. Idiomatically, it’s often used to make a statement friendlier or to add emphasis.
Let’s do some examples so you can learn how to use schon correctly.
A sample sentence would be Es ist schon ok, which simply means, “It’s okay,” like you would say if you were forgiving someone who has offended you. It would be possible to use the sentence, Es ist ok, but this might seem a bit short and distant. You can think of it as saying “It's okay, it has already been forgiven and forgotten.”
Another example is Schon gut which literally translates to “Already good,” “It’s okay,” or “Apology accepted.” This can be used as a response to someone apologizing for a minor mistake. For example, Schon gut, mach dir keine Sorgen, which means, “It’s okay, don’t worry.” If you’re still upset about the situation, you can use the more curt, Schon gut, which implies, “Okay, let’s not talk about it anymore and move on.”
You can also use this phrase, Schon besser, which literally means, “Already better.” You may hear this, for example, if you receive feedback on something like a project or a report, make changes, and then present your changes to your teacher or boss. In this case, they might say, Schon besser.
This can come across in different ways depending on how it's said. A slow, curt Schon besser, emphasizing the schon can come across as, “Better but not good enough.” but a friendly Oh, das ist schon viel besser, sounds much more uplifting and positive, and can translate as, “Oh, this is already much better.”
If you want to step up your German game a little with your friends you can use the phrase, Die Sache ist schon gegessen, which literally means “The thing has already been eaten.” It's an idiom that actually means a negative incident has already been forgotten. Try using it the next time one of your German friends apologizes for something!
One last insider hint is be careful not to confuse schon with schön with an umlaut over the “o.” That means, “beautiful!”
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!
Tschüss, bis zum nächsten Mal! “Bye, see you next time!”