Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript


Widar: Hey, everyone, welcome back to Basic Bootcamp. Today it's Basic Bootcamp #2. And I'm Widar.
Rebecca: Hallo. I'm Rebecca. This five-part series will help you ease your way into German.
Widar: We'll go over all the basics that will really help you understand German in a quick and easy way.
Rebecca: In today's lesson, you'll learn how to talk about nationality.
Widar: And, of course, we introduce you to some important grammar basics. In this lesson, you will learn how to use the all important copula verb "sein" ("to be"), which will help you make simple sentences. It is pretty much the equivalent of "to be" in English. So, it's going to be very easy to relate to.
Rebecca: Right. We'll also go over one of the essential building blocks of learning German—word order.
Widar: So, Rebecca, no matter whether you're in a language class or a new country or even in your own city, the world is so small nowadays, you can always find someone from somewhere else. So we're going to demonstrate the verb "to be" in talking about nationalities today.
Rebecca: Exactly. Listen to these German students talk about where they are from, and while you're listening, try to guess their nationalities.
Widar: Yes. Let's listen to the conversation.
A: Hallo, ich heiße Widar. Ich bin Deutscher.
B: Hallo, ich heiße Rebecca. Ich bin Amerikanerin.
Widar: Noch einmal was langsamer.
Rebecca: One more time, a little slower.
A: Hallo, ich heiße Widar. Ich bin Deutscher.
B: Hallo, ich heiße Rebecca. Ich bin Amerikanerin.
Widar: Noch einmal mit Englisch.
Rebecca: One more time, with English.
A: Hallo, ich heiße Widar. Ich bin Deutscher.
Rebecca: Hello, I'm Widar. I'm German.
B: Hallo, ich heiße Rebecca. Ich bin Amerikanerin.
Rebecca: Hello, I'm Rebecca. I'm American.
Post Conversation Banter
Rebecca: One thing that I think is interesting is that when you study German, you're bound to meet people who come from countries all over the world who are studying it too.
Widar: Yeah, it's really amazing! There are so many people from all over the world who study German.
Rebecca: So that's where being able to talk about where you come from comes in handy.
Widar: That's right, not only for introducing yourself to German people, but also to your fellow learners!
Rebecca: Another thing that's interesting is finding out all of the reasons that people are learning German.
Widar: What are some of the reasons?
Rebecca: I think that when people look at Germany, they see a country in central Europe with open-minded people, interesting pop culture, and a broad variety of scenes - say punk, alternative, skateboarders, and so on. Well, and Germany's history, its highs and tragic lows, make people become interested in German culture, too, and they decide to start studying the language.
Widar: I also think some people study it because of more traditional culture too, such as German composers, poets, and other famous artists.
Rebecca: Yeah, lots of people study German culture and literature abroad. Everybody has heard of Mozart, Bach, and Thomas Mann.
Widar: How about you, Rebecca? What was your reason for studying German?
Rebecca: Well, that's a tricky question. I guess it was the beer. It's important to know how to order a beer in German!
Widar: Really???
Rebecca: Well, just kidding here, but beer in Germany is really tasty. And German beer culture is huge, and I'm not necessarily talking about the Bavarian Beer Fest here.
Widar: Yeah, I know. It's a huge annual happening in Munich.
Rebecca: To be honest, German culture is so rich, even if its people seem to be a bit formal in the beginning, you'll get rewarded after a while. They are friendly and open-minded. Hang out a few nights in central Berlin and you’ll know what I'm talking about.
Widar: Oh yes, I know. The folks are fun there.
Rebecca: And it's the landscape—beautiful coasts in the northern part, famous rivers and wineries in the middle of the country, and mountains in the east and south.
Widar: Yeah, that's true. And don't forget about the old cities; some churches and buildings have a history dating back more than 1,000 years.
Rebecca: That's right. Okay, now let's get back on track. Let's check out the vocab.
Vocabulary and Phrases
Widar: Hallo, ich heiße Widar. Ich bin Deutscher. [natural native speed]
Widar: Hello, I'm Widar. I'm German.
Widar: Hallo, ich heiße Widar. Ich bin Deutscher. [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Widar: Hallo, ich heiße Widar. Ich bin Deutscher. [natural native speed]
Rebecca: Hallo, ich heiße Rebecca. Ich bin Amerikanerin. [natural native speed]
Rebecca: Hello, I'm Rebecca. I'm American.
Rebecca: Hallo, ich heiße Rebecca. Ich bin Amerikanerin. [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Rebecca: Hallo, ich heiße Rebecca. Ich bin Amerikanerin. [natural native speed]
Vocabulary and Phrase Usage
Widar: Great, let's have a closer look at these phrases.
Rebecca: Let's take a look at this lesson's dialogue, line by line. First, we have…
Widar: "Hallo."
Rebecca: Meaning "Hello." We learned the greeting "Hallo" in Bootcamp #1, along with…
Widar: "Ich heiße Widar." ("I'm Widar.")
Rebecca: Right, as we learned in Bootcamp #1, you can say your name using "Ich heiße" such and such. Then next, we have…
Widar: "Ich bin Deutsche." Literally, this means "I am German" or "I'm German."
Rebecca: We'll explain this grammar in the grammar section later. Here, let's learn how to form nationality. How do you say "German person?"
Widar: That depends on the gender. If it's a female person, we'd say "Deutsche." And in the case of a male person, it's "Deutscher."
Rebecca: Let's take these words and break them down a bit.
Widar: Sure.
Rebecca: Let's start with the female version. Can you say it again for us?
Widar: "Deutsche."
Rebecca: "German." It's ending on the "-e." How about the male version?
Widar: "Deutscher."
Rebecca: "German." So, the difference is the ending. The suffix "-er" for male, "-e" for female. But what about the name of the country? Can you simply add an "-e" or "-er" to the name of a country, and that would mean…a person from that country?
Widar: Unfortunately not. Germany is called "Deutschland"; "-land" means "country" in English.
Rebecca: I see. So "Deutschland" literally means "German-country."
Widar: Absolutely.
Rebecca: So, can we hear it one more time?
Widar: "Deutsche" (female), "Deutscher" (male), "Deutschland" (Germany).
So in the next line, Widar said…
Rebecca and Rebecca: "Hallo, ich heiße Widar." ("Hello, I'm Widar.")
Widar: And Widar said, "Ich bin Amerikaner." ("I'm American.")
Rebecca: Can you say "American" again?
Widar: Sure. "Amerikaner."
Rebecca: "Amerika" means "America," the country. "Amerikaner" means "American," the person. Here we add "-ner" for a male American, and what do we do if you want to express that you, Rebecca, are American?
Widar: Then it's "Amerikanerin." [A-me-ri-ka-ne-rin.]
Rebecca: So in the case of a female person, we add "-ner+in" to the name of the country. Why don't we say "Amerikaer," leaving out the "-n"?
Widar: Because in German, it's not common to add another vowel to a noun that ends with a vowel, like "Amerika." Instead we put an "-n" between the "-a" of Amerika and the suffix "-er" or "-erin."
Rebecca: So, then we have "Amerikaner," "Amerikanerin." Let's sum this up here. The word for nationality will change according to the gender.
Widar: Right.
Rebecca: But in many cases, we say the name of the country and attach the ending?
Widar: That's almost true. This works fine for Italy and an Italian person. "Italy" is "Italien" in German, and an Italian is "Italiener" (male) or "Italienerin" (female).
Rebecca: Yes, here we have the classic rule; country + suffix "-er" or suffix "-erin." How about Canada/Canadian?
Widar: "Kanadier" (male) and "Kanadierin" (female).
Rebecca: Okay, here we crossed out the "-a" in Kanada, and replaced it with the suffix "-ier" (male) and "-ierin" (female). These are minor changes…but are there any huge exceptions?
Widar: Yes. Look at France and a French person. In German, "France" is "Frankreich" and the French person is "Franzose" (male) or "Französin" (female).
Rebecca: Yeah, you have to memorize it to remember it, right?
Widar: Yes. But don't worry, in many cases, adding the suffix "-er" or "-erin" and putting an "-n" in between or replacing the last letter of the country before adding the suffix will do it.
Rebecca: So, "Cuba" will be "Kuba" (country), and "Cuban" is "Kubaner" or "Kubanerin"?
Widar: Perfect! Same goes for "Austria," which in German is "Österreich," and "Austrian," which is "Österreicher" or "Österreicherin."
Rebecca: Just adding the male or female suffix to the country name…. Okay, let's practice one more time.
Widar: Yeah. Let's try Latin America. "Mexico" in German is "Mexiko" and "Mexican" is either "Mexikaner" (male) or "Mexikanerin" (female).
Rebecca: Replacing the "-o" from Mexico and then adding "-n" and the suffix "-er" or "-erin".
Widar: See, you got it!

Lesson focus

Rebecca: Let's take a look at word order. In the dialogue, we had…
Widar: "Ich heiße Widar."
Rebecca: "I'm Widar." The sentence Ich heiße Widar gives us some insight into basic German word order in sentences. It is said that the sentence order in German is subject-verb-object, SVO. English has the same basic word order, SVO.
Widar: Yes, this is true for independent clauses like in the given example. It's very different when talking about dependent clauses.
Rebecca: That's true. So, for independent clauses it's important to remember that the subject is at the beginning of the sentence, followed by the verb or copula in the middle, and last but not least, the object at the end of the sentence.
Widar: So first, the subject here is "ich" ("I"). And after that we have "heiße," which is the conjugated form (first singular person, present tense) of the verb "heißen" ("to be called").
Rebecca: We went over this a little bit last time. Finally, we have the object, "Widar."
Widar: Right. Now, let's try to test the word order with the other sentence from the dialogue.
Rebecca: You mean the sentence with the copula verb "to be?"
Widar: Yes. "To be" in German, is "sein." ["Sein" (slowly)]. We heard it in the dialogue. When the students introduced themselves, they said, "Ich bin Deutsche" ("I'm German"), and "Ich bin Amerikaner" ("I'm American").
Rebecca: The word order is subject "ich" ("I"), copula verb "bin" ("am"), and object "Deutsche" ("German") or "Amerikaner" ("American").
Widar: Yes. It's the same word order, SVO.
Rebecca: Great. Now, I would like to know more about the copula "sein" ("to be"). We've already tried the first singular person in the dialogue. "Ich bin Deutsche" and "Ich bin Amerikaner."
Widar: Yes! Now let's have a look at the first plural person, which is "Wir sind Deutsche," or "Wir sind Amerikaner."
Rebecca: "We're German." "We're American." That's easy. First singular person, "ich bin" ("I am"); first plural person, "wird sind" ("we are").
Widar: Please note that the personal pronoun and the copula change. That's because German copula DO conjugate.
Rebecca: What about conjugating the second and third persons?
Widar: Okay. Second singular person, "Du bist Amerikaner." And second plural person, "Ihr seid Amerikaner."
Rebecca: Both should be "You're American."
Widar: Right. In contrast to German conjugation, in English we don't distinguish between the second singular and plural person for the copula "to be." And now let's try the third singular person for Germans, "Er ist Deutscher." "Sie ist Deutsche."
Rebecca: That's "He is German" and "She is German." How about the third plural person, "They're German?"
Widar: "Sie sind Deutsche."


Rebecca: Okay. That's a wrap.
Widar: We hope that this lesson has helped you get a grasp on basic German sentence structure!
Rebecca: Stick with us as we get into more of the basics in this Basic Bootcamp Series.
Widar: Ok. Some of our listeners already know about the most powerful tool on GermanPod101.com
Rebecca: line-by-line audio.
Widar: The perfect tool for rapidly improving listening comprehension...
Rebecca: by listening to lines of the conversation again and again.
Widar: Listen until every word and syllable becomes clear. Basically, we breakdown the dialog into comprehensible, bite-size sentences.
Rebecca: You can try the line-by-line audio in the Premium Learning Center at GermanPod101.com
Widar: See you next time! Thanks for listening! Bye!
Rebecca: "Bis bald." ("See you!")