Deutsch 101: Additional Advice for Aufsatz 2

Deutsch 101: Additional Advice for Aufsatz 2

Here are a few things that typically come up in the course of grading Aufsatz 2:

Subject-verb agreement; verb in position two “als” (for completed events in the past)
How to say “so” in German sein + Nominative
Position of “auch” in the sentence “to stay”: bleiben vs wohnen

1a. Watch subject-verb agreement!

1b. remember to put the conjugated verb in position two (unless you used a subordinating conjunction like “dass,” “weil,” “wenn,” or “ob”).

It’s a good idea to read your essays (and also e.g. your tests) through quickly once to check all your verbs agree with their subjects, and once more to make sure all your verbs are in the right place.  Then you can proofread it one more time slowly for “everything else.”  This kind of focused proofreading is much more effective than generally trying to find everything at once.

2. [If you use this, cite it with a footnote as follows: “Second Essay Hints, No. 2.”] For completed events in the past, use the subordinating conjunction “als.”  We won’t cover this officially until chapter 10.  Since it is a subordinating conjunction, it send the conjugated verb to the end of the clause.  If you begin a sentence with an “als” phrase, the next phrase begins with the conjugated verb (as if the “als” phrase was position one in the sentence, which is sort of how it is):

Ich hatte nur eine Freundin, als ich klein war.
I only had one (female) friend when I was little.

Als ich klein war, habe ich einen unsichtbaren Freund gehabt
When I was little, I had an invisible (male) friend.

Als wir in Berlin angekommen sind, ist die Mauer gefallen.
When we arrived in Berlin, the wall fell.

3. [If you use “also” as described here, cite it with a footnote as follows: “Second Essay Hints, No. 3.”] The German word for “so” in the sense of “thus, therefore” is “also”:

Alle Hotels waren voll.  Also haben wir im Auto geschlafen.
All the hotels were full.  So we slept in the car.

Wir haben im Auto geschlafen.  Also haben wir viel Geld gespart.
We slept in the car, so we saved a lot of money.

But for “so” in the sense of e.g. “I’m so tired,” German uses “so” like English:

Ich bin so müde.
Deutsch macht so viel Spaß.
Ich habe so viel zu tun.

4. Remember to use the NOMINATIVE case with the verb “sein.”

Ich habe einen Freund [Accusative] ABER Er ist ein Freund [Nominative]
Ich kenne einen Rockstar [Accusative] ABER Er ist ein Rockstar [Nominative]

The reason we’ve chosen masculine examples is that in the neuter, feminine and plural, the nominative and accusative forms are the same anyway, so you wouldn’t see a difference.

5. The position of “auch” is roughly like the position of “nicht”: place “auch” in front of the thing that is “being alsoed” [ugly analogy to ‘being negated,” sorry].  Most of the time it’s wrong to end a sentence with “auch” (i.e. you can’t use it like the English “too”), and it’s usually awkward to begin a sentence with “auch.”

6. “wohnen” = “stay” as in “stay in a hotel,” “stay at a friend’s house.”
“bleiben” = “stay” as in “stay put in one place, not leave,”  e.g. “Please stay!”

“We stayed in Berlin for two months” could be “bleiben” or “wohnen” depending on whether your emphasis is on that being where you lived (wohnen) or just where you were (bleiben).