Superwörter III

Superwörter III


1. As a subordinating conjunction, da means since in the sense of because. In this sense, da and weil are interchangeable, but weil is somewhat more common.

Da Michigan sehr kalt ist, gibt es dort keine Palmen.
Since Michigan is very cold, there are no palm trees there.

Ich habe eine Glatze, da ich zuviel Vitamin A genommen habe.
I am bald ,because I took too much Vitamin A.

2a. As an adverb, da usually means there :

Da ist Elvis!
There‘s Elvis!

Das Bermuda-Dreieck ist mysteriös, weil da so viele Schiffe verschwunden sind.
The Bermuda triangle is mysterious because so many ships have disappeared there.

Note: Use da ist/da sind in the sense of “there is/are” only if you are pointing out that some object(s) is/are located “there”; for the more general use of “there is/are” to describe what exists abstractly or in some concrete place, use es gibt.  If in doubt, use es gibt:

Es gibt (Da sind) viele Elvisprodukte in Graceland.
There are many Elvis products in Graceland

Tu oder tu nicht. Es gibt(Da ist) kein “versuchen”. [Yoda]
Do or do not. There is no try.

2a. As an adverb, da can also mean at that time, or simply then. Da used in this sense often implies surprise or emotion. In archaic usage, the subordinating conjunction da can also be used to mean when, as in the first example below (where the verb is not at the end for “poetic” reasons).

Da Jesus geboren war zu Bethlehem…, …da kamen die Weisen vom Morgenlande….
When Jesus was born at Bethlehem, (then) the Wise Men came from the Orient….

Da explodierte der Stern plötzlich.
Then the star suddenly exploded.


Most of what follows is obvious and does not even require examples, but a few things may be new to you; in general, be aware of the wide variety of possible meanings for this perky little word….

1. Zu can mean to with reference to location.

2. Zu can be an infinitive to, in the many senses we have seen already.

3. Zucan mean too as in “too much.”

4. Zu can mean closed, as in “Die Tür ist zu.”

5. Occasionally, zu can indicate a quantity, especially in conjunction with percentages and fractions:

Ein Atom besteht zu 99,999…% aus leerem Raum.
99,999…% of an atom consists of empty space.

Wir sind zu dritt.
There are three of us.

6. Zu can indicate a ratio or other numerical relationship:

Wir mischen SPAM und Schinken im Verhältnis zwei zu eins.
We mix SPAM and ham in a 2 to 1 ratio.

7. Zu can sometimes indicate the result of a process:

Die Mumie zerfällt zu Staub. (but “Das Radium zerfällt in Radon und Helium”)
The mummy falls apart into dust.

8. Zu can mean with in the sense of a supplement or a complementing addition:

Zu SPAM trinkt man Rotwein. One drinks red wine with SPAM.

9. Occasionally, zu means at with reference to location. Zu Hause is the most common example; otherwise, this use of zu is not overly common.

10. Occasionally, it indicates a mode of transportation. Zu Fuß and zu Pferd are the most common examples.


1. Noch can mean until this point in time or still, as in the following common expressions:

noch nicht not yet
noch nie never (yet) (i.e. not until now)
noch immer, immer noch, noch still (immer adds emphasis)

Weißt du noch
Do you still remember…

2. Noch can often be translated as even or still in the sense of more (and only in that sense!):

noch größer, noch schneller, noch besser
even/still bigger, faster, better

Was noch? What else?
noch ein another

3. Weder … noch means neither … nor:

Der Mond ist weder grün noch käsig.
The moon is neither green nor cheesy.

Noch is a particularly flexible word, and as these examples indicate, you should approach its translation with equal flexibility!


1a. Gelten by itself usually means to be valid

Das Grundrecht auf Asyl gilt nicht mehr
The fundamental right to political asylum is no longer valid.

Das gilt nicht!
That’s not allowed! [not a valid application/interpretation of the rules] (you’ll often hear kids yelling this during a game)

Das Urheberrecht gilt auch, wenn das Video auf Privat gestellt wird.
The copyright law still applies, if the video is set to “private.”

Note the useful related adjective gültig, which means “valid”:

Diese Emailadresse ist ungültig.
This email address is not valid.

1b. Used with the dative, gelten means to be aimed at  someone/something:

Der Anschlag galt dem Präsidenten.
The (terrorist) attack was aimed at the President.

2. Gelten als (or very rarely gelten für) means to be considered:

Der Planet Saturn galt als der Schutzgott Israels.
The planet Saturn was considered the protector deity of Israel.

Rauchen gilt als gefährlich.
Smoking is considered dangerous.

3. Gelten für usually means to apply to, to be valid for:

Dasselbe gilt auch für die Möglichkeit, die schon Origenes vermutet hat: der Stern von Bethlehem sei ein Komet gewesen.
The same also applies to the possibility that Origen had already considered: that the Star of Bethlehem was a comet.

Für sehr schnelle Körper gilt die klassische Mechanik nicht mehr.
Classical mechanics is no longer valid for very fast objects.


1. The dative verb gelingen means to succeed; its forms are gelingen, gelang, ist gelungen. Note: this verb can only have an impersonal subject ==> never say “Ich gelinge.” for “I succeed,” but rather, proceed as in the examples below:

…dennoch ist es nur einer einzigen von diesen Arten gelungen, Intelligenz hervorzubringen.
…and yet only a single one of these species succeeded in generating intelligence.

Es ist uns gelungen, einen Mann auf den Mond zu bringen. [Not: Wir sind gelungen, …]
We have succeeded in getting a man to the moon.

Der Kuchen ist mir gelungen.
The cake came out well (literally: I succeeded with the cake).

Es gelingt mir, Madonna zu vergessen.
I succeed in forgetting Madonna.

2. The verb gelangen means to reach, to arrive, to get to. Its forms are gelangen, gelangte, ist gelangt.

So können Substanzen aus dem Blut der Mutter in das des Babys gelangen.
In this manner substances from the blood of the mother can reach that of the baby.

Wie gelangte Einstein zu dieser Theorie?
How did Einstein arrive at this theory?