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LEARNING GERMAN

German word of the day: Halt

Today’s word of the day is another one of the big German filler words – or means “grip.”

German word of the day: Halt
Photo: depositphotos

Welcome to another word of the day, which might sound confusing at first, but trust me, it’s not as hard as it may seem. The possibility of hearing a German speaker say halt in any context is very high, so let me start off by giving examples for how it may be used.

First up, you might hear a German speaker scream “Halt!” That simply means “Stop!” and is not what we’re looking at today (but still a useful word to know.)

The second option is Der Halt, as in festhalten. Festhalten means “to hold on”, so Halt in this connection means “grip.” Also good to know, but not what we are looking for today.

So last but not least (and also the way of saying it that we’re going to be looking at) is when halt is used in a sentence, such as: “Das ist halt so.” In this case, halt is an exclamation that gives an emphasis to a request or an advice.

According to the Duden, this halt has its origin in the Mid High German word halt, which means “more” or “rather.” Connected to this, possible translations for halt are “just” or “simply.”

In German, halt is usually used to give more emphasis to what you’re saying. This way, the sentence “Das ist halt so” (“That’s just the way it is”) sounds a bit more drastic than if you just said “Das ist so.” (“That’s the way it is.”)

Halt is quite common to say in the southern parts of Germany, as well as in Austria or Switzerland, although it has made its way to the northern regions of Germany as well. Actually, especially with younger folk, it’s highly possible that you hear them say halt multiple times in a single sentence – it just gives it more expression.

“Das ist halt so,” says this woman, emphasizing that she can't change a situation. It's just the way things are. Photo: depositphotos/studiograndoest.

Examples:

Das geht halt nicht. 

That just doesn’t work.

Ich habe ihr dann halt gesagt, dass sie sich halt melden soll.

So I just told her that she should simply get in touch.

Ich habe halt schlechte Laune.

I am simply in a bad mood.

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Rücksicht

Here's how to take this thoughtful word into consideration.

German word of the day: Rücksicht

Why do I need to know Rücksicht?

Because it’s a commonly used word and knowing what it means – and practising it – will make you a better person.

What does Rücksicht mean?

Rücksicht is a feminine noun which means “consideration” or “regard”. It’s made up of the shortened form of the word zurück meaning “back” and Sicht – which means view. So literally, it means, back view, or looking back.

This literal meaning tells you something about how the word is used in German – if you look back to see what’s happened to your friend, you are taking them into consideration.

If you want to really make sure you don’t forget what Rücksicht means – you can watch the following video of Germany’s 1983 Eurovision song contest entry. The catchy ballad – called “Rücksicht” – came in place 5 of the competition that year. 

How to use Rücksicht

When using Rücksicht, bear in mind that it is usually paired with specific verbs and prepositions.

The most commonly used set phrase is Rücksicht auf etwas/jemand nehmen, which is used to mean “to be considerate of” or “to take care of” someone or something. For example:

Radfahrer müssen auf Fußgänger Rücksicht nehmen.

Cyclists must be considerate of pedestrians.

Er nimmt Rücksicht auf die Bedürfnisse seiner schwangeren Frau.

He takes care of his pregnant wife’s needs.

Rücksicht is usually followed by the preposition auf, but it can be preceded by a number of prepositions to compose different phrases. 

Mit Rücksicht auf for example, means “in view of” and ohne Rücksicht auf means “without consideration for”, while aus Rücksicht auf means “out of consideration for.” 

Here are some examples:

Führungen dürfen aus Rücksicht auf die Teilnehmer nicht aufgenommen werden.
Out of consideration of the participants, tours may not be recorded.
 
Er will tun, was er möchte, ohne Rücksicht auf die Anderen.
He wants to do what he wants, without considering other people.
 
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