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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

German word of the day: Hinkriegen

Faced with a huge pile of work? Struggling to find a new apartment? Preparing for that all important football match? Today’s word of the day could give you the motivation you need.

German word of the day: Hinkriegen
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

You may well be familiar with three very famous words spoken by German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Wir schaffen das (we can do this).

There is, however, a more colloquial verb with the same meaning. While schaffen may be more fitting for a press conference or business meeting, hinkriegen can be used if you want to spur on friends and loved ones. 

Hinkriegen, which translates as ‘to manage’, refers to someone using their know-how or general competence to overcome a hurdle or achieve something. 

READ ALSO: The complete A-Z guide to German prefixes and what they mean

The term is made up of kriegen, a colloquial verb meaning ‘to get’, and hin, an adverb generally connoting movement toward another location. An English equivalent would be ‘to get there’, which also has the same meaning as hinkriegen (ie. ‘to manage’). 

Don’t be surprised if you hear it at the doctor’s office or the car repair shop, too. It can also take on the meaning of fixing something that has gone wrong, especially when used in the context of healing or repairing.

Regardless of where you decide to use it, try to incorporate this versatile verb into your German vocabulary!

Example sentences: 

Nur Mut! Du kriegst das schon hin! 

Don’t lose heart! You’ll get there soon!

Er hat sich das Bein gebrochen. Aber das kriegen wir schon wieder hin!

He’s broken his leg. But we can fix that up in no time!

 

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German phrase of the day: keine Ahnung

Asked a question and haven't a clue how to respond? Then use this phrase.

German phrase of the day: keine Ahnung

Why do I need to know keine Ahnung?

This widely-used phrase is the German equivalent of the English “no idea” so it’s a great expression to know in these very confusing times. The full expression is: Ich habe keine Ahnung! (I have no idea).

Where does it come from?

The feminine noun Ahnung comes from the verb ahnen, which means “to foresee” or “to guess” which can have a slightly sinister connotation and is often used to express an indistinct, dark sense of foreboding.

Put together with the pronoun keine, however, the noun Ahnung takes on a much more flippant meaning and is commonly used as a response to a question to convey complete cluelessness.

The term keine Ahnung is also part of a popular German saying which comes from the middle ages: von Tuten und Blasen keine Ahnung haben which literally translates as “to have no idea about tooting and blowing”.

The phrase has its origins in the fact that the work that was least respected in medieval cities was that of the night watchmen, who carried a horn as a warning. 

From the point of view of the townspeople, their only competence was to stay up at night, walk around and blow the horn in case of danger. If someone was not able to do even this, then they were good for nothing. 

How to use it:

Weißt du, wann er zurückkommt?
Keine Ahnung!

Do you know when he’s coming back?
No idea!

Ich habe keine Ahnung was das bedeutet.

I have no idea what that means.

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