German word of the day: Der Pendler

What’s behind the word that describes over half of the German workforce?

German word of the day: Der Pendler

Der Pendler or die Pendlerin is the German word for commuter and describes someone who leaves the boundary of their local area to travel to work, usually on a daily basis.

The noun Pendler comes from the verb pendeln which means to commute, as well as to oscillate or to swing between.

The origin of the word goes back to the Latin verb pendere, meaning to hang down or to suspend, which was later adapted to describe the swinging weight of a pendulum in the mid-17th century.

The word’s Latin roots perhaps account for the fact that several other European languages share a very similar word for commuter, such as Norwegian (pendler) Italian (pendolare), Swedish (pendlare), and Dutch (pendelaar).

A man with a briefcase walks past an ICE train.

A man with a briefcase walks past an ICE train. Photo: picture alliance / Sebastian Gollnow/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Pendler in Germany

Around 60 percent of German employees are Pendler (also the plural form) and have their place of work in a different federal state than their place of residence. Major cities like Munich, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg and Berlin attract the most commuters.

Die Pendlerpauschale (commuter allowance) is often spoken about to refer to the commuter travel allowance which is routed in German tax law.  

The pro-kilometre allowance means that employees who have a commute to their regular place of work can partially deduct the kilometres for this from their taxes.

In March, the traffic-light coalition government announced an increase to the Pendlerpauschale to 30 cents per kilometre for the first 20km and 35 from the 21st kilometre onwards.


Mein Kollege ist Pendler und verbringt jeden Tag über drei Stunden in der Bahn.

My colleague is a commuter and spends over three hours on the train every day.

Durch die vielen Pendler ist die Verbindung oft überlastet.

Due to the many commuters, the connection is often overloaded.

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German word of the day: Isso

Perhaps you've seen this word on social media and you're not sure what it means. Let us explain...

German word of the day: Isso

Why do I need to know isso?

Because it’s a nice colloquial expression to use if you’re feeling a little lazy since it combines a few words. It was also one of Germany’s favourite youth words back in 2016, although it’s definitely not particularly cool anymore and is used by all ages

What does it mean?

Isso is derived from the statement: ist so (short for es ist so) meaning ‘it’s like this’ or ‘it is so’ in English. When used as a response to someone’s statement, it usually means you completely agree. A good translation is: ‘right on!’, yes, that’s exactly right!’ or ‘it’s true!’.

You can also use the expression yourself to emphasise your thought. In this case you’d add it on at the end of your sentence. You often find isso used on Twitter, when someone is quoting a Tweet.

It can also be used in a more downbeat form accompanied by the shrugging of your shoulders. In this case you’re saying isso, because it can’t be helped, it’s the way it is. 

Use it like this: 

– Wir müssen gegen steigende Mietpreise in Berlin demonstrieren.

– Isso! 

– We have to protest against rising rents in Berlin. 

– That’s exactly right!

Frauen sind die besten Autofahrer, isso!

Women are the best drivers, it’s true.