German phrase of the day: Jetzt haben wir den Salat

Learn this phrase to vent your anger next time you and your friends get into trouble.

German phrase of the day: Jetzt haben wir den Salat
Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

Why do I need to know Jetzt haben wir den Salat?

Because there’s nothing better than having the right words to express a messy situation, especially when you’re annoyed. With this colloquial expression, you can do just that while sounding like a native speaker.

What does it mean?

Jetzt haben wir den Salat (pronounced like this) literally translates to ‘now we have the salad’. But here ‘salad’ is chaos or mess. It means something like: ‘Now we’re in a right mess!’ or similar to another English food-related idiom: ‘Now we’re in a pickle!’ or ‘now we’ve had it’.

You can use this expression when something goes wrong and things become chaotic. Perhaps you forgot to set the alarm clock and caused your family to miss an important appointment.

It’s also used when a tricky situation is caused by someone else, and you want to get across that it could have been easily prevented.

It’s not clear when this phrase first surfaced in German language. But here is what we know: the origin of salad dates back to the Ancient Roman period when the first salad consisted of raw vegetables dressed with oil and salt.

A delicious (and messy looking) asparagus salad in Germany.

A delicious (and messy looking) asparagus salad in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Martin Schutt

The root word of salad, ‘sal’ means “salt” in ancient Latin. In the Middle Ages, Europeans began experimenting with salads with whatever ingredients they had available, creating many early versions of the salads we love today.

The German phrase isn’t literally to do with salad, although it is about the the philosophy of the dish. The mixture of ingredients, toppings, and dressings makes ‘salad’ the perfect substitute for a big old ‘mess’. 

Beware that this expression is quite informal, so you might want to think twice before saying this to your German boss. 

READ ALSO: German word of the day – Kabelsalat

Use it like this:

Ich habe euch mehrmals gesagt, dass ihr das nicht tun sollt. Aber ihr wolltet ja nicht auf mich hören. Und jetzt haben wir den Salat!

I told you guys several times not to do this. But you didn’t want to listen to me. And now we’ve had it!

Warum konntest du nicht aufpassen, jetzt haben wie den Salat

Why couldn’t you be careful? Now we’re in a right mess. 

You can also use the phrase like this: Da haben wir den Salat.

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German word of the day: Umgangssprache

This is a good word to be aware of when you're looking out for phrases to add to your everyday vocabulary in Germany.

German word of the day: Umgangssprache

Why do I need to know Umgangssprache?

We may be getting a little meta here, but we think it’s worth knowing this word so you can listen out for the words around it (or know when not to use this type of language).

What does it mean?

Umgangssprache, which sounds like this, means ‘colloquial language’ or ‘slang’. These are the kinds of words and phrases you might not find in a textbook, but they are heard in everyday life.

By using slang vocabulary, you’ll be able to bring your sentences to life and sound like a true local.

The term is said to have been introduced into the German language by the writer and linguist Joachim Heinrich Campe at the beginning of the 19th century.

Umgangssprache is shaped by the world around it, whether its regional factors or social circumstances of the time. 

Here are a few examples of colloquial phrases and words:

Geil means horny in German, but it is also used colloquially to describe anything you think is cool. In English, you might use the word ‘sick’ or ‘awesome’ in the same context.

Krass is another colloquial word that can mean lots of things. It is usually used to intensify the meaning of something very bad or something very good depending on the tone and context. So something disgusting is krass, and something amazing can also be krass

Das ist mir Wurst translates to ‘that’s sausage to me’, and means you don’t give a toss. 

Das ist doch Käse translates to ‘that’s cheese’ and expresses that you mean something is absolute nonsense. 

And a ruder one is: Das ist am Arsch der Welt. It means ‘that’s the arse of the world’ and refers to a place that is far away or very difficult to reach. In English you might say ‘back of beyond’. 

You would hear these kinds of phrases in relaxed conversations in cafes and bars, but they aren’t so common in formal situations. 

Use it like this:

Ist das Umgangssprache oder kann ich das bei meinem Chef benutzen?

Is that colloquial language or can I use it with my boss?

Mir gefällt die umgangssprachliche Floskel: auf dein Nacken!

I really like the colloquial phrase ‘this is on you!’