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German word of the day: Eben

You just have to get to know this word.

German word of the day: Eben
Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

Why do I need to know eben?

Because it’s used in a wide variety of contexts and, if you use it in the right way, it’ll make you sound like you’ve really got the hang of the German language.

What does it mean?

As an adjective, eben means “even”, “flat” or “smooth”. You might hear people talking about eine ebene Fläche (an even surface), for example.

Linked to this sense of evenness are the words ebenso and ebenfalls which mean “likewise” or “as well”. You often hear these words used to reciprocate good wishes, like this:

Hab’ einen schönen Abend!
Have a nice evening!



But this isn’t the only meaning of eben in the German language. It’s also widely used in a similar way to the word gerade – and can be translated to “just” or “simply”. 

You’ll hear it in sentences like this: 

Was hast du eben gesagt?

What did you just say?

or this:

Dann müssen wir eben härter arbeiten

Then we’ll just have to work harder

Got the hang of it? Great – now here’s one last meaning that you need to know. Eben is also often used in spoken German to mean “exactly” in a confirming statement. You’ll hear it used in conversations like this, for example:

Wenn wir erst um 10 losfahren, werden wir zu spät ankommen

If we don’t leave until 19, we’ll arrive too late.

Eben, deshalb will ich um 9 los.

Exactly, that’s why I want to leave at 9.

This use of the word eben only makes sense if it refers to something that has just been said.

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For members


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.