German word of the day: Abwechslung

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
German word of the day: Abwechslung
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Variety is the spice of life - and you can talk a lot more confidently about it if you have this German word up your sleeve.


Why do I need to know Abwechslung

Because Abwechslung is a versatile word that can help you describe numerous things in your life, whether you're switching up your diet or simply taking a weekend trip away. Since common wisdom states that we all need a bit of Abwechslung in our lives, you may also hear friends use it when offering advice. 

What does it mean?

Die Abwechslung (pronounced like this) can be roughly be translated as 'variety' or 'change' in English. 

As you might notice, the word is built of the prefix 'ab' (away/from) and the verb 'wechseln' (to change), turned into a noun with the ending 'ung'. In this sense it literally translates as a "change away from". 

It can be used anytime you want to talk about needing to switch things up a bit, or when you're describing something that doesn't happen very often or is a deviation from the norm. 

For example, you might have decided to skip your favourite local restaurant on date night and pick a new place in the neighbourhood 'zur Abwechslung' (for a change). Or you might say that you've been stuck at home so long that you're in desperate need of some Abwechslung, which is why you've booked a weekend city break.

If your teenage son refuses to eat anything other than instant noodles and Döner kebabs, you might stress to him the importance of Abwechslung - or variety - in the human diet.

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In this context, Abwechslung is quite similar to the verb 'Vielfalt', which can be translated as variety or diversity. 

Use it like this

Zur Abwechslung habe ich mich entschieden, den blauen Rock heute zu tragen.

I decided to wear the blue skirt today for a change. 

Willst du nicht mal einen Ausflug machen? Die Abwechslung wird dir gut tun! 

Don't you want to go on a trip? The change will do you good!


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