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German word of the day: Noch

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected]
German word of the day: Noch
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

With a myriad of meanings, this is one of the most commonly used words in the German language.

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Why do I need 'noch'?

Listen in on any conversation in German (or engage in one yourself!) and you're bound to hear this tiny word thrown around several times, in different contexts.

So what does it mean exactly?

Firstly, noch can simply be translated as "even", in the sense of "noch besser" (even better), "noch schneller" (even faster) or "noch kälter" (even colder).

It's also commonly used to mean "still", so you could say "Ich bin noch nicht da" (I'm not there yet). But to emphasise this, you'll also hear "immer noch". 

This gives the sense of something which has been going on for a long time, which is why "immer noch" is also synonymous with the English phrase "to this day." "Ich bin immer noch auf der Suche nach einer Wohnung" signals that you've been trying to find a flat for awhile.

If you're sitting in a cafe, you'll also likely hear someone ask for "noch 'nen Kaffee", or another coffee. The barista might reply with "sonst noch einen Wünsch?" or "Noch etwas?" (anything else?)

Here the word implies "another" so it's handy to have in your vernacular when you would like "noch ein Bier" or have "noch eine Frage": another question. 

It's also part of the German expression "neither…nor" or "noch…weder". As in "Ich habe noch die Zeit weder die Interesse, diesen Artikel zu lesen." (I have neither the time nor interest to read this article). Though we hope that's not the case!

Noch other meanings?

Along with all of these ways of utilising the word which you'll likely learn by the time you reach a B1 German class, there's a slew of slang uses which your textbook probably won't teach you.

READ ALSO: 10 ways of speaking German you'll probably only ever pick up on the street

If someone asks "Geht's noch?", they're not inquiring if something still functions but rather uttering the equivalent of "Are you mad?"

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A frustrated person at the end of their tether might sigh and say "Auch das noch!" (Not that as well! or That's all I need!) about one more thing going wrong. Someone might try to reassure them with "Das geht noch," or "It's still alright".

"Weißt du noch?" - or "Weest noch?" in Berlinerisch - is another way of asking "Do you remember?".

And if someone says that something has occurred "noch mal" (also written as nochmal or nochmals), it's simply happened again.

READ ALSO: Grüß Gott, Moin, Hallo! The complete guide to regional dialects in Germany

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