So, learning German is hard. Have you heard that before? Well I am here to tell you, it is in fact damn hard. It’s so hard, the Germans actually have a saying for it: “Deutsche sprache, schwere sprache”, which word-for-word translated is “German language, difficult language”. See what I mean? Even Germans think German is hard!
I’m not trying to complain, mind you. I really don’t have any room to. I am comfortable with German, very comfortable. I understand 95% of what I hear, and 98% of what I read. And I am actually a fairly fluent speaker, when it comes to everyday conversation anyway. In the beginning I was also told I was learning very quickly. So like I said, I am not trying to complain, much. But there is one part of the German language that I just can’t ever seem to get right. Articles. Definite articles. Indefinite articles. Articles, articles, articles! They are my curse, the bane of my existence, my kryptonite. And the problem is, as far as I can tell anyway, my German is not going to move to the next level until I learn them.
Now if you’ve read my post “The Backstory”, you know that 90% of any German skills I posses are thanks to the best teacher on the planet (a.k.a. my beautiful wife) and any shortcomings I have are definitely not her fault. No, the fault lies solely with me. She spoke and I, like a typical guy, did not listen. My fatal mistake you see, was that with every word I learned I failed to memorize the corresponding article. But who needs articles anyway, right? Especially 16 different ones? I mean, English only has one and we do just fine. Why overcomplicate the matter? That many different ways to say “the” is just plain overkill.
Do you want to know what really upsets me about articles though? It just so happens to also be the reason they are so hard to learn. Consistency. Or better put, inconsistency. You would think there would be some kind of rhyme or reason to these things, but no! All furniture uses “der”? No! All fruit uses “die”? No!! All animals use “das”? No!!! No system what-so-ever. To make matters worse, some things actually have more than one article. For example, my car is called “das Auto” aaaaand “der Mercedes”. For another, I am sitting on “die Couch” oooor “das Sofa”, depending on your preference. And you don’t want to get me started about how “die Couch” turns into “der Couch”, simply because I am sitting on it. Are you kidding me?!?! Who exactly made all these decisions? Apparently this mysterious person woke up one day and thought, “today I am going to make the German language as hard as humanly possible”!
So what’s the end of my little tale? I have a (semi)expansive German vocabulary, but a totally non-expansive collection of articles to go along with it. And the lesson to be learned from my little rant? Always, always, always learn the article with the word. Always. And eat your breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day!
(As a side note, even in this post I screwed up the articles for couch and sofa. Thankfully my wife caught it before I hit the publish button)