German Word of the Week: …thing

Now, giving you the German translation of “thing” (which is “Ding” or “Zeug”) would not make for a very interesting read. Fortunately, there is this phenomenon in the German language that allows you to add noun + noun + noun +… you get the idea. These compounds are actually also the reason why German has got so many very long words. Once you are familiar with it, it is quite a simple structure, really. It is also not that hard to “decipher”. But back to things. Thing (“Zeug”) comes in very handy when using it as part of these compounds. Can’t think of a catchy word for “toy”? Just call it play thing (“Spiel-zeug”)! What’s that form of transport called again that flies and is best taken for longer distances? Right, the fly thing (“Flugzeug”)! And the one that’s used on roads? Correct, it’s a drive thing (“Fahrzeug”). You might have guessed, they’re both better known as airplane and vehicle. Need to repair or build anything? A craft thing (“Werkzeug”), or tool, might come in handy. Writing utensils = “Schreibzeug” (write things), lighter = “Feuerzeug” (fire thing), school equipment = “Schulzeug” (school thing), etc. There are a lot of compounds with “zeug”. Some of them are more colloquial and regional dialects tend to use them even more frequently than Standard German. And that’s the first step towards building your own long German compounds done!

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