This Trick Will Make Your German Sound More Native

When speaking German, whenever the situation allows, use “I was in“ rather than “I went to“. It’s not a mistake to say “I went to”, but it’s a translation from English and German native speakers would prefer the simpler “I was in”. Let’s have a look at an example to understand what I’m talking about.

Yesterday we went to an Italian restaurant. If you translate this sentence word for word you’ll get:
Gestern sind wir in ein italienisches Restaurant gegangen. Which is fine – no grammar mistakes here, but I would say it like this:

Wir waren gestern in einem italienischen Restaurant.
Literally: “We were yesterday in an Italian restaurant.“

You will also notice that I placed the „gestern – yesterday“ after the verb in the middle of the sentence, rather than at the beginning, as you do in English. Again, it wouldn’t be wrong to start the sentence with “Gestern”, but it kind of puts a stress on that particular word. Here is another example:

This morning I went to the supermarket.
The literal translation is: Diesen Morgen bin ich zum Supermarkt gegangen.
As opposed to the previous word for word translation, this one is wrong.
The correct translation is: Ich war heute Morgen im Supermarkt. Literally: I was today morning in the supermarket (sounds funny in English but that’s how we say it in German).

The mistake in the above word for word translation is the following:
This morning does NOT translate to dieser Morgen, but heute Morgen (today morning).
This afternoon is heute Nachmittag (today afternoon).
And tonight is heute Abend (today evening). You don’t say heute Nacht (today night), because in German, the definition of evening is anything between 7pm and midnight and night is from midnight to the morning.

So that’s the little trick I wanted to show you. It’s just a small modification in the choice of words but it makes a big difference.

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