Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Expressions, Phrases and Sayings

Expressions, phrases and sayings are a fun way to spice up the language... Make it more colorful and get your train of thought easier communicated. I love to use them while talking, but having English as a foreign language and still trying to use them has been sometimes confusing or just plain hilarious for my conversation partners.

This post is for the German native to get a couple of tools at hand, to not make the same mistakes, I made in the past and actually be understood right away. Of course it's also for the English native to understand the German in your life a little better. (Mental note: Send link of this post to Terry!)

German ExpressionLiteral English TranslationCorrect English Translation

Nichts fuer Ungut!Nothing for Ungood.Nevermind.
Auch ein blindes Huhn findet einmal ein Korn.Even a blind chicken finds a grain every now and then.Ever dog has it's day.
Weder Fisch noch Fleisch.Neither fish nor meat.Neither fish nor fowl.
Auf dem Holzweg sein.Be on the wood way.Barking up the wrong tree.
Besser der Spatz in der Hand als die Taube auf dem Dach.A sparrow in the hand is worth a dove on the roof.A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Abwarten und Tee trinken.Wait and drink tea.Wait and see.
Ach Du gruene Neune!Um, you green nine!Good grief!
in Butter seinbe in butterthings are going smoothly
jemandem auf der Nase herum tanzendance on somebody's noseto walk all over somebody
jemanden auf Herz und Nieren pruefentest someone on there heart and kidneysto put somebody through their paces
Das geht auf keine Kuhhaut.That doesn't fit on cow's skin.It beggars description.
etwas aus dem Aermel schuettelnshake something out of the sleevecome up with something just like that
aus dem Groebsten heraus seinto be out of the roughestto be out of the woods
aus dem Haeuschen seinto be out of the little houseto be beside oneself
kurz vor dem Aus stehento be close to the endto teeter on the brink of collapse
Blut und Wasser schwitzento sweat blood and waterto be in a cold sweat
Das sind boehmische Doerfer fuer mich.Those are Bohemian villages for me.It's all Greek to me.
den Amtsschimmel reitenride the office white horseto do everything by the book
die Daumen drueckenpress the thumbscross your fingers
den Vogel abschiessento shoot the birdto take the cake
die Beine in die Hand nehmentake the legs in the handto take to one's heels
die Katze im Sack kaufento be the cat in the bagto buy a pig in a poke
die Kurve kratzento scratch the curveto hit the road
eine ruhige Kugel schiebento push a calm ballto have a cushy job
einen Korb bekommento get the basketto get the mitten
erste Sahneprime crèmedoozy
ins Fettnaepfchen tretento step into a little bowl full of fatto put one's foot in
mit einem blauen Auge davonkommenget away with a black eyeto get a slap on the wrist
mit Kanonen auf Spatzen schiessenshoot sparrows with cannonsto break a fly on the wheel
nur Bahnhof verstehenjust understand train stationIt's all Greek to me.
Wer anderen eine Grube graebt, faellt selbst hinein.Who diggs a pit for others, falls in it themselves.Harm set, harm get.
Eine Kraehe hackt der anderen kein Auge aus.One crow doesn't peck out the other crow's eye.There is honor among thieves.

This is just a small selection of the things that are different. There are tons of expressions that are the same in the English and German language.

If you have anything to add, please free to leave a comment! ;-)

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