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Alles über 'Wasser' the German word for 'water'.

This is the first of a series of concise, often light-hearted articles in which I share my fascination with the German language, focusing specifically on those important, common words which are the basic building blocks of the language. I examine how they fit together and how they relate to equivalent words in English. This may be usefu to anyone who wants to learn German or just find out about the German language. In this article I take a look at 'das Wasser' the German word for 'water'.

Wasser is one of the most important words in any language. 'Ohne Wasser können wir nicht leben' - Without the stuff, we can't live.

If you're thirsty, maybe you'd like ein Glas Wasser, or how about ordering some mineral water: Ich möchte ein Mineralwasser bitte. übrigens, by the way, my favourite German Mineralwasser is Apollinaris.

But Vorsicht! be careful, if you see the sign 'Kein Trinkwasser' above a Wasserhahn - literally a 'water cock' ie tap - you know it's not drinking water.

If you want more than one of something you can say 'Zweimal, dreimal, viermal Mineralwasser' but as in English, if you make Wasser plural, the meaning changes.

Die Gewässer refers to waters, as in die Hoheitsgewässer, territorial waters. The plural is indicated by the a umlaut, and Ge- alters the meaning to something more abstract.

Wasser is combined with other words to give various meanings: 'Wasserschutzgebiet' is a 'water protection zone' where there are rules to protect the ground water das Grundwasser.

On a river, die Wasserpegel is the measured level of the water. In 2002 the Wasserpegel of the river Elbe rose to a very high level and causing a Hochwasser - literally 'high water' i.e. flood so big it is referred to as das Jahrhunderthochwasser, flood of the century - Jahrhundert.

The Elbe, Rhein, Weser and many canals are Wasserstraßen or Wasserwege both mean waterways. A Wasserfläche is a stretch of water of any type.

Let's not forget the Austrian painter Hundertwasser. I wonder if he uses watercolours - Aquarell?

Das wäre alles über 'Wasser'!

That would be everything about 'Wasser'... for now

Wikipedia links: Hundertwasser - Various meanings of Wasser

German language site on the subject of water: www.wasser.de.

Can you think of any more uses of the word 'Wasser'? Please contact.

Are you interested in learning German? Would you like some tips on how to learn German?


Name: Patricia McElwain
message: I would welcome any tips about learning German. I have been taking German now for about 2-1/2 years, but have never taken a language and being an older adult, it has been a challenge - but a fun challenge. I have a lot to learn.

Enjoyed your article on Wasser!

Thanks very much for your comments.

All I would advise regarding learning German is to get plenty of exposure to the language and culture at all levels. Definitely go to a German-speaking country, also look at German-language websites.

Nowadays it's so easy to get material - when I was teaching German 83-91 there was no internet, so all material was on tape or in print.

For instance you can listen and watch the news at any time - www.tagesschau.de

There may be a German-speaking group, such as organised by the Goethe Institut.

Viel Spaß beim Deutschlernen!

Written by Aidan O'Rourke
Posted/Updated 2007-03-29

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