Easy Learning German

Emphasizers - Easy Learning Grammar German

What is an emphasizer?
An emphasizer is a type of word commonly used in both German and English, especially in the spoken language, to emphasize or change the meaning of a sentence.
  • The following words are the most common emphasizers.
  • aber is used to add emphasis to a statement
Das ist aber schön!Oh, that’s pretty!
Diese Jacke ist aber teuer!This jacket is really expensive!
  • denn is also used as a conjunction, but here it is used as an adverb to emphasize the meaning.
Was ist denn hier los?What’s going on here then?
Wo denn?Where?
TipYou can’t always translate emphasizers directly, especially denn and aber.
  • doch is used in one of three ways:
  • As a positive reply to a negative statement or question:
Hat es dir nicht gefallen? – Doch!Didn’t you like it? – Oh yes, I did!
  • To strengthen an imperative, that is the form of a verb used when giving instructions:
Lass ihn doch!Just leave him.
  • To make a question out of a statement:
Das schaffst du doch?You’ll manage it, won’t you?
  • mal can be used in one of two ways:
  • With imperatives:
Komm mal her!Come here!
Moment mal, bitte!Just a minute!
  • In informal language:
Mal sehen.We’ll see.
Hören Sie mal Look here now …
Er soll es nur mal versuchen!Just let him try it!
  • Ja can also be used in one of two ways.
  • To strengthen a statement:
Er sieht ja wie seine Mutter aus.He looks like his mother.
Das kann ja sein.That may well be.
  • In informal language:
Ja und?So what?/What then?
Das ist ja lächerlich.That’s ridiculous.
Das ist es ja.That’s just it.
  • Schon also has more than one use.
  • It is used informally with an imperative:
Mach schon!Get on with it!
  • It is also used in other informal statements:
Da kommt sie schon wieder!Here she comes again!
Schon gut. Ich habe verstanden.Okay, I get the message.
Key points
  • There are lots of little adverbs used in both English and German to emphasize or soften the meaning of a sentence in some way.
  • The most common of these are aber, denn, doch, mal, ja and schon.

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