Meine lieben Studenten!

My dear Students!


This lesson will cover the Second and Third Commandments in the Small Catechism. Please be sure to make vocabulary cards and to study them at least six days a week for a few moments.

I put in the technical grammatical terms for those who care or can benefit from them. It would be enough for now simply to remember, for example, that "ist" means "is."





Die zweite Lektion

The second Lesson.


All German nouns are capitalized; in a German title only the first word and any nouns are capitalized.


Die -- "the" -- cognate -- feminine singular definite article.

zweite -- second. The "t" makes it a cardinal (second) instead of an ordinal (two). The "e" is the adjectival ending. DON'T WORRY about endings yet.

Lektion -- "lesson" -- derived from Latin "lectio"--pronounced let-TZIOHN. German words are usually accented on the first syllable -- except for some foreign words such as this one -- and for words with some prefixes, which I will point out.


Das andere Gebot

The other Commandment


Das -- "the" definite article, neuter, singular.

andere -- "other" (cognate) -- used in Luther's day with the meaning "second."

Note: You will remember that "cognates" are "cousin words." That is the reason for the similarity; they come from the same source (Old German/Old English). English is a Germanic language--in fact, German and English are both "West Germanic" languages (along with Dutch, Frisian, and Flemish; FYI, the Scandinavian languages are considered "North Germanic").

Gebot -- "Commandment" -- from the verb "bieten," "to bid."


Du sollst den Namen deines Gottes nicht missbrauchen

Thou shouldst the name of thy God not misuse.


Du -- "Thou" -- second person singular, nominative case (used as the subject).

Sollst -- "shouldest" -- from "sollen" -- a helping verb.

Note: German, like English uses helping verbs. Sollen is a "modal auxiliary," a helping very that changes the "mode," in this case expressing obligation). The "st" goes with "Du" in German as it goes with "Thou" in English. When such a helping verb is used in German, the main verb (missbrauchen) goes to the end of the clause; that can be confusing at first; when you get the "hang" of it, it brings things together in a different way than English does).

den -- "the" -- accusative singular masculine definite article (if that's not clear, just accept the fact that German has many forms of "the"--in this case, it goes with a masculine singular noun being used as a direct object,. receiving the action of the verb).

Namen -- "name" -- noun, masculine (Der Name is the dictionary form). Obviously this is a cognate not only of the English word "name" but also of the Latin equivalent "nomen." The "n" is added when it is used as something other than the subject of the sentence--in this case, it is the direct object, receiving the action of the verb.

Note: with possession, German doesn't usually use a preposition such as "of." Rather it uses the genitive case--corresponding to our possessive case. English could say "thy God's name" or "the name of thy God" with the same meaning; German tends to say "den Namen deines Gottes."

deines -- "thy" -- cognate. Second person (you) singular, possessive pronoun. This word and the following noun are in the genitive (possessive) case--in English, supply "of."

Gottes -- "God" -- cognate. This masculine noun ("der Gott") is used here in the genitive (possessive) case (des Gottes; with "deines" "thy" replacing "des" "the"). Don't worry about the endings.

Note: German tends to use "s" or "es" to indicate the genitive (possessive) case with masculine and neuter nouns (no ending in the genitive for feminine nouns--DON'T WORRY NOW (or ever)--AWBCITG!). For your interest, the use of "s" to indicate possession in English is of Germanic origin--but the use of the "s" to indicate plural comes from Norman French.

Because English is a Germanic language with an overlay of French/Romance influence, we end up with the confusion that possessive singular sounds the same as the plural--as in boy's, boys, boys'.

nicht -- "not" -- negation -- often comes last or, as here, second last, before the verb.

missbrauchen -- "misuse" -- the prefix, "miss," is cognate to our prefix "mis," with the same meaning. "Brauchen" is "to use."


Was ist das? -- Antwort

What is that? -- Answer


Was -- "what" -- cognate -- interrogative pronoun, that is, a word used in place of a noun to ask a question.

ist -- "is" -- cognate -- third person singular verb, present tense.

das -- "that" -- cognate -- mild demonstrative pronoun.


Wir sollen Gott fuerchten und lieben, dass wir

We should God fear and love [so] that we


bei seinem Namen nicht fluchen,

by His name not curse


schwoeren, zaubern, luegen, oder truegen, sondern

swear, conjure, lie, or deceive, rather


denselben in allen Noeten

the same in all needs


anrufen, beten, loben, und danken.

call on, pray, praise, and thank.


wir -- "we" -- cognate -- first person plural pronoun.

sollen -- "should" -- cognate -- helping verb.

Gott -- "God" -- cognate -- masculine noun (der Gott), here used as direct object.


Note: After the helping verb (modal auxiliary, sollen), the main verb or (in this case) verbs go to the end of the clause--that is why the direct object comes in here. "We should God fear" is the proper German word order to say "we should fear God." Their word order sounds strange to us; but ours sounds strange to them. Why do they do it as they do? NEVER MIND!!!

There is not necessarily any rhyme or reason--for them or us. That's just the way it is (grammar is descriptive, not prescriptive).

fuerchten -- "fear" -- cognate.

und -- "and" --cognate.

lieben -- "love" -- cognate.

Note: The dictionary form (infinitive, without personal ending) of every German verb ends in "n."

dass -- "that" -- or here "so that" -- cognate -- subordinating conjunction, expressing purpose or result

As with all the commandments, our obedience should flow from the proper fear and love of God--if we kept the First Commandment perfectly, we would keep all the others as a matter of course.

Note: After subordinating conjunctions (that, because, etc.), the verbs go to the end of the clause. In "A Scandal in Bohemia," Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has Sherlock Holmes say that only German treat their verbs so impolitely. After coordinating conjunctions (and, but, for), the word order is not altered. So in a subordinate clause, the verb comes at the end. "Get used to it."

wir -- "we" -- first person plural pronoun -- nominative case -- used as the subject.

bei -- "by" -- preposition taking the dative case (the case of the indirect object).

Note: German has four cases: nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative. The nominative is for the subject of the sentence (the noun or pronoun indicated who or what is doing or being something). The genitive is used for possession. The dative is used for the indirect object. The accusative is used for the direct object. STAY WITH ME ON THIS! It isn't that confusing (how confusing is it?). Remember the following example:

The son of the man gives the lady the book.

Der Sohn des Mannes gibt der Frau das Buch.

Son is the subject--nominative case. Man is the possessor (in a general sense)--genitive case. Gives is the verb. The lady is the indirect object (could be expressed with the preposition "to" or "for")--dative case. The book is the direct object (the thing being given)--accusative case.

Genitive, dative, and accusative cases are also used after certain prepositions. That's all there is to it. So "case" just has to do with how a word is used in a sentence--subject, possessor, indirect object, direct object, or object of preposition. You need not memorize the above. It will become clear in time as I continue to point it out.

seinem -- "His" -- third person masculine possessive pronoun -- the "m" indicates the dative case in masculine and neuter. The preposition "bei" takes the dative case.

Namen -- "name" -- cognate (der Name).

nicht -- "not" -- cognate. Note that "nicht" often comes just before the verb. German tends to push "nicht" toward the end of the clause--but often the verb (or a number of verbs) claims the very last place.

fluchen -- "curse"

schwoeren -- "swear" -- cognate

zaubern -- "conjure" -- used to refer to any and all practice of magic, witchcraft, sorcery--hence the translation most of us memorized "use witchcraft."

luegen -- "lie" -- cognate.

oder -- "or" -- cognate.

truegen -- "deceive"

Note: German loves rhymes since, like English, it has many short, strong words. Luther no doubt liked the sound here: "luegen und truegen" -- "to lie and deceive."

sondern -- "but" "rather" -- coordinating conjunction (doesn't change word order). German ususually uses "aber" as we use "but." "Sondern" is used to exclude what went before and to replace it with what follows. For example:

He is not short but rather [he is] tall.

Er ist nicht kurz sondern [er ist] lang.

denselben -- "the same" -- masculine, accusative, singular -- refers back to the name -- derselbe is the masculine nominative form.

This unusual word changes both in the middle and at the end with case and number It's really two words written as one. Derselbe, desselben, demselben, denselben -- just to give the masculine singular forms. DON'T WORRY -- I'll point it out whenever it occurs. Make a vocabulary card with derselbe, dieselbe, dasselbe (masculine, feminine, neuter). Plural is dieselben.

in -- "in" -- preposition -- takes the dative case (or the accusative case with the meaning "into")

allen -- "all" -- cognate. Make a vocabulary card with "all" as the word both in German and in English. "en" is the dative plural ending.

Noeten -- "needs" -- cognate. "die Not" is the dictionary form for your vocabulary card. "die Noete" is plural (German often adds an umlaut--represented here as an "e" after the "o"--in the plural; that must be noted in each separate case); the "n" indicates dative plural--the object of the preposition "in." Most of us memorized "in every trouble"; the meaning would be the same. "Not" means "need" not in the sense of an ordinary daily need--rather in the sense of a specific situation in which we have a certain specific and urgent necessity--so it is not inaccurate to translate it as "trouble."

anrufen -- "call on" -- "rufen" is a general verb for "call" -- "an" is a preposition cognate to "on." This verb means "to call on" or "to appeal to [for help]." Today this very is also used for making a telephone call--Ich rufe ihn an--I call him on the phone (separating "an" from "rufen").

beten -- "pray"

loben -- "praise"

und -- "and" -- cognate

danken -- "thank" --cognate.


Das dritte Gebot

The third Commandment


das -- "the" -- neuter, nominative, singular, definite article.

dritte -- "third" -- from drei "three."

Gebot -- commandment


Du sollst den Feiertag heiligen.

Thou shouldest the Holy Day hallow.


Du -- "thou"

sollst -- "shouldest"

den -- "the" -- nominative accusative singular definite article. The article is masculine because the following noun "Tag" is masculine.

Feiertag -- "holy day." "Der Tag" is "day" -- cognate. "die Feier" and its verb "feiern" refer to a celebration but not with the idea of a contentless, frivolous celebration. So it isn't contrary to the note of awe or reverence in divine service. It has the connotation (added meaning) of taking time off from daily work and activities for something special.

So it is very appropriate for the idea of the Sabbath.

Note: German loves compound words. When two nouns are put together as here, the gender is determined by the second part. So "der Tag" is masculine, and "der Feiertag" is masculine.

heiligen -- "hallow" -- the verb from the adjective "heilig" "holy."

Note: You will often find a German word relating to an Anglo-Saxon word in English, which is basically a Germanic tongue. In English we often have the option of using an Anglo-Saxon word or a Latin (or French or Greek) word for the same basic meaning. So we can use the (somewhat archaic, outdated) verb "to hallow" or the Latin-based "to sanctify" for making or keeping something holy. "Heiligen" is used for "sanctify" and the noun "Heiligung" is "sanctification." In the Our Father, we will say:

Geheiligt werde dein Name.

Hallowed be Thy name.


Was ist das? -- Antwort

What is that? -- Answer


Wir sollen Gott fuerchten und lieben, dass wir die Predigt und

We should God fear and love [so] that we [the] preaching and


sein Wort nicht verachten, sondern dasselbe heilig halten,

His Word not despise, rather the same holy keep,


gerne hoeren und lernen.

gladly hear and learn.


Wir sollen Gott fuerchten und lieben, dass -- see above.

wir -- "we" -- first person plural pronoun, nominative case--the subject.

die -- "the" -- definite article, feminine singular, accusative case -- the direct object.

Note: Like Greek and other languages, German will sometimes use the definite article in situations in which we omit it in English--and vice versa. DON'T WORRY about it. It's just something to get used to but doesn't really alter the meaning.

Predigt -- "preaching" -- cognate. "die Predigt" is a feminine noun. It can mean "preaching," but it can also mean "the sermon." Plural is "die Predigten," "sermons" ("die" is the plural definite article for all genders).

Note: "Predigen" is the verb "to preach." These are cognates between German and English, but both are ultimately derived from Latin "praedicare," "to predicate." Sermon is from "sermo," a Latin noun meaning "word" in the sense of "discourse."

und -- "and" -- cognate

sein -- "His" -- possessive adjective here -- neuter singular, accusative case (direct object).

Wort -- "Word" -- cognate (obviously!) -- das Wort. Neuter noun, used much like "word."

Note: German does NOT capitalize pronouns such as "he" and "his" referring to God. You will see second person (You, Your) pronouns capitalized because German tends to capitalize ALL second person pronouns. There is no theological significance to the lack of capitalization.

Note: "das Wort" has TWO plural forms. "die Worte" refers to words in context--"the words which our Lord spoke." "die Woerter" (umlaut or, here, "e" added) refers to separate vocables, as in "Woerterbuch" "book of words" "dictionary."

nicht -- "not" -- cognate.

verachten -- "despise." "ver" is a prefix and is not accented. This word is pronounced: fehr-ACH-ten.

sondern -- "but rather"

dasselbe -- "the same" -- neuter singular accusative. That unusual word again! Two words written as one. Explained under the Second Commandment.

gerne -- "gladly" -- an adverb (a word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb--here modifying the two verbs that follow). Gerne is somewhat outdated; modern German tends to drop the "e" -- "gern."

Note: German uses "gladly" to express the idea for which we say in English: "like to do." So while we say in English, "I like to swim," the German says, "Ich schwimme gern." Most of us memorized "gladly hear and learn it"-- the idea is that we should actually like to pay attention to and learn from God's Word. What a concept!

hoeren -- "hear," "listen" -- cognate.

und -- "and" -- cognate.

lernen -- "learn" -- cognate.


Bonus: The "common table prayer" is from German!


Komm, Herr Jesu, sei unser Gast,

Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest,


Und segne was Du uns bescheret hast.

And bless what Thou [to] us given/shared hast.


Here endeth die zweite Lektion.


Christo befohlen!

John M. "Herr Professor Pastor Doktor" Drickamer, Lakeview, Oregon

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