Meine lieben Studenten!

My dear Students!


Hopefully the matter of the Umlaut is clear. Please refer to the pronunciation guide for the sounds. When you see an "e" immediately after "a," "o," or "u," you may be sure that it represents the Umlaut and changes the sound of the vowel.

That could be confusing only in one case -- when "au" (pronounced as "ow" in "how) takes an Umlaut, it goes only on the first vowel, "a," and makes the sound "oy" as in "boy." The best known example is the die Frau (the lady/Mrs.) becomes das Fraeulein (the young or unmarried lady/Miss). Fraeulein is pronounced "FROY-line."

And, yes, das Fraeulein is neuter (as are all words ending in "lein" or "chen," dimunitive endings in German); that prompted Mark Twain to note that in German a turnip has gender but a young lady doesn't.

From now on I will comment on fewer and fewer words -- only on new words or old words in new uses. Otherwise it would be not only repetitious but also redundant, too.

In this lesson we will study Commandments Six, Seven, and Eight. The next lesson should complete the commandments. Then we'll see whether we can complete the Creed in three lessons.

You are all doing excellent work. See how good I am at building self-esteem?


Das sechste Gebot

The sixth Commandment.


sechs -- six (cardinal number, the number itself)

sechste -- sixth -- (ordrinal number, in order) -- the "t" makes it ordinal; the "e" is an ending (DON'T WORRY, be happy).


Du sollst nicht ehebrechen

Thou shouldest not marriage-break.


die Ehe -- marriage

brechen -- break -- cognate

ehebrechen -- to commit adultery -- a compound word. Oh, for the days when only adultery could break a marriage!

das Ehebruch -- the marriage breech -- adultery.


Was ist das? -- Antwort

What is that?-- Answer


Wir sollen Gott fuerchten und lieben, dass wir keusch und

We shold God fear and love, [so] that we chaste and


zuechtig leben in Worten und Werken, und ein jeglicher

moral live in words and works, and each one


sein Gemahl lieben und ehren.

his spouse love and honor.


keusch -- chaste -- morally pure. die Keuschheit -- chastity.

zuechtig -- morally disciplined, properly brought up.

Note: at the end of an adjective like "zuechtig," the "ig" is pronounced like "ich." So why do they write "g"? Because when endings are added, the sound will be the hard "g" sound.

leben -- to live -- in the sense of being alive or in the sense of way of life (not with respect to residence or dwelling).

Worten -- words -- das Wort -- neuter noun -- plural die Worte -- "n" added for dative plural -- for the preposition "in" takes the dative case.

Werk -- works -- das Werk -- neuter noun -- plural die Werke -- "n" added for dative plural as the object of "in."

Note: German has lots of short words. So it loves rhymes as in the Third Commandment (luegen und truegen), but it also loves alliteration as in "Worten und Werken," which is better rendered "words and works" than "words and deeds,' if one wants to preserve any literary character.

ein jeglicher -- each one -- literally "one each" -- cognates. Why the different words order? That's just the way Germans speak. It makes sense to them; so we have to adapt. They have to adapt to us when then speak English.

ein jeglicher -- each one -- nominative singular masculine -- but here, as so often, the masculine does "double duty" and is gender non-specific.

sein -- his -- possessive pronoun -- singular, accuastive, masculine -- in modern German it would be "seinen" but not always in Luther's day. The "en" is the masculine accusative singular ending today.

Gemahl -- spouse -- masculine noun der Gemahl. There is a feminine form: die Gemahlin. Here the masculine does double duty. This is accusative, the direct object of the two following verbs.

lieben -- love

ehren -- honor. We are used to the weaker verb "to respect," but there is little respecting these days and even less honoring.


Das siebente Gebot

The seventh Commandment


sieben - seven

siebente -- seventh (with "e" as an ending).

Note: modern German tends to shorten this ordinal number to "siebte."


Du sollst nicht stehlen

Thou shouldest not steal.


stehlen -- to steal -- cognate, same meaning.

Note: When "s" comes before "t" or "p" at the beginning of a word, it is pronounced like "sch" ("sh" in English). So this word is pronounced: SCHTAY-len.


Was ist das? -- Antwort

What is that? -- Answer


Wir sollen Gott fuerchten und lieben, dass wir unsers

We should God fear and love, [so] that we our


Naechsten Geld oder Gut nicht nehmen, noch mit falscher

neighbor's money or property not take, nor with false


Ware oder Handel an uns bringen, sondern ihm sein

business or commerce to us bring, rather [to/for] him his


Gut und Nahrung helfen bessern und behueten.

property and living help better and protect.


unsers -- our -- cognate -- genitive, singular, masculine. The "s" is the sign of the genitive -- like our possessive case.

Naechsten -- neighbor -- literally, the one closest/next to us -- see explanation under the Fifth Commandment. Genitive, singular, masculine. It doesn't end in "s" because it follows unsers, which has already signaled the genitive with its "s."

Geld -- money -- das Geld, neuter noun. From das Gold, gold (cognates). Neuter accusative singular here -- direct object.

Note: in many languages, the word for money comes either from gold (das Geld) or from silver (French: l'argent).

oder -- or

Gut -- property -- das Gut, from the adjective "gut," cognate to "good." The German can use this word in the singular meaning the same as our "goods" or it can use it in the plural, "die Gueter," with the same meaning. Das Gut can even mean real estate, depending on the context.

nehmen -- to take.

noch -- nor

mit -- with -- this German preposition ALWAYS takes the dative case.

falscher -- false -- cognate -- "er" is the feminine, singular, dative ending.

Ware -- die Ware -- "wares" -- cognate -- as in "hardware," that is, hard goods for sale.

Handel -- masculine noun -- der Handel -- trade, commerce; cognate to handle as in asking a salesman whether he handles hardware, that is, does he sell it?

Note: Walther and others have pointed out that "der Handel" does not necessarily mean "to touch or grasp with the hand" even though it comes from "die Hand," "the hand." In the same way, the etymology of "baptizo" in Greek does not determine its meaning. USAGE, NOT DERIVATIONS, DETERMINES THE MEANING OF ANY WORD.

an -- "onto" or "to" -- preposotion -- cognate to "on" -- but with prepositions, all bets are off as to what they mean -- they may mean the same as their cognates or the opposite. In this case, "to."

Note: certain German prepositions take the dative if there is no motion implied but the accusative if motion is implied. "In dem Haus" -- "in the house" -- dative, no movement. But "in das Haus" -- "into the house" -- accusative, motion implied. So "an" here takes accusative because a movement (the transfer of ownership or literally taking something away from someone and into my possession) is implied.

uns -- "us" -- cognate -- here used in the accusative! But the dative is the same form: uns.

bringen -- to bring -- cognate.

sondern -- rather

ihm -- him -- dative as the object of the very "helfen," to be of assistance TO him.

sein -- his -- neuter singular accusative -- the nearest noun is neuter: das Gut, but it applies also to the feminine noun, die Nahrung. The possessive adjective is neuter because the nearest noun is neuter.

das Gut -- see above.

die Nahrung -- living -- literally: nourishment -- implies that one is earning a living.

helfen -- help -- takes the dative case (ihm).

bessern -- better -- cognate -- to better, to improve.

Note: Gut/good are cognates; so are their compartive forms: better/besser. We can make "better" a verb without changing it: "to better." German adds the "n": bessern.

behueten -- protect -- die Huete -- protection. The "be" is an unaccented prefix that emphasized that something is really being done to the object -- so "hueten" would be "to guard," which "behueten" is more active--to protect.

Note: "be" is a prefix and is not accented. This word is pronounced: be-HUEE-ten. The "ue" is pronounced like "ee" in "free" -- only purse the lips as if you're just about to give your Gemahl(in) a great, big, wet smackeroo. (The German cognate is: das Schmackeruu).


Das achte Gebot

The eighth Commandment


Du sollst nicht falsch Gezeugnis reden wider

Thou shouldest not false witness speak against


deinen Naechsten

thy neighbor.


falsch -- false -- cognate -- no ending in this instance -- in Luther's day the neuter singular nominative and accusative often had no ending.

das Gezeugnis -- witness -- the "nis" as an ending is related to our "ness." This word is archaic; modern German would say "das Zeugnis."

reden -- to speak -- this verb implies expressing and conveying meaning -- not merely making noise with the mouth. The related noun, "die Rede," means "the speech" as in a (hopefully) coherent presentation.

wider -- against -- preposition -- take the ACCUSATIVE case ALWAYS. That may be because there is a sense of motion in opposition to someone or something.

deinen -- thy -- masculine accusative singular, for which "en" is the ending.

Naechsten -- neighbor (as explained).

Note: modern German would put "reden," the verb, at the very end of the clause. That was not as strictly observed in Luther's day, so he has this prepositional phrase, "wider deinen Naechsten," dangling after the verb. That is not wrong; it only sounds archaic and outmoded -- as does the King James Version. But let's remember that Luther's complete German Bible translation was published almost seventy years before the KJV -- so it is older and has even more reason to sound archaic.


Was ist das? -- Antwort

What is that? -- Answer.


Wir sollen Gott fuerchten und lieben, dass wir unsern

We should God fear and love, [so] that we our


Naechsten nicht faelschlich beluegen, verraten,

neighbor not falsely belie, betray,


afterreden, oder boesen Leumund machen,

slaner, or bad reputation make,


sondern sollen ihn entschuldigen, Gutes von ihm reden.

rather [we] should him excuse, good of him speak,


und alles zum besten kehren.

and everything to the best turn.


unsern -- our -- cognate -- masculine accusative singular, indicated by the "n," the direct object. Naechsten -- neighbor -- same meaning for "n." The nominative (subject) would be "der Naechste."

faelschlich -- falsely -- modern German uses the adjective form as the adverb -- that is, it doesn't add anothing to "falsch" as we do to "false" to make the adverb (the word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb). But Luther's German sometimes did so. "Lich" and "ly" are related forms here.

beluegen - belie - cognate -- to tell lies about.

verraten -- betray --der Verrat, betrayal. Note: "ver" is a prefix; it is not accented. This verb is pronounced: fehr-RAH-ten.

afterreden -- slander (note: reden; the related noun is die Afterrede). "After" has the connotation of "back" in German -- here used in a negative sense -- saying something both untrue and injurious.

boesen -- evil, wicked. The adjective is "boese," the "n" signifies masculine singular accusative -- the direct object -- it goes with the following noun "Leumund." An English cognate would be "base" as an adjectve: "a base fellow," that is, a low-life.

der Leumund -- reputation. Can refer to a good or a bad reputation; here the adjective makes it clear.

machen -- to make -- cognate.

sondern - rather

ihn -- him -- accusative singular personal pronoun -- the direct object of the following verb.

entschuldigen -- to excuse -- die Schuld = guilt; schuldig = guilty. The "ent" is an unaccented prefix with the notion of undoing something -- so it is like "un," "de," or "ex" in various English verbs. So it does not mean here to make invalid excuses for someone but to exonerate or exculpate him. Pronounced: ent-SHOOL-di-gen.

Gutes -- good -- neuter singular accusative noun made from the adjective "gut."

von -- of ("von" -- pronounced like "fawn" in English -- may mean "from" or "of"). This prepositon ALWAYS takes the dative case.

ihm -- him -- dative singular masculine personal pronoun, the object of the foregoing preposition.

reden - to speak. It means actually to say and mean good things about the other person.

alles -- all -- neuter singular accusative adjective.

zum -- to the -- pronounced tsoom.

Note: German may contract a preposition with the definite article. "Zum" is a contraction of "zu dem" (tsoo dame). "Zu" is the cognate to "to," and often has a similar meaning. It ALWAYS takes the dative case. "Dem" is the dative singular of the definite article ("the") in both masculine and neuter.

besten -- best -- cognate -- the superlative of "gut."

kehren -- to turn.

Note: Luther did not say that we should "put the best construction on everything" but that we should "turn everything to the best." So the translation most of us have memorized is not literal but interpretative. Both mean that we should interpret another's words and actions in the most positive, truthful way.


Hier endet die vierte Lektion.

Here endeth the fourth lesson.


Make and study your vocabulary cards; study them aloud. Also keep reading and re-reading the German sentences aloud over and over. You will soon be getting the rhythm of the original thought pattern.

I love to study names and what they mean. There's more to it than meets the eye. The Elector of Saxony at the beginning of the Reformation was "Friedrich der Weise," "Fredrick the Wise." He did not meet Luther personally but, if I remember correctly, heard him preach once. After he died in 1525, Luther compared him to a certain king in the Bible, whose name has the same meaning. "Der Friede" is the German word for "peace." So "Friedrich" would be a peaceful or peaceable man.a To which Biblical king did Luther compare him--and why?


Christo befohlen!


Johannes M. "Herr Professor Pastor Doktor" Freiherr von Drueckhammer

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