It can be frustrating when you are feeling confident with your German skills, only to travel to a certain part of Germany and be confronted with words you’ve never heard before.
If you find yourself in South Germany, Austria and Switzerland, for instance, it will be impossible to avoid the word gell.
It will almost always be heard at the end of a sentence and pronounced with rising intonation (ie. as a question).
The most obvious English equivalents would be ‘right?’ or ‘isn’t it?’. In German, some more widely spread equivalents include nicht wahr? or oder?
When a speaker uses this particle, they’re often looking to see if the person they are speaking to agrees with the statement they have just made, or to see if what they have said is correct.
It can also be used if you are seeking to invite someone into a conversation or encourage their input.
Gell is just one of many regional variations used across Germany. In northeast Germany (including Berlin), you’re likely to hear wahr (often shortened to wa) instead, while the particle ne is more common in the northwest, but used all around Germany.
Schönes Wetter heute, gell?
The weather’s nice today isn’t it?
Ich hab’ dich gestern im Supermarkt gesehen, gell?
That was you I saw at the supermarket yesterday, right?
Die Suppe war wahnsinnig lecker! Das hast du selber gekocht, gell?
The soup was super delicious! You made it yourself, right?