For members


German word of the day: Eben

You just have to get to know this word.

German word of the day: Eben

Why do I need to know eben?

Because it’s used in a wide variety of contexts and, if you use it in the right way, it’ll make you sound like you’ve really got the hang of the German language.

What does it mean?

As an adjective, eben means “even”, “flat” or “smooth”. You might hear people talking about eine ebene Fläche (an even surface), for example.

Linked to this sense of evenness are the words ebenso and ebenfalls which mean “likewise” or “as well”. You often hear these words used to reciprocate good wishes, like this:

Hab’ einen schönen Abend!
Have a nice evening!


But this isn’t the only meaning of eben in the German language. It’s also widely used in a similar way to the word gerade – and can be translated to “just” or “simply”. 

You’ll hear it in sentences like this: 

Was hast du eben gesagt?
What did you just say?

or this:

Dann müssen wir eben härter arbeiten
Then we’ll just have to work harder

Got the hang of it? Great – now here’s one last meaning that you need to know. Eben is also often used in spoken German to mean “exactly” in a confirming statement. You’ll hear it used in conversations like this, for example:

Wenn wir erst um 10 losfahren, werden wir zu spät ankommen
If we don’t leave until 19, we’ll arrive too late.

Eben, deshalb will ich um 9 los.
Exactly, that’s why I want to leave at 9.

This use of the word eben only makes sense if it refers to something that has just been said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


German word of the day: Abwehrschirm

Need to put your defenses up? Then this German word could come in handy.

German word of the day: Abwehrschirm

Why do I need to know Abwehrschirm?

Because you may hear it in the news a fair bit at the the moment – especially with regard to the recently announced energy price cap and the state money associated with it.

More generally, it can also be a useful word to know when talking about military matters or anything to do with protecting oneself.

What does it mean?

Der Abwehrschirm (pronounced like this) is a defensive shield, or screen. In its most literal sense, it can be used to describe special types of defensive weapon that are used to shoot down missiles from the sky before they can hit their targets. For example, the Iron Dome defence system used by Israel is sometimes described in German as an Abwehrschirm.

READ ALSO: How could Austria’s new electricity price brake benefit you?

You can also use the term figuratively to describe anything that acts a form of protection and defence. In Germany, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) has become so fond of the military metaphor that he’s been using it to describe the some €200 billion that the traffic-light coalition is pledging to spend on bailing out businesses and citizens in the energy crisis.

His decision to describe the government’s latest spate of borrowing as a “defensive shield” against Putin rather than a departure from the famed ‘debt brake’ hasn’t gone entirely unnoticed, though. Just check out the clip below where the satirical Heute Show pick up on his slightly, uh, interesting choice of words. 

How can I remember it?

Abwehrschirm is fairly easy to remember if you break it down into smaller components.

To start with, the prefix “ab” tends to always stand for “off” or “away”. To stop what you’re doing or break something off, for example, is abbrechen. To set off on a journey or travel away from somewhere is abreisen. Das Wehr, meanwhile, means the military or defence: think of the German Bundeswehr, or the federal army. It’s worth mentioning that, in Austria, the Armed Forces are known as the Bundesheer.

Knowing those two components, it doesn’t take long to work out that abwehren means to ward off or repel something and Abwehr means interception or defence. 

You may also recognise the word Schirm from taking your phone to get its screen repaired, or from buying a sun umbrella (Sonnenschirm) for your balcony. You generally use it when you’re talking about any kind of shield or screen, and the same applies here.

So, put together, you have a shield designed to ward off or intercept something: a defensive shield.

Use it like this:

Die Bundesregierung spannt einen Abwehrschirm gegen die Energiekrise auf.

The federal government is putting up a defensive shield against the energy crises.

Wird der Abwehrschirm die gewünschte Wirkung haben?

Will the defensive shield have the desired affect?