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"Wir wechseln besser das Thema."

Translation:We'd better change the subject.

October 31, 2013

39 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeeRamm

Is this really said this way in German? It feels like a literal translation from the English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/binweg

Yes, „Wir wechseln besser (or just as good: lieber) das Thema.“ is common in German.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeeRamm

Thanks! I guess "lieber" would have sounded less strange to me. Since little of my German comes from the classroom, I go very much by what sounds right.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sandrayojana

Ten days to 1000! Congrats!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Saabchief

'we better change the subject' I believe is wrong. It may song right to some ears but that would be ' we'd better change the subject' where the" 'd "becomes inaudible.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chigi5

You are right. "We better" is very poor English. I think you could say - "Better we change the subject." In that case, "It is" is understood at the beginning of the sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ghilabrill

thanks, I feel I learn also a lot of English :) though it is frustrating to fall on English mistakes while studying German...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Taugenix

'We better change the subject' is not grammatically acceptable UK English, though the expression 'had better' is in common use as in 'You had better put your coat on' (it's cold outside ), or as above, 'We had better change the subject' ( Before someone gets hurt?) Druckles' suggestions of 'we should' or 'we ought to' are good alternatives if the translator is prepared to lose the 'besser'.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bobknox

In America, too.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Karcsibacsi

I think "you'd better put you..." is "you would better" rather than "you had better". Am I correct?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

No, "you'd better" is a contraction of "you had better". I think it comes from the "have to" construction which is synonymous to "must", but don't quote me on that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Twoquiche

I disagree. 'We better [+verb]' is colloquially very common in UK English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wibbleypants

Maybe amongst plebs.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Druckles

To me, "We ought to..." or "We should..." both seem perfectly valid translations here. Is there any reason why they are not?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bobknox

I am confused. Does this sentence mean we are improving the theme or that there will be consequences if we don't alter it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

The latter.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackYakov

"we change the theme better" could be ok?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Soglio

That doesn't work in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Druckles

It doesn't sound it. What's the context that you're thinking of?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackYakov

like "we make something better", so here verb "change" substitutes "make",

"we change something better",could be used like this?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlanGalloway

No, that would not work. In this sentence, "We had better..." means that it would be advisable, or recommended, to change the topic/subject. It isn't about making the topic/subject itself better, or about making anything better. Plus, "change" can't substitute for "make" in the way that you are envisioning. Good question though.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeahTracy

Shouldn't there be a "hatten" if there is a "had"? I wrote "We change to a better subject." As in I am changing my focus in school or something like that. But it was marked wrong.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/da864606

That would be hätten since it's subjunctive, not past tense.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JenniferNarzt

For this to be translated into "We'd better change the subject", wouldn't one of these be better: < Wir sollen besser das Thema wechseln. > < Wechseln wir besser das Thema! > To me, the original sentence would translate (very awkwardly) to < We are changing the subject better > or maybe < We are improving the subject > (I know that "verbessern" is more literal for "improving")


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

Bitte sehr!
For future reference there is a reply button on (almost) all comments so that it is clear specifically who is being thanked, and for what they are being thanked :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/herwerth

Shame, but a lot. „Wir wechseln besser das Thema == We had better change the subject”. This is quite simply a beautifully ridiculous! Muhaha! Tenses and stuff do not matter.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KyleGoetz

Welcome to translating between any two languages.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Beneficium

Is 'besser' an adverb in this sentence?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tbosnjak

what is wrong with: Better, let's change the subject.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dennis766722

If one restructures the sentence to: "Better (that) we change the topic" the German verb makes more sense to my English sensibilities. It takes out the "had", and puts it clearly into the present tense. "had better" has an element of threat to it, and suggests that "sollen" might be used here. Once again, we English speakers fall prey to the German propensity to mix up sentence order!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/arnodunstatter

Would "Wir wechseln das Thema besser zu sein" translate to "we change the theme to be better"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chrisalbert123

That is just such a rubbish translation in English


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

What do you mean?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dombey

How would one say or write, "We're changing the subject for the better"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

A quick consultation with Reverso Context (the veracity of which can sometimes be questioned) brought me to the following sentence:

„Wir wechseln das Thema zum Besseren.“


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f0xG3_PatG

As my knowledge goes : We'd implies "We (woul)d or (shoul)d or (ha)d".

So this is a form of a subjunctive. Thus, could this be translated as "Wir würden lieber/besser das Thema wechseln" or "Wir hätten lieber/besser das Thema wechseln". ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

As my knowledge goes : We'd implies "We (woul)d or (shoul)d* or (ha)d".

Correct.
And in this case we're dealing with "we'd" = "we had".

*I'm personally not aware of "we should" being contracted to "we'd", but a quick Google search says so, so who am I to disagree? :P

So this is a form of a subjunctive.

Indeed.

Thus, could this be translated as "Wir würden lieber/besser das Thema wechseln" or "Wir hätten lieber/besser das Thema wechseln". ?

Neither.
With "lieber" the first sentence means "We would prefer to change the subject.", which isn't quite the same as "We'd better change the subject."; and the remaining suggestions aren't grammatically viable.

Had better is an interesting grammatical phenomenon, that—AFAIK—has no direct equivalent in German. I'm more taking a stab here than quoting a grammar textbook, but my gut tells me that "had (better)" is a subjunctive form of "to have to" equivalent to the modal verb "must".

This would give us two verbs to choose from when translating to German: müssen & haben (zu). Obviously, we're still dealing with the subjunctive here, so we'll need the Konjunktiv verb forms (KII to be specific):

Wir müssten das Thema wechseln.
Wir hätten das Thema zu wechseln.

Now, do I think the two above sentences are suitable alternatives to the suggested translation?

No.
But I think that's as close as we can get trying to somewhat match up the underlying grammar behind the "had better" construction in both languages.

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