"That is the purpose."

Translation:Das ist der Zweck.

January 10, 2013

This discussion is locked.


To any native German speakers out there, what is the purpose of "ja" in this sentence and others like it?
From Wikipedia:
Ja (engl. "after all") indicates that the speaker thinks a certain fact should already be known to the listener and intends his statement to be more of a reminder or conclusion.
Ich habe ihm ein Buch geschenkt, er liest ja sehr gerne. ("I gave him a book; as you know he likes to read.")
Ich verleihe kein Geld, das zerstört ja nur Freundschaften. ("I never lend money. Everyone knows that only destroys friendships.")

Is this the case, and if so, how do you decide to use it? Is it one of those subconscious words that just seem to get thrown in...like Canadians (stereotype) use of the word "eh?"... E.g. "So I was at the Timmy's the other day eh, when I ran into Dougie."

Any insight would be helpful. :)


Let's start to craft your modal particle section, Hohenems. I have found this wonderful article for you, which explains a lot already: http://languagegeek.net/2011/06/13/german-modal-particles-%E2%80%93-was-soll-denn-das/

I'll try to give some furhter explanation, but beware that [Disclaimer:] all I describe here is derived from my personal experience and might only illustrate my mileu or own impressions.

'Aber': The first example given, I would rather use as: The hike was beautiful, but really tiring actually. Usually, you use this to combine sentences which are contradictory at first sight, especially when one sentence states something seemingly bad and the other sentence doesnot. It is used to state that the seemingly bad part didn't impair the good part.

'Bloß/nur': Mostly interchangable. That's just a fly! You only have to try! Bloß and nur are used to belittle something and emphasis that something's not as bad or hard as it seems. What was that? Oh, that's just the wind in the trees. 'Ach, das war bloß der Wind in den Bäumen'. I think it's pretty much like only/just in english.

'Ruhig': This is usually used with some other persons's actions and remarks that this someone shouldn't worry so much and just do it, you really don't mind. 'Mach ruhig das Fenster auf, wenn du möchtest'. (Just?) open the window, if you want to. You can bring along some friends, I really don't mind: 'Bring ruhig noch ein paar Freunde mit'. It has a friendly, considerate touch, if you asked me.

'Etwa': This expresses that something is contrary to one own's expectations or surprising/astonishing for you: You DO KNOW how that works?! 'Weißt du etwa wie das funktioniert?' They haven't found out about us, have they? 'Sie haben das mit uns doch nicht etwa herausgefunden?' Please note: for 'doch' here the same rules apply as for 'ja'.

'Halt/eben': Mostly interchangable. In more rural areas, this is often used and almost as often, without much meaning, as a filling-word. And because that's not already hard enough, there are THREE contrary ways to use this: 1) it states something that is contrary to the way you want it to be, but you can't change it and have to accept it anyway. It puts a resigned emphasis on your sentence. That's how life is, can't change it. 'So ist das Leben eben.' - 'Dann müssen wir halt den anderen Weg nehmen'. Well, then we have to use the other way [if this one is blocked], even if we don't want to. 'Du musst es eben noch mal probieren' [sigh] you just have to try it again, even if it seems hard and unfair. 2) the other possibility is to emphasise your [in your opinion correct] statement or argument Just beware of the filling-word-variation. It means nothing. In standard language, you would rather use 'eben', often combined with 'drum' or 'darum'. Can be used as 'genau (deshalb)', too. That's exactly why we have to fight poverty! 'Eben darum/genau deshalb müssen wir die Armut bekämpfen.' 3) To weaken a negation. The Duden said so. I'm not too keen about this. 'Sie war nicht eben freundlich' - She wasn't really/too friendly. I would rather use 'gerade' here, just like it's possible in case 2).

Okay, this is really exhausting. I'll leave it like that for now. Just tell me, if you need more.


That's awesome! Thanks!
I copy and pasted it to a Word document so I can have it handy, and bookmarked the link. Short of moving to Germany/Austria and using German on a daily basis, I don't think I'll get the hang of using those words, but at least I'll have a better understanding of their meaning when I come across them!


In my humble opinion, wikpedia got it right there. You use this kind of 'ja' to point something obvious out or to provoke an answer or state someone's missing the (obvious, logical) point. In some cases, this 'ja' is interchangable with 'doch'. Both are used in many different situations with different connotations, so I can't pin it down to one rule. Maybe someone else will.


Thanks! I've been trying to find more in-depth descriptions online, and have found some, but having the wikipedia description backed up by German duolingo users helps a lot!


Have you found any rules for the use of 'ja'? Else, I would have suggested, one has to learn it by observing actual usage. In that case, I'm sure we can find you examples and translations. This is actually quite interesting and might be useful for other people, too, since it's one of those special quirks of german.


I haven't found any "rules", just more examples of usage. I think it's one of those things you just have to pick up as you go along.


"Das ist ja eine fantastische Diskussion".


I translated that as "This is a really fantastic discussion and I will introduce a section for modal particles just for you Hohenems." But my German isn't the best, so maybe I didn't quite get it. ;)


Adding to "aber": "Das Wochenende war aber schön!" The weekend really was nice.


Why isn't Begründung accepted?


Begründung is a rationale or justification, not a purpose.


How would you say "What's the purpose of that?" Would that be "Was ist der Sinn davon?"


Yes, that's a good translation.


Looked at five dictionaries. None gave "purpose" as a definition for "Sinn". I put "Bestimmung", which several give as "purpose", but it was marked wrong.


( ' that is the purpose of my doing ' ) ... ... is the usage in German ( ' das ist der Sinn ' ) ( ' das ist der Zweck ') meines Handelns ... ( ' Das ist der Zweck meines Tuns. ' )

( ' Bestimmung ' ) ... is more ( ' that is my destiny ' ) ( ' Das ist mein Schicksal. ' )

google-Translator is not a good choice

but there is a new Translator-Software in the Web that gives a more precise translation

give it a try ... - https://www.deepl.com/translator

explanations are also provided on this WebSite

type ( ' Bestimmung ' ) ... and look at the explanations ... by pointing with the mouse cursor on the word


What's wrong with "Bestimmung"?


As dieta wrote in response to rabberish, Bestimmung is more like "destiny".


Is Sinn mind or purpose ?


Love these useless Duo hover hints. 'That' marked as 'Der' of course marked wrong when you try it. Instead of fixing this crap they focus on money grabbing..

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.