https://www.duolingo.com/Lasofi

"Auch diese beiden kommen ab und zu mal vorbei."

February 17, 2013

6 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Lasofi

I have hard time understanding (and there for learning) why does "ab und zu mal" translates to "now and then"

February 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Katherle

"Ab und zu" is a fixed expression. You can't translate it literally. It means "now and then", "off and on", "from time to time". For a Spanish translation, see: http://goo.gl/tjJRv

For a fun way to remember the expression "ab und zu", I recommend a song from the German version of Sesame Street :) : "Kekse isst man nur ab und zu" (You eat cookies only now and then). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPwbfolmNMM

"Mal" literally means "once". However, in this sentence it is used as a so-called modal particle. It doesn't have a "real" meaning here, it's just used to make the sentence sound more casual. You could also omit it without changing the basic meaning of the sentence. Modal particles are complicated phenomena and it's not always possible or even necessary to translate them. Duolingo's English translation just omitted the word "mal". For more information on modal particles, see: http://coerll.utexas.edu/gg/gr/mis_04.html

Edit: Too late :)

February 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Lasofi

Thanks for the explanation :) And I really enjoyed the sesame street video !

February 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Soglio

Thank you! Now I will remember "ab und zu" forever and ever. ;-)

March 27, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems

Thanks for the Sesame Street clip! :)

March 27, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Menschenkind

'ab und zu' (expandable with 'mal') is an idiom in German which equates the english 'now and then'. They're not the same word by word, but by meaning.

February 17, 2013
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