Schon vs. Schön
What is the difference between Schon and Schön besides the Umlaut?
Often it only marks a different form of the same word (although “different form” includes derived words):
- Mutter (mother) – Mütter (mothers)
- Bruder (brother) – Brüder (brothers)
- Vogel (bird) – Vögel (birds)
- [wir] taten (we did) – [wir] täten (we would do)
- [er] brauchte (he needed) – [er] bräuchte (he would need)
- Fahrt (trip (in a vehicle)) – [er] fährt (he drives/goes [in a vehicle])
But there are a few cases like the above as well, where the forms with and without umlaut are entirely different words. Probably the example which people bring up the most is schwül (stuffy, hot and humid) – schwul (gay). A few more are:
- fordern (to demand) – fördern (to promote, to support)
- drucken (to print) – drücken (to press) (I guess these are etymologically related though)
- losen (to draw lots) – lösen (to loosen, to solve)
- Bar (bar, pub) – Bär (bear)
- Ode (ode (a type of song)) – öde (bleak, barren; dull)
You don’t need to if you take biertopf’s advice and try to think of umlauts as their own independent vowels ;) They do sometimes occur in derived forms, but the same can be said, for example, about English “oo” vs. “ee” (as in “goose – geese” which is indeed umlaut, just like German Gans – Gänse. It’s just that umlaut has stopped being a productive phenomenon in English long ago, so people just think of these words as irregular).