"Ich also los, steige ins Auto, Zündschlüssel!" is a sentence my "40 leçons pour parler allemand" book translates as "And so I left, I got in the car, and I turned on the engine." I get that turning the engine on could be expressed with a noun and that the simple present form of the verb Steigen could refer to the past, but I can't make much sense of the "Ich also los" part. Could anyone please explain? Thank you!
The translation in your textbook does not makes any sense and it is not an accurate translation of the English example (or did you translate the example from French? It sounds a bit weird for me). The tense of the translation is wrong (the English example in past tense, the German translation in present tense), the selected words don´t fit the English words and meanings and the word order is a mess.
I would translate the English sentence "And so I left, I got in the car, and I turned on the engine" directly into
- "Und so ging ich, stieg in mein Auto und startete den Motor."
This sentence seems to be an example for spoken language, where you have to imagine, that there is a place or a situation, the person wants to leave. The German verb "ging" is past tense from "gehen" and in German, wie use this verb in many different connotations. In this sentence it has the meaning of "to leave".
Although the translation in your textbook is not accurate and a bit weird, I´ll try to put the words into a more senseful situation and structure:
"Also los!" is an expression to say something like I or we should hurry up starting an action now (difficult to explain in English for me, sorry for that).
"Ich steige ins Auto." is a correct German sentence.
But the expression and this sentence don´t fit really together.
If you want, you could imagine, that someone speaks to himself, perhaps to motivate himself:
- "Also los, ich steige ins Auto!" or "Also los, ich steige (jetzt) ins Auto!" or "Also los, steige ich ([jetzt] halt) ins Auto!"
But "Zündschlüssel" does not fit into this sentece in any way without additional words or information.
Taking the example above, I could create a sentence with some additional words:
- "Also los, ich steige ins Auto...wo ist der Zündschlüssel?"
In colloquial language or if we are speaking with ourselfes, we often do not speak grammatically correct, omitting some words, so in this given picture, i. e. in a book, you could perhaps read a sentence like:
- 'Er denkt: "Also los, ich steige ins Auto...Zündschlüssel?" Er sucht seinen Zündschlüssel, kann ihn aber nicht finden."
In this example, the words "wo ist mein" are omitted by the person who thinks or speak. Another situation may be, that someone lends another person his car and they talk a bit, before one says:
- "Also los, ich steige (jetzt) ins Auto...Zündschlüssel?" opening a hand to get the ignition key from the other person, omitting "...[gibst du mir] den (Zündschlüssel) bitte?", but without these additional words it can sound a bit rude, which could be attenuated by the intonation.
But overall, these situations and sentences are constructed, it was only a fanciful thought experiment ;-)
This sounds to me like "Jugendsprache", a kind of talk only used by really young people. I read/heard texts like these in movies or something like a graphic novel. Imagin a couple of excited youngsters, one is making a big story about himself driving somewhere. Obviously, it is out of context. "ich (bin) also los(gegangen), (ich) steige ins Auto (und nehme den) Zündschlüssel" ...
As Inuzuka Shino wrote, it is absolutely without any relation to standard grammar, works only in spoken language and sounds anything but educated. This "ich also.." or "es/sie also..." is the way of telling a story from personal ecperience and explains what the person acting is doing next, after the action described earlier.
That's what you take in when you comute by rail when school is over. Something along the lines of "Isch fahr' Bahnhof" - I knew that you could ride TO a railway station, not the station itself. These are the moments when my ears twist and my brain goes to neutral. Correct usage of grammar seems to be a dying art.
Obviously, the textbook is using strange phrases. I would prefer the standard grammar.
I am sorry, but I disagree: "Ich also los" is not "very" colloquial, it is simply not a sentence, it is definitively gramatically wrong and a textbook for teaching/learning the German language is the wrong place for such weird experiments. You would perhaps hear it from uneducated and/or non German native speakers and it is nothing one should aim for when learning German. You shouldn't omit the verb in German. I hope, that this would be the only weird translation or German sentence in this textbook.