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  5. Ich sage vs Ich spreche.


Ich sage vs Ich spreche.

This is an interesting topic for me and I'm sure there's no easy answer. However I was wondering if i could have some enlightenment on theses words. We have both of these words in English the literal translation of each being Sage - Say Spreche - speak. Now in English it seem a bit obscure on when to use these however of course I know since I'm an Australian, BUT if you asked me a rule on when to use what I could not tell you, even thought I know when. Is this similar obscurity in Deutsch existent?

August 31, 2017



From my experience I would say the usage in German is similar to that in English.

One difference I would say is that "sagen" can be used when in English we would use the verb "to tell". This can be confusing as the literal translation for "to tell" is "erzählen", but for me I just think of "erzählen" as stories etc. and "sagen" just as pieces of information.

P.S. Also, there is the interjection „Sag mal!“ which can be used for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is when someone won't tell you something you need to know, but in the TV series "Stromberg" (the German version of The Office) I heard it used quite a lot where in English we would say something like "Oi!" or "Hey!" - both angrily when someone bumps into you or something like that.

  • 1620

Hi Adam, I like The Office; I think there is a British and an American version but I'm not 100% on that though. I do not watch a lot of TV, I don't even have one but I watch shows on my computer. How do you get Stromberg as I think that would be a great show to learn conversation from?

Deine Freundin, Susan

P.S. I see you are at level 25 in German, what are you doing now? I know that I would not just stop there but keep on reinforcing the material.


Hi Susan :)
As a Brit I have a responsibility to say that The Office is a British TV show which had an American remake, but as someone who hasn't seen every episode I'm not too bothered :P

My current daily regimen includes:

  1. 20+xp on duo (I brought it down from 50xp sometime after completing the tree and being able to keep it completely gold for days on end);

  2. A speed review on the "German A1", "A2" and "7" courses on Memrise;

  3. My due reviews and any new cards I have added (up to 20/day) on Anki; &

  4. A page or so of exercises from „Klipp und Klar - Übungsgrammatik Mittelstufe B2/C1“ (Lösungen (solutions) sold separately :( )

I'm currently looking to join a class (or possibly get a private tutor) to get some proper speaking practice, because my speaking ability is what's seriously lacking. The trouble is, there's not that much available in my area and I don't want to resort to going online because a verbal conversation in a foreign language doesn't need to be made any harder to manage by faulty speakers/microphones and/or dodgy a internet connection. I'll figure something out though :)

P.S. I went through Germany today! Baden-Württemberg to be precise. Didn't get to use any German (on Germans) because the entire time was spent in the car, but I did get to experience the Autobahn! :D I'm on holiday for the next couple of weeks (not in Germany, but (hopefully) near enough) so I'm hoping to get some use of the old Deutsch :)


Can you send a link to the German A2 memrise page? I can't seem to find it.


Kein Problem.
Yeah, they removed the links for their A1 and A2 courses; supposedly so only people who had already started them before they introduced the German 1-7 courses wouldn't lose their minds.

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Hallo Adam - Schöne Ferien! Nach deinem Urlaub bitte darüber schreiben; vielleicht auf deutsch. Susan


Werd ich gerne machen :)

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I was able to find the TV series Stromberg. Too bad it has no German or English captions, it just makes it a little more difficult for me to learn from it. But it is still good for total immersion.


Use them the exact same way in English.

Can I speak with you? Can I say with you? (Kann ich mit dir sprechen?) (reden works there as well)

But when saying which languages you speak, you say "Ich kann Deutsch". The "sprechen" isn't needed in that case.


It is a re leaf to realize that in German and English they're the same


sagen and say are transitive verbs: you have to say something; you can't just say. sprechen and speak are intransitive verbs: you just speak; you can't speak something. (I guess there are rare exceptions in set phrases like "speak truth to power", but that's the basic idea.)

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