1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. "These two come by now and th…

"These two come by now and then."

Translation:Diese beiden kommen ab und zu mal vorbei.

April 25, 2018



i don't understand this sentence...


diese beiden = "these two (people)"
vorbeikommen = "to come by (for a visit)"
ab und zu = "now and then"
mal = a softening particle, makes it sound friendlier. Optional.


thanks for the explanation, but where have we ever seen vorbeikommen? Plus the hover hints are totally whacked - why in the world is mittlerweile and etwa suggested?


Heh, Mittlerweile is because the hint machine found the accidental juxtaposition "by" + "now."


So here's what my German-speaking husband has to say about "ab und zu mal": "ab und zu" is a bit ambiguous. It means, "off and on", or "back and forth", or stuff along those lines. Using the "mal" makes it specifically about time - i.e., "now and then".

He also said that, although Duo let me answer with "kommen" rather than "vorbeikommen", he thinks that was wrong. If the English is "come by", the German ought to be "vorbeikommen".


how do we know when to make a sentence sound friendlier with 'mal?' that is, in which sentence structures or ideas or smthg do we use 'mal?'


Sweet. Good, clear explanation. Ty.


Thanks for the explanation!


Why is ".....mal vorbei" needed?

I wrote "Diese beiden kommen ab und zu", and it was accepted. I came to the forum to discuss the use of "beiden" (irrelevant now), but this translation has really thrown me off balance!

The English doesn't say "for a visit" - I'm not trying to be overly critical, just translating what I thought this meant.

It's very rare that my original answer is accepted, and that it's a simpler version of the one on display, hence the confusion.


„Vorbeikommen” is the trennbar word for “come by.” Why DL allows just „kommen” here without a „vorbei” is a mystery to me.

As for „mal,” a moderator’s comment above says it’s an optional, softening word, making it a friendlier statement.


Thank you, Voyle.

I find it confusing when one minute, only one answer is accepted, and the next, several seem to do the trick, so to speak. That was the main reason for my question.

I feel as though I'm getting used to Duo's pattern of teaching, then it suddenly changes.

The inconsistency is quite unsettling, as I'm sure you can understand.


These two "visit you", but not daily. Only now and then.

"kommen mal vorbei" = "vorbeikommen" or "vorbeischauen" (stop by/swing by/come over/come around)



What's the implication if I simply said "Diese beiden kommen ab und zu"? Is this the neutral version of the sentence?


"Diese zwei/beiden kommen ab und zu" is also an accepted answer, which I have tried today.


i put that and it was marked wrong


The word bank accepted it as correct for me.


I am also wondering this


It works, but that doesn't really answer the question.

Edit - my German source says, it really should be "vorbeikommen", not just "kommen", since the English is "come by" and not just "come".


My word bank (16NOV20) did include vorbei. I think DL lets some things slide if they don’t do undue damage to the meaning.

While we’re at it (and in the absence of the Moderators), could you ask your source: How important is the location of “mal” here, and of these “spice words” in general? Otherwise put, how flexible are they? My sense is that they can almost go anywhere—as long as grammar rules don’t rule out the location.


I'm afraid my source (my husband) is just as vague as Duo about where "mal" might go in a sentence - you have to have a feel for it, it seems. Sigh.

However, in this particular sentence, he says it really belongs with "ab und zu" because that phrase could mean a lot of different "one the one hand/on the other" things, and adding "mal" nails it to the "time" meaning of "now and then".


Ok. So it has to be in there. Sorry to be so dense, but is there a clear feel for this sentence „ab und zu mal” oder „kommen mal ab und zu vorbei”? Oder sind die beiden möglich?


“abundzumal” is very helpful, DianaM. That may even stick in long-term memory.

Vielen Dank an Ihnen beiden.

(I hope that’s right ; )

  1. "ab und zu mal" just goes together that way. My husband says it pretty much feels like one word, "abundzumal".
  2. He got quite weirded out by the sentence (accepted by Duo) "Diese beiden kommen ab und zu", which he says sounds seriously wrong.
  3. He then went on to say "Ab und zu kommen diese beiden" is almost ok. Not great, but ok; he says it is grammatical but sounds like something is missing. It would be a little better if it were, "Ab und zu werden diese beiden kommen". But he's been trying to verbalize why, and, so far, failing. We have a lot of these conversations, haha. At some point, I just figure these are details I will likely be forgiven for not getting straight when trying to speak in Germany and let it go.


So is this sentence normal and clear without mal?


This appeared out of the blue with the 'mal' left out, as a gap. I had absolutely no idea what could be missing. The hover hints were obviously not helping. How is this reasonable?


"Etwa" is given as a clue for "now and then" instead of "ab und zu mal" - is there a way "etwa" could be used correctly in this sentence? My clumsy attempt was incorrect...


Would this be considered wrong - "Diese paar kommen ab und zu vorbei"


But "Paar" would be "couple" in English and you would translate it as "Dieses Paar....". In the given English sentence is written two = zwei. (:


I tried this: "Diese zwei kommen ab und zu an." It wasn't accepted, but I'm wondering if it means something close. Any insight?


"Ankommen" is in English "arrive". A better German sentence would be: "Diese zwei/beiden kommen ab und zu vorbei" without "an". The addition of "mal" is an unnecessesary strengthener (modal particle) and "vorbeikommen" was given with the English verb "come by". (:


why is "mal" needed. other translations don't include it


"mal"? Muss das sein? Echt? Und deswegen habe ich ein Leben verloren? Macht ihr Witze? Ich finde es überflüssig. Es ist schon übertrieben.


Nein, das war gewiss nicht der Grund - man kann das "mal" auch weglassen (habe ich schon ausprobiert). Da ist wohl noch etwas anderes bei der Übersetzung nicht richtig gewesen.


Never seen it before so thanks for the awesome hints, Duo. Why not just put random French or Chinese words in there for us?


the hover hints were not there, ergo, makes it hard to make the sentence correctly


The hints didn't even suggest anything after kommen correctly for me. Reported it, that's the first time that's ever happened to me.


I wrote "diese beiden kommen ab und zu" and don't remember the last 2 words and it was marked correct and I don't even know why lol. Is "mal vorbei" optional here ?

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