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"Ja" in German

Sometimes I see German speakers throwing around ja mid-sentence. Can anyone explain how this works? ( unfortunately I don't have any example sentences )

June 22, 2018



sometimes it is just a kind of positive "add-in" like to agree with your own statement : "wir sollten zu Bett gehen, es ist ja auch schon spät" "we ought to go to bed, it's late already, isn't it?"


So it's basically the German version of ね from what I see. Thanks, that helped.


Judging from a very quick online search, it doesn't seem to be something like ね. I think "ja" states that the fact I'm talking about is already known to the person I'm talking to, or at least that it should be obvious to them (or maybe, as in Hannibal-Barkas's example, I'm just drawing your attention to a fact (i.e. that it's late) that probably could, in my opinion, have been obvious to you):

"Ich war ja letztes Jahr in China." = a bit like "As you know, ..." - you already know that I went to China last year, but since I'm going to say something that builds on that fact, I'm reminding you of it: "...so while we're talking about fast food, let me tell you about what kind of fast food you get in China", "...and now I would like to invite you to look at the pictures I took", ...
...but you don't necessarily actually know it already; I can also say "Ich war ja letztes Jahr in China" as something like "..., you know" - a sort of conversation starter, that, taken literally, is a bit as if "It's obvious / a well-known fact that I went to China last year": "...yeah... holidays... holidays are nice... Personally, I went to China last year, you know."

Other examples: "Das ist ja nicht so leicht." ("It's taken him two years to get the permission / to learn Chinese. After all, as you must know, that's not as easy as that."), "Man fährt ja nicht wegen der Museen nach Mallorca" ("One doesn't go to Majorca for the museums, after all"), "Ich bin ja nicht blöd" ("After all, I'm not stupid", "I'm not stupid, you know"), "Meine Katze kommt ja nie nachts nach Hause" ("You can't know this, but for me it's basic knowledge gathered from long-term experience that my cat never comes home for the night")

In addition to that, "ja" can express astonishment: "Das war ja einfach!" ("That was [surprisingly] easy!"), "Du bist ja ganz rot im Gesicht!" ("[Good Lord,] you're all red in the face!"), "Er räumt ja wirklich sein Zimmer auf" ("He's actually tidying his room [as he promised]")

(More rarely, "ja" is also used with - mostly negative - imperatives (and similar) to add an additional warning tone: "Geh ja nicht nach draußen!" ("Don't you go outside!"), "Sag ihm, er soll ja nicht zu spät kommen!" ("Tell him he must not be late!"), "Komm ja pünktlich!" ("Be sure to be on time!"). In spoken language, this kind of "ja" is stressed.)


A great video about so-called 'Modal particles' here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Awhco_VHWE


Oh I love Easy German! Thanks!

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