We watch a lot of American films and television and so on, and often the numbers don't get converted, but just translated. "Fuß" also is not an American invention, so you will encounter the old measures in a lot of historical texts or for example in fiction about medival times.
Germany uses the Metric system, yes. But imperial units can still be expressed in the German language. Fuß is the way to express imperial units of measurement. If you ever have to ask the question "How many feet are in a meter?", knowing the term is useful. I think it is ALWAYS useful for a person familiar with imperial units to learn how both metric and imperial units are expressed.
You learn it for the same reason you learn anything else: you might need to use / understand it. Either British / American carpenters are talking to you and you need to understand them, or you are British and want to talk to a German engineer.
Or really anything else. It has absolutely nothing to do with the unit of measurement Germany uses. Same goes for all the other DL sentences. You will never need to say "My ducks on the table will never surrender their blue socks", but you want to lean the language so just learn stuff as it comes. :)
Well, actually... I don’t know for sure how it is in German but in Sweden, old units are used but only in particular fields of expertise. Other than history, the unit inch (called tum in Swedish) is used in carpentry and the unit foot (in Swedish it’s fot) is used when talking about air travel (how high aeroplanes fly) and when at sea (how long boots are and how deep it is.) It might be the same for Germany, or maybe not.
The foot and inch may have been converted, but it is surprising how much is still governed by them.
Worktops are 60 cm deep? Rubbish - they are 2 foot deep with a bit of commercial stinginess thrown in. Similar reasoning applies to many other things, simply because the older units had evolved for practical use. We still seem to measure screen sizes in inches....
I am told that the English expression "five foot pole" only /appears/ to use the singular. In fact, this expression goes all the way back to Old English, where "foot" is/was the genitive plural. (So it is a "pole of five feet".) Obviously we've lost the genitive case, but we seem to have retained a mis-remembered echo of it. For example, people might speak of a "two meter pole". There aren't many places where I can tell this story, but this is surely one!
From the paperback first edition Vol 1 (ISBN 0-415-04738-2), page 82, we have a table of four noun declensions for the four cases in Old English (700-1100 AD).
This is followed by some explanatory notes.
"From the 'stān' declension come the productive Modern English genitive singular in -s and all the productive plurals, while the 'fōt' declension has yielded those few nouns (like foot, goose and tooth; louse and mouse; and man) whose plurals, generalised from the nominative and accusative, exploit a functional vowel alternation instead of the common suffix in -s. This palatal mutation was caused by earlier assimilation of the stem vowels to suffixes. Modern English relic phrases like 'a ten-foot pole' derive from the Old English genitive plural (translated roughly 'a pole of ten feet'), whose form 'fōta' has the reflex 'foot'. From the 'dēor' declension come Modern English uninflected plurals like 'deer' and 'sheep'."
The 'stone', 'animal' and 'learning' (lore?) declensions are also described as Masculine, Feminine and Neuter. The 'foot' declension seems to be Masculine-But-Irregular. The book goes on to note that there were other noun declensions (presumably even more irregular and rarer) at various periods and considerable dialectal variations, as you might imagine from the history. Old English is a West Germanic language, like German, Dutch and Frisian, but England was invaded by various North Germanic (Danish and Scandanavian) peoples over the same period and very little was written down so the whole linguistic landscape was probably a mess!
My source is "The World's Major Languages", edited by Bernard Comrie. (ISBN-13: 978-0415609029). It's quite pricey but you can probably pick up first edition paperbacks quite cheaply. The paperbacks split the original text into four volumes and English (including Old English) and German are in Volume 1. If you are tempted to get a Kindle version then I suggest you read my Amazon review first though, because that edition got rather mangled. (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Worlds-Major-Languages-Bernard-Comrie/dp/041560902X).
If I can find the actual book this evening, I will see if there is any more explanation.
You are very wrong. How about the tire of your car? I believe it would be in inches. How about Australia, USA, UK/Ireland. (I know Aus and Ire officially have changes but not in real life). How about aviation? Feet are still in use worldwide. How about your TV screen? How about your surfboard? How about historical texts?
People, please please stop saying "But Germany is metric anyway... What's the point? What's the point?"
I'm Australian so I have to correct the suggestion that Australia does not use metric measures in real life. We converted to metric measurement in 1970 and is the only measurement used here. Anyone under 70 wouldn't have any idea of the old Imperial measures - unless they happen to be quilters who often use American measures because that's where many quilt patterns come from.
Some of the UK still uses imperial. I am an engineer and had a tough time converting to metric when I moved to Australia. Now when I go home to England I find it strange that people still use imperial. However in saying that, I am clueless when people talk in cm for height I have to revert back to feet to understand. I am all for learning and understanding so knowing both in German is of benefit regardless :-)
In the UK metric rules in business. In most applications its much easier to use. In some situations we still use imperial, so a beer is always sold in pints when delivered by pump in a bar/pub. But as far as the brewing business is concerned its a metric pint measured out in so many mililitres. We stll use miles for distance, but apart from that the UK is now completely metric. People still use the old system in day to day conversation, but seriously, engineers, scientists, medics, electricians etc etc, they are pretty much totally metric, and why wouldn't they be?
I completely agree with Martin. The other system which is metric is money 100 pence = £1. I remember the 'bad old days' when we had 12 pence = 1 shilling, 20 shillings = £1 which made calculations much more difficult. With a science background I have used metric measurements (including degrees Celsius) for decades and it is much, much more straightforward and interconversions can be made easily. It is only tradition that keeps some imperial measurements going e.g. "going for a pint" at the local pub.
why do Germans quote fuel use as volume per distance instead of distance per volume?
Why do Americans quote fuel use as distance per volume instead of volume per distance? :)
Just the way we're used to doing things here. It seems natural to us (since that's what we've grown up with) to see "l/100 km" and consider an economical car to be one that has a small number, while one with a large number is a fuel guzzler.
Doesn't convert as quickly to the all-important question of, "How many miles can I go before I run out of gas?" (Or in your case, kilometers)
Well, our fuel gauges don't show the number of litres remaining anyway -- only fractions such as 1/2. And modern on-board computers often have an option to show the remaining range in km so we don't have to do calculations in our head.
Also, l/100 km is useful when you're returning a rental car and you want to leave it with the same fuel level as when you got it -- if you know that it consumes 5 l/100 km and you drove 400 km then you know that you have to buy 20 l.
(In my experience, rental cars are rented "return with the same fuel level" rather than "empty to empty" or "full to full".)
“In metric, one milliliter of water occupies one cubic centimeter, weighs one gram, and requires one calorie of energy to heat up by one degree centigrade—which is 1 percent of the difference between its freezing point and its boiling point. An amount of hydrogen weighing the same amount has exactly one mole of atoms in it. Whereas in the American system, the answer to ‘How much energy does it take to boil a room-temperature gallon of water?’ is ‘Go ❤❤❤❤ yourself,’ because you can’t directly relate any of those quantities.”
- Josh Bazell
Yes, and we in the US suffer greatly from it. If we want to boil a room temperature gallon of water, we merely turn on the stove and wait. It's a shame that we can't do a few trivial calculations to figure out how much natural gas to burn.
And when it does boil, the last thing we need to do is use a thermometer to find out the temperature. Boiling and freezing points of water are the least useful points of reference for a scale because those are the ones that are blatantly obvious just by looking.
American gallons are smaller than British ones. At the moment petrol tends to be sold by the litre but fuel consumption is generally referred to as mpg; yes, it is confusing.
The other confusion is that we refer to petrol (or diesel or fuel), not gas, in our cars. Gas is different - i.e. what one would use for cooking or central heating - it really is a 'gas' not a liquid.
Maybe I should get the joke, but I don't (yes, I'm American)
An imperial gallon (used in the UK) is not the same size as a US gallon -- the imperial gallon is 20% larger (4.55 litres vs. 3.79 litres).
Isn't that, btw, like, about 27 kilometers per liter?
We would express it the other way around, as fuel use per 100 km: 4.3 l/100 km.
No joke, just a comment about (in)consistency of some units. 66 (imperial) mpg is about 23km/l, but as mizinamo says, the measure used is l/100km. You'll often see car reviews/ads mention "fuel consumption", then quote mpg figures, but mpg is actually "inverse fuel consumption".
On the trip out, I switched the car's units to "metric" as soon as I got off the ferry, and along with everything else, mpg changed to l/100km, because it's the standard in the metric system (not just in Germany).
Really no reason for me to be surprised, but it just took me by surprise! It's really no different in essence than the petrol / gas thing -- what you put in your car ISN'T "petroleum", it's refined petroleum, gasoline, so 100 yrs ago some marketing dude in Europe decided that was "petrol" and his counterpart in the U.S. called it "gasoline" -- and the two of them didn't need to agree. ;-)
Well, thanks for that .. Yes, totally forgot about imperial gallons! So why do Germans quote fuel use as volume per distance instead of distance per volume? Strange and unexpected cultural difference! Doesn't convert as quickly to the all-important question of, "How many miles can I go before I run out of gas?" (Or in your case, kilometers)
Don't worry, we have enough other things to doubt. ^^
And if you are in germany and sad about the metric system go to university and study chemistry aka Doubts on a higher level. - or wait, desperation?
(Zweifel (doubt) <-> Verzweiflung (desperation) for those interested)
"Keine Sorge, wir haben genug andere Dinge, zu bezweifeln. ^^
Und wenn du in Deutschland bist und über das metrische System betrübt bist, gehe zur Universität und studiere Chemie aka Zweifel auf einem höheren Niveau. - oder warten Sie, Verzweiflung?"
Having studied a bit of chemistry I understand very well... ;-) It's "just" that I grow fed up with people saying "why should I study that, it is not used in what I do?" Like, you can't be interested in things not so useful, only for pleasure... ^^ Yes, the metric system is easy to use. Buying a cake instead of cooking is also easy. But I like mine better! :-)
The same problem here,
(Maybe it's impossible because of the identations. No one wants to read an answer if there is only one word per line...)
but anyways good luck with YOUR studies, too!
"Man liest sich!"
(modification of the idiom "Man sieht sich!" (can be translated to "see ya") which roughly translates to "read ya")
Why? Because, it's FRENCH. It's really handy if you major in Physics or Chemistry (I did BOTH), but other than that, tell me: what's 1/3 of a 'meter'? What's a quarter of a foot in metric? Fact is, in practical life, we humans can accurately estimate 1/3 and 1/4, but NOT tenths!! -- so feet, miles, and inches are much more practical to everyday life. Absolutely, if you're doing physics problems or mixing chemicals, USE METRIC, but otherwise you're being silly about decimal points.
He is five FOOT tall. British English frequently uses the singular in this context, and imperial mesurements persist amongst people of a certain age. Nobody of any age would ask for half a litre of beer in a pub. It's a pint. Not 568 ml. (If you're American, don't worry. You read me right. British Imperial pints are bigger than American pints, and British gallons contain eight of them).
That might be used jocularly, like how someone might be called "40 Jahre jung".
But much as we say that a child is "three years old" and not "three years young", the basic adjective for measuring height is groß, regardless of whether the height is considered large or small.
Maybe the "he" here is a child?
On average, german men are 1.80 m (5.9 feet) tall and german women 1.66 m (5,45 feet).
According to this list, the tallest people live in the netherlands. Germany ranks 15th, Great Britain 21st, the USA 32nd and the shortest people live in Osttimor.
Interesting that the granularity of metric makes it seem absurd for everyday life - 166 cm? Makes it sound like we're talking about skis, not people. We wouldn't say average height is 5.45 feet, we would say 5 feet 5 inches, or, usually, just say, "5 5". Especially considering a 5, 5 person just stretches and their height will change more than a centimeter -- but NOT as much as a full inch!
Granularity? There's so much room between degrees Celsius that there have to be degrees of degrees. I've literally seen thermostats that have decimal points for temperature displays in Celsius. That goes against the fundamental nature of the classic sense of the word's meaning as an increment.
Because speaking German doesn't mean you're in Germany, or that you're using German measurements. Only a few countries, but one of the is America which has a very dominant culture, especially online. You could be reading subtitles of an American movie in German, or reading an old folk story.
Not "fünf füße groß" as in English "five feet tall"?
German uses the singular for measure words: sechs Fuß, drei Meter, zehn Kilo, acht Euro, zwei Dollar, neun Pfund, zwanzig Zoll.
fünf Füße groß would only mean "as tall as five [human] feet" -- like saying something is "three hands wide". It wouldn't refer to "foot" as a unit of measurement.
And füße with a small f isn't even a German word.