Die einen …, die anderen …

"Die einen brezeln sich auf, die anderen kommen ganz normal."

Hi everyone, Carsten Peters, Senior Language Coach at Language Mining Company.

What we’ll look at today is a sentence from an article from Süddeutsche Zeitung about the Bundestag elections in Germany. The title of the article is „Menschen hinter Sichtschutzwänden“ which translates loosely to „People behind Screen-Walls“ meaning the voting booths that are set up in order to provide privacy to the voters while filling out the election forms.

So, here is the sentence which is the first one just underneath the title.

„Die einen brezeln sich auf, die anderen kommen ganz normal.“

Before we try to translate the sentence in order to get the full meaning for the English reader, let’s have a look at the structure first. There are two sentences separated by a comma. Both have fairly simple word order starting with a subject followed by a verb.

The subjects are „die einen“ for the first sentence and „die anderen“ for the second sentence. Translating it word by word we would come up with something like „the ones“ and „the others“. Although this is not at all how one would say it in English, however, this is German, a language different from English. In English we would probably say something like „some do this …, and others do that …“ and there are many other ways to write a sentence where the general idea is to compare two different groups of people.

Just this alone, „Die einen …, die anderen …“ would suffice to learn in this lesson. You could use this pattern by adding two different verbs in the third person plural. Let me give you a simple example: „Die einen gehen, die anderen kommen.“ This would translate to „some people go, and some people come“. Two different groups of people doing opposite things.

There is a rather funny colloquial verb used in the sentence: „aufbrezeln“. A possible translation could be „to get all dolled up“. The verb is both reflexive, hence the „sich“ (oneself), and it is separable meaning that the prefix „auf“ is placed at the end when conjugating the verb. So, the first part of the sentence reads „Die einen brezeln sich auf, …“, „Some people get all dolled up, …“ The second part of the sentence is not too difficult to understand. „…, die anderen kommen ganz normal.“, „…, and some people come quite normal.“

Try to find situations in your life where you could use this sentence structure. It will definitely enhance your German language learning experience.

… and that’s your sentence for today, see you next time.

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