1. Education

German for Beginners
Lesson 12

The Calendar and Appointments

Days of the Week, Months, Dative Phrases

After studying this lesson, you'll be able to: (1) say the days and months in German, (2) express calendar dates, (3) talk about the seasons and (4) talk about dates and deadlines (Termine) in German. We'll also review some of the vocabulary for time and telling time that you learned in earlier lessons.

Luckily, because they are based on Latin, the English and German words for the months are almost identical. The days in many cases are also similar because of a common Germanic heritage. Most of the days bear the names of Teutonic gods in both languages. For example, the Germanic god of war and thunder, Thor, lends his name to both English Thursday and German Donnerstag (thunder = Donner).

Let's start with the days of the week (Tage der Woche). Most of the days in German end in the word (der) Tag, just as the English days end in "day." The German week (and calendar) starts with Monday (Montag) rather than Sunday. Each day is shown with its common two-letter abbreviation.


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Tage der Woche
Days of the Week
DEUTSCH ENGLISCH
Montag (Mo)
(Mond-Tag)
Monday
"moon day"
Dienstag (Di)
(Zies-Tag)
Tuesday
Mittwoch (Mi)
(mid-week)
Wednesday
(Wodan's day)
Donnerstag (Do)
"thunder-day"
Thursday
(Thor's day)
Freitag (Fr)
(Freya-Tag)
Friday
(Freya's day)
Samstag (Sa)
Sonnabend (Sa)
(used in No. Germany)
Saturday
(Saturn's day)
Sonntag (So)
(Sonne-Tag)
Sunday
"sun day"

The seven days of the week are masculine gender (der) since they usually end in -tag (der Tag). The two exceptions, Mittwoch and Sonnabend, are also masculine. Note that there are two words for Saturday. Samstag is used in most of Germany, in Austria and in German Switzerland. Sonnabend ("Sunday eve") is used in eastern Germany and roughly north of the city of Münster in northern Germany. So, in Hamburg, Rostock, Leipzig or Berlin, it's Sonnabend; in Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich or Vienna "Saturday" is Samstag. Both words for "Saturday" are understood all over the German-speaking world, but you should try to use the one most common in the region you're in. Note the two-letter abbreviation for each of the days (Mo, Di, Mi, etc.). These are used on calendars, schedules and German/Swiss watches that indicate the day and date.


When you're ready,
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Exercises for This Page

To say "on Monday" or "on Friday" you use the prepositional phrase am Montag or am Freitag. (The word am is actually a contraction of an and dem, the dative form of der. We'll explain more about that below.) Here are some commonly used phrases for the days of the week:

Day Phrases
Englisch Deutsch
on Monday
(on Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.)
am Montag
(am Dienstag, Mittwoch, usw.)
(on) Mondays
(on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, etc.)
montags
(dienstags, mittwochs, usw.)
every Monday, Mondays
(every Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.)
jeden Montag
(jeden Dienstag, Mittwoch, usw.)
this Tuesday (am) kommenden Dienstag
last Wednesday letzten Mittwoch
the Thursday after next übernächsten Donnerstag
every other Friday jeden zweiten Freitag
Today is Tuesday. Heute ist Dienstag.
Tomorrow is Wednesday. Morgen ist Mittwoch.
Yesterday was Monday. Gestern war Montag.
Also see > Day by Day: Day Expressions in German

A few words about the DATIVE case. In Lesson 11 we looked at the accusative (direct object) case. Below is a chart of what happens to the articles (der, die, das) in the three main cases (only the genitive is yet to come). The dative case is used as the object of certain prepositions (as with dates) and as the indirect object of a verb. Here we are concentrating on the use of the accusative and dative in expressing dates. Here is a chart of those changes. (Items in the darker boxes do not change.)

NOMINATIV-AKKUSATIV-DATIV
GENDER Nominativ Akkusativ Dativ
MASC. der/jeder den/jeden dem
NEUT. das das dem
FEM. die die der
EXAMPLES: am Dienstag (on Tuesday, dative), jeden Tag (every day, accusative)
NOTE: The masculine (der) and neuter (das) make the same changes (look the same) in the DATIV case. Adjectives or numbers used in the dative will have an -en ending: am sechsten April.

Now we want to apply the information in the chart above. When we use the prepositions an (on) and in (in) with days, months or dates, they take the dative case. Days and months are masculine, so we end up with a combination of an or in plus dem, which equals am or im. Additionally, some date expressions that do not use prepositions (jeden Dienstag, letzten Mittwoch) are in the accusative case.

Don't worry if you haven't completely grasped the accusative/dative business. We'll go into more detail in later lessons. But for now, be sure to learn the basic phrases for days, dates and months. See Part Two of this lesson for the months, dates and the four seasons.


Part 2 of this Lesson (12B)
The months, dates and seasons in German.

Exercises for This Page
Exercises to test your knowledge of the days of the week in German.

Previous Lesson (Lektion 11)

Next Lesson (Lektion 13)

German for Beginners - Contents


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