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German Adverb Auch

A Closer Look


What is the power behind this common little adverb? Well, depending on what you want to say, auch can mean ‘also’, ‘even’ or as a modal particle, it can imply anything from ‘I hope’ to ‘you’re sure.’ Here’s the breakdown:

  • When auch is accentuated:

    This type of auch relates to the subject of the sentence and will usually be in front of a verbal group. Its meaning is 'also.'

    Mein Sohn will jetzt auch Klavier studieren.
    My son now also wants to study piano.

    Meine Oma isst gerne Bockwurst und auch Bratwurst.
    My grandmother likes to eat Bockwurst and Bratworst as well.

  • When auch is not accentuated:

    This auch bears directly upon the elements of phrase that follow it. It usually means 'even.'

    Auch für einen fleißigen Schüler, war dies eine große Hausaufgabe.
    Even for a hard working student, was this a lot of homework.

    Ihr kann auch kein Arzt helfen.
    Not even a doctor can help her.

    Take note, that in the above sentences,the unaccented auch draws attention towards an accented word: fleißigen , Arzt, respectively.

  • An unaccented auch can also be used to indicate the mood of the speaker.

    In such cases, you will find auch to help underline the speaker’s irritation or reassurance.

    Du kannst auch nie still sein!
    You can never be still, can you?

    Hast du deine Brieftasche auch nicht vergessen?
    I hope you didn’t forget your wallet!

  • Context is Everything!

    Consider also the following two dialogues and the meaning implied by the context.:

    Sprecher 1: Die Freunde deines Sohnes können gut schwimmen./ Your son’s friends can swim really well.
    Sprecher 2: Mein Sohn ist auch ein guter Schwimmer./ My son is also a good swimmer.

    Sprecher 1: Mein Sohn treibt gerne Basketball und Fußball. Er ist auch ein guter Schwimmer./ My son loves playing basketball and soccer. He is also a good swimmer.
    Sprecher 2: Ihr Sohn ist sehr sportlich. / Your son is very athletic.

    As you can see, in both dialogues the phrases with auch are pratically the same, yet a different meaning is implied! Tone and context mean everything. In the first case, auch is accented and serves the subject of the sentence – Sohn. In the second case, auch is unaccented and the emphasis in on guter Schwimmer, implying that the son is, among other things, also good at swimming.
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