The Batshit Insane Ways Germans Tell Time (And Why I Hate Them For It)

crazy confusing clocks
“What time is it? Time to give up.” — Photo Credit: Richie Diesterheft http://www.flickr.com/photos/puroticorico/ — Subject to CC Generic 2.0 license

As you probably know, I am an American expatriate living with my German wife in Hannover, Germany. I am enrolled in an A1-level intensive German language and integration course, and you know what we just started learning the other day? How to read clocks and communicate time. How do Germans tell time, you ask? I have no idea. Apparently, they use unbreakable cryptography while dropping fistfulls of acid.

Here’s the deal — in America, we typically use the 12-hour clock to relate time. (Americans who use the 24-hour clock are either, A: In the United States Military, or B: Trying to act tough because they have little wieners.) When speaking to one another, Americans discuss time in terms of 12-hour cycles, specifying a.m. and p.m. for Ante Meridian and Post Meridian. This is why we say things like, “That filthy bum was drunk at 8:00am!” and “…but so was I, so I sat down next to him and we partied until the cops made us leave at like 6:00am the next day. Those dicks.”

Predictably, Germans use a more complicated and entirely counterintuitive system for relating time to one another. They use either the 12-hour clock or the 24-hour clock in conversation (it’s not always the 12-hour clock, no matter what your German teacher tells you), so you never know which one you’ll get. Also, they use a totally backwards, Caligula-insane way for expressing half hours. They say “halb,” meaning “half,” but it does not mean 30 minutes past the hour; it means literally half of the hour before. So, taken all together, when someone says the time is “halb drei,” they do not mean the time is 3:30pm — they mean it’s 2:30pm (or 14:30, if they want to make damn sure you walk away confused).

headache funny kid with sword through head
“Just tell me the time, man. Don’t church it up.” — Photo Credit: Wapster (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wapster/) — Subject to CC Generic 2.0 license

The German language uses words like “vor,” “nach” “kurz” and “viertel,” much like the English words for “before,” “after,” “shortly” and “quarter,” respectively. So, with the 24-hour clock and pre-half hour in mind, let’s take a few examples and translate them directly from German into English:

“zehn vor halb drei” = “ten before half three” (2:20pm)
“zehn nach halb fünf” = “ten after half five” (4:40pm)
“zehn nach halb vier” = “ten after half four” (3:40pm) …which is also…
“zwanzig vor vier” = “twenty before four” (3:40pm)
“kurz vor halb sechzehn” = “just before half sixteen” (between 3:26pm and 3:29pm, but not more than 5 minutes before the half hour)*

So, in my tiny little walnut brain, I have to translate these German words and numbers into English, convert everything from the 24-hour clock into the 12-hour clock, then decipher the monkeyshit-tossing logic behind the German half hour.

funny depressed monkey
Pictured: American tourist in Germany immediately after asking for the time. — Photo Credit: Beatnik Photos (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dharmabum1964/) — Subject to CC Generic 2.0 license

Now, I agree the 24-hour clock makes more sense than the 12-hour clock in terms of logistics and scheduling. What does not make sense, however — in English or German — is speaking about time in relative terms, what with all the “half before” and “quarter after” tomfuckery going on. So, when it comes to speaking informally about time — between two thinking, breathing human beings — I have developed a beautifully simple solution which will solve the problem worldwide: just say the exact time, to the minute, every time.

Just say the numbers, man! No tricks. Everyone gets along fine. There won’t be any fights before snack-time because everyone knows it starts at exactly 10:35. DING DING! Milk and cookies for everyone.

*To be fair, a German probably wouldn’t say this to someone on the street unless they were being a total dick.

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117 thoughts

  1. And here I thought I had it bad when I had trouble grasping the totally American expression “ten of (such-and-such an hour)”, as in “ten of three”. It was “ten til three” where I grew up, and this other way of saying it totally threw me (“wouldn’t that be the ten-minute mark that belongs to the 3 o’clock hour, as in, ten minutes after three?”) Now, though, I see I had it easy after all…

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  2. Let me add West Germans, who say “viertal nach 4” – and East Germans, for whom the SAME TIME would be “viertel 5”, those who say, “viertel vor 5” against thise who say “dreiviertel 5” for the same time, and so on.

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  3. My parents were from Germany (Hamburg). When I was in school, in New York, learning to tell time was one of the last things I mastered and to this day I still will not wear a watch! This made me laugh and cry… oh, the memories!

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  4. Well, sometimes it’s even confusing for Germans, because in some parts they use a different and even more encoded system. My grandmother, who grew up in Berlin (but it’s used in the South of Germany as well) said things like “viertel drei” (quarter three) and meant 2:15 (or 14:15). She counted the quarters since the last hour, but put the next hour behind. More than once we were late to dinner after playing outside, none of us kids except the cousins from Bavaria could decipher her method on the fly.

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  5. Great job! I remember too being told something would be delivered in the 34th week…if you can’t nail it down to a specific time, at least tell me the month so I don’t need to calculate on my fingers and toes, right? Alles Gute!

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  6. Okay, it may be a little confusing, but as you wrote it’s nearly the same as in English… We also use the 12-hour clock in most expressions. When we use the 24-hour clock, we use it like you want in exact points of time (“14:38” or something like that).
    But I honestly have never ever heard anyone say “halb 16” or “viertel vor 16”..

    And if you ever visit the southern regions where I live (Black Forrest and around), prepare for your nightmares!
    Some people here still use “viertel” and “dreiviertel” like half and say “viertel drei” for 15 past 2 and “dreiviertel drei” for 14.45…. XD

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  7. Just be happy to live in Hannover. In the southern and eastern regions of Germany it is different again, which confuses the “Hochdeutsch” speaker every single time.

    There is “Dreiviertel zehn” = “three quarters ten” which means 9:45 (to get am or pm depends on the context as usual)
    Somewhat more rarely there is “Viertel zehn” = “Quarter ten” which means 9:15

    So it is somehow consistent with “Halb 10” = “Half ten” = 9:30, but I think you have to be born in those regions to use it…

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    1. I wast just about adding the same comment. I was born close to Hannover and we moved to the southwest when I was 6 – I still haven’t figured out the “viertel” and “dreiviertel” business, it drives me nuts and I have to ask EVERY SINGLE TIME “so, that’s viertel vor…, right?”. Needless to say that I am not right. Never.

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  8. Having taught in Integration courses long before they got that stupid name I can imagine how you feel about something so basic as talking about the time. We have to make a science out of everything. Apparently, your teacher took pity on you and didn’t reveal another complication: somewhere between Hannover and Berlin, there is a language border where telling the time is concerned. Germans East and West of that border have difficulties understanding each other. I once had a student who started his Integration courses in Thüringen. When he came to Bremen he shocked hie new fellow students (and me :-)) with “Viertel drei” meaning either 2:15 or 14:15 and “drei Viertel drei”, meaning 2:45 or 14:45.

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  9. And by now you haven’t even written about the system many people in Eastern Germany use where it is e.g. “Dreiviertel zwei” which means “three quarter [of] two” which should mean “viertel vor zwei” which means “quarter to two” which means “13.45” which means “1.45pm”. But to be honest, this last system even makes many Germans go nuts ;)

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      1. Oh, I should have added this to my post: Awesome blog, awesome guy, awesome Wife! So thanks for writing this beautiful masterpiece and keep on showing us Germans what we often do not realise by ourselfs. Greetings from a guy who can’t wait to visit the US by himself one day ^^

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      2. What a wonderful thing to say, Pascal! Seriously. It’s comments like your which keep me writing.

        Thank you for taking the time to send such a nice message. Please visit our blog again soon and have a fantastic day.

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  10. Russians have a similarly complicated system. That’s why I just ask to see a phone or flash my watch at someone. Ugh. 2:30 TWO THIRTY

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    1. Well that’s absolutely true… hmm. I guess because unlike a lot of challenges, I have no idea if I’ll ever actually learn your language. Seriously, at times it seems that hard to me. Generally when I’m tired. :)

      Thank you for the comment, Fran!

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  11. Problems I very well know. OK, now I am being a jerk (has nothing to do with the male body part mentioned above, because I am female), I will say the military time: 1045 hrs (then my beloved one knows its quarter to 11 a.m.). On the other hand when I would say 2000 hrs the TAGESSCHAU starts, he will know that it is 8 p.m. sharp. Works quite well – and being a real jerk I will call the military ZULU TIME. ROFL.

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  12. hilarious! i agree all the quarter before, half, etc., just complicates things. learning time in any other language isn’t easy because of slang and different terms to express essentially the same thing. i agree… cut to the chase already! :)

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  13. love it. Not making life easy is it…My favourite here in Mexico is “ahorita” (a little bit) as in – I’ll do it in a little bit. To me that means within the next ten / fifteen mins, but here you’re talking a time scale of a whole 24 hours.

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  14. Ok, let me break it down for you, I’ll speak slowly if you prefer:
    Viertel 3/halb 3/dreiviertel 3 = a quarter of 3/half of 3/three quarters of 3 aka 2:15/2:30/2:45. Simples! Much less confusing than the West German version: Viertel nach 2/halb 3/viertel vor 3 for the same times but it’s not my fault you decided to take residency in Hanover. Good luck with the A1, just remember, this shit will seem ridiculously easy once you will have moved on to C2.

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      1. No problems! I’m a student in the UK and been studying it since I was 11 and I’m in my second year of university now – I’d like to think it’s getting better! Have you found living in Germany has greatly improved your German?

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      2. Yes, but I’d say it’s mostly a result of my German integration course. I work from home, so I’m not forced to speak German on a daily basis, and I think that’s what we all need to really improve. The force. :)

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  15. oh my lordie.. what a system. Back home we do have “quarter to 3” which means it’s still 2:45.The direction “To” or “past” is inserted there so at least you get to know how to compute it . But other than that , majority is the 12-hour style with a.m or p.m, makes life easier.

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  16. Sounds tricky. I’d have trouble with just the language.
    Maybe you need to walk around with a 24 hour clock around your neck, then you can point and move the hands. If people question you, say your a former America rapper like Flavour Flav :)

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  17. I read your blog because A: you crack me up and B: I have an American friend living in Bonn. Oh how many times she calls me and tells me about an experience I just read about on your blog! It always makes her feel better when I tell her you had the same problem! The time thing is amazing. She gets so frustrated trying to keep it all straight. Poor girl. She has so many languages in her head that she has trouble speaking in just one at a time.

    Thanks for the laugh! Keep up the good work!

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    1. That is fantastic to hear, Barbara! I love when people tell me these things.

      Thank you for reading and please say hello to your friend from us! (By the way, which languages does she speak?)

      Have a fantastic day and thank you again!

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  18. Agreed – it would be fine if everyone stuck to either the 12 or the 24 hour clock, but like you mentioned, there’s some fluidity when talking to real people. For example, no matter which I chose when discussing scheduling with the secretaries at work, they will reply in the opposite. Because I’m wrong.

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  19. here in eastern bavaria we sometimes even use things like zwanzig auf zwei (20up2), which means 20 to 2, as well as viertel über zwei (quarter over two), meaning quarter past two…
    but, we use the 12h system…

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      1. It’s quite hot, too, even though I live on 650m(2132ft.) above sea level. This is the first time that we had to water our lawn… ;)

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  20. I guess it all depends on what side of the ocean you grew up. For me the German system is totally logical and the English/American system is hard to grasp. Or maybe it’s a glass half-full/half-empty situation? You add to the hour and we subtract (or use fractions apparently in South Germany) Anyway, flashing a phone/watch is a great way to avoid it all, as well as saying all the numbers :-)
    Good luck!

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      1. Well they do military and “normal” time depending on what kind of clock you are looking at. Most digital clocks were in military but not all. Being from america I am used to the other way of telling time.

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  21. She speaks French, German and of course, English. It’s horrible on days where she’s talked to people in all three. By the time she’s chatting with me she has trouble thinking of the English word she wants to use. I suppose for some 3 languages isn’t “a lot” but for me it’s a crazy ton. :) Hell I have trouble thinking of the word I want sometimes and English is the only thing I know. I can’t imagine my brain cycling through more than one.

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  22. You guys in America usually literally read the time if I’ve been told correctly? Like you’d say ‘Ten Twenty-Five’ for 10:25? In England we use the whole ‘quarter past’ and stuff which really confused a friend of mine from Michigan! But this whole ‘fünf nach halb drei’ is just totally bescheuert!

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    1. We Yanks say “quarter past” and “half-past” as well, but there aren’t any tricks beyond that. And yeah, I do think we tend to say the exact time, to the minute. When I think of these other, relative timeframes, I think of old guys. Like, old, old guys. :)

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  23. This made me laugh so much! I’m in B.1.2 and I still don’t know how to tell time. When someone asks me what time it is, I basically shrug and say, I don’t know – one of the viertels.

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  24. I just found your blog, I’ve been married to my (German) wife for 5 years now. We had the long distance relationship thing going on for a year before we got married. We lived back home in Maryland for a year before coming to this little village called Elsenfeld (near Frankfurt). But I really enjoy reading your blog.

    Everything your wife says in the Denglish parts are dead on with the type of things my wife said when we first got married (her English was pretty good, but she still talked like you say your wife does). Even now she still gets things wrong. We have a 4 year old Daughter and she always corrects my wife when she says something wrong in English.

    Also, reading through your blog I think “this is exactly how I have felt and what I have been thinking for the last 3 1/2 years”. The disappointment of no one caring i’m American, the shitty hair cuts, the assholes in line at lidl (well every where for that matter), and pretty much everything else you’ve written….I’ve thought the same. Did you notice Mcdonald’s here tastes like it was cooked last month and microwaved?

    I remember when I went to Deutsch Schule, the teacher spoke no English, I spoke no German. It was me, another American, 5 Thailand girls (I’m 98% sure they wanted our balls) and 20 turks. Me and the other American ended up being really good friends (he was in the Army, he lives about 3 hours away now). The teacher would let all the turks speak turkish the whole day, but me and my friend would help each other out in english and she ended up moving us across the room from each other. So we would just yell across the room.

    Anyway, The town I live on is in Bayern, but its only 10 minutes away from Hessen. I work at a tire changing company and I meet people from all over, I’ve never worked somewhere with so many dialects. Some days I only understand half of the customers, some days none of them. Some understand me (my German is shit) some don’t. What I really hate is trying to speak with someone for 20 minutes and knowing they don’t understand you….but they let you keep talking until the last 2 minutes, when all the sudden they can speak English. Sometimes I think they just like watching me suffer.

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    1. What an awesome comment! Thank you, William!

      Baw haw haw haw! The Thai girls, “wanted your balls.” That is solid gold right there. :)

      I haven’t eaten at a McDonald’s here yet, but I kind of suspected what you said.

      Man, and I thought MY German class was sometimes chaotic! Where did you take your class? At a VHS or something?

      I totally hear you; I’ve found a lot of folks here understand English just fine, but they really don’t want to use it. I think they’re embarrassed or something.

      I’m so glad you understand my experiences as an expat American in Germany. It really means a lot to me that you felt similarly. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Have an awesome day man!

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      1. I took my German class at “the city gallery”, its a mall in a town called Aschaffenburg…about 30 minutes from where I live.

        Its funny you wrote me back today on this blog (about the time). Today at work I was doing a wheel alignment on a customers car and I’m pretty sure I heard him say (on the phone with someone) “Ich Komme so um funf vor viertal nach halb vier”, I asked the guy that works with me if that’s what he just said, he told me he thinks so…..the whole day I’m thinking “why the hell didn’t he just say 3:40….and who the hell says :40, no one ever comes at :40, its an unspoken rule you have to be there at :45 or the earth will stop spinning or some shit.

        Almost all people here understand English and can speak some (except for other auslanders) but like you said, they are embarrassed to speak it. Hell I don’t care how bad their English is….it has to be better or at least as good as my German.

        But honestly you have to speak German fluently here to get a good job, I only have the one I have now because I’m an Auto mechanic in America and I brought my diploma and certificate of completion from the AutoTech school I went to. But my first (legal) job here was for a labor company…..some how the Germans made me a Mexican…I felt so dirty inside.

        By the way, what/how do you watch TV here? I watch on the internet, but i got tired of searching for shows or waiting for Justified and Sons of Anarchy to come back on, so I talked to my Grandmother, now I pay some of here cable bill and I can watch almost all channels on Comcast (just need to change my IP for the first minute, then I can turn off the IP thing). Just wanted to give you an Idea.

        Keep it up, I really enjoy reading your blog. Tell your wife thanks for the entertainment, you guys reminded me of what it was like when me and mine first got married….its cool thinking back on it now, thanks for that.

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      2. Haw haw! It’s :45 or the earth will stop spinning. :) I love it.

        Oh man, that line about being Mexican. Just killed me.

        I’ve heard about the IP address things. Like Hide My Ass and such. I haven’t tried them, but I am sorely tempted to since I was forced to use the German iTunes store. :(

        Thank you for the kind words of support, G0dsfather. I really appreciate it and I’ll pass them along to my wife.

        Have a fantastic day and please write us again soon!

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      3. Did you start learning about Der, Die or Das yet? or as I call it “The 417 pain in the ass, confusing, headache giving, pile of shit ways to say “The”.
        If your like me you will just give up and say “F it, everything is Die now”.

        Or Du and Sie, I hate that. Everyday at work when I’m talking to customers, the whole time in my head i’m saying “say sie, say sie, don’t be the “American asshole” everyone thinks you are…be polite you dickhead”.

        so I say “sie konnen this machen”, or “wollen sie das” and then, EVERY TIME right before they leave they say “Shone tag nach”…..and me “DU AUCH”…..shit shit shit, every time you F’ing asshole, just get it right.
        But normal they know I’m not from around here when I say that…..apparently its not “Sie auch” either….its one of the other 314 ways of saying “you”.

        By the way, I have a whole list of Denglish quotes between me and my wife but I have to go back to hell…I mean work now (lunch break). I’ll write them to you later.

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      4. Baw haw haw! That’s so great.

        When I first arrived in Germany, my wife and I were on the ubahn and I saw a little old lady standing up, so I offered her my seat by saying, “Magst du hier sitzen?” So, basically, I was like, “Hey… Hey YOU. Wanna sit here?”

        And By the way, your inner monologue is a LOT like mine.

        :)

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      5. This Polish girl came to my work today, she had a bad case of “buther face” and she had 5 coats of make-up…….. you ever see a girl with so much make-up you get this strange urge to write “wash me” in her face with your finger?

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    2. Help me out here; “my” Americans all complain that everybody starts speaking English with them, and they never get to practice their German… what’s the etiquette, now? I really don’t know what to do here.

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      1. I can’t speak for everyone, but when an American — or anyone who is obviously struggling to speak German — approaches you, try and play along. I’ve encountered a great many people here who do not want to screw around and help me learn German because they’re at work and they’re busy. Totally understandable. If someone really can’t speak German, they will probably switch into English anyway.

        Thank you for trying to help us though, Kantorka! I, for one, would really appreciate the effort.

        Have a great day!

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  25. This is simply hilarious… (at least that’s simple about it!) LOL
    The way you write it is making me laugh, even though by thinking about it I definitely have to agree… it’s science. *grin*
    I love this post!!!

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  26. ok, done with work, so here are the conversations be tween me and other Germans, my wife mainly. First my wife thinks adding “ey” after cuss words (bitchey, fuckey, assey….ect) make them nice or sweet or some shit. Also, my wife’s dad’s name is Jack and he lives in Germany (you’ll need that little piece of information later).

    About 2 months ago we all got sick, turns out we had salmonella (because apparently, Polish people don’t believe in cooking eggs and think its ok the leave the milk baking outside in the sun….sitting next to the grill that’s been hot for 2 hours….and the fire and charcoal type of grill too, those F’ers stay hot.)
    Me: so what the hell is wrong with us? did we get AIDS?
    Wife: No we go the magen darm.
    Me: What in the ever living F is “the magen darm”?
    Wife: the stomach and intesthongs….virus
    Me: the intesthongs virus huh? I think you mean intestines babe.
    Wife: well they are both stringy.

    We have Thanksgiving diner every year here and last year I was really busy (because my wife can’t cook American food for shit, well shes got the Mac n Cheese down) so I had her stuff the Turkey.
    Wife: I’m not sticking my hand up that birds assy.
    Me: Woman you’re a nurse, are you serious….I’m sure you’ve wiped your share of geezer asses, that’s not counting the fact that we have 3 kids….now violate that bird, hunny.
    Wife: I don’t want to, maybe it can feel it or someting.
    Me: Listen, there comes a time in every womans life, when she has to stuff the bird. Now put your big girl britches on, suck it up, quit your bitching and stuff the turkey…..ok there sugartits?
    Wife: what…what sucking it on…You suck it on, I’m not sucking it on nothing…..I don’t have sugar in my tits and I don’t know what big girl bridges are. You put on your big boy bridges and do it yourself dicky.
    Me: Sugartits is just a name….I didn’t mean it literally, and britches are what they called underwear back in the day.
    Wife: I don’t know what you want from me, you mean thongs?
    Me: no that would be skinny girl underwear, I said big girl unterhosen (for some reason I find that word hilarious)
    Wife: So you want me to wear thongs and rape that turkey….you’re a perverse.
    Me: Pervert babe, the word is pervert.
    Wife: what ever perverts
    Me: Pervert babe, I’m just one person, no need for the “s”

    Back in Maryland, we had to get our car inspected. My wife calls me while i’m up on a roof laying shingles (I was working construction with me sisters boyfriend at the time)
    Wife:Hey, the thing fell off.
    Me: That could apply to 14,000 things…at least…..what thing fell off of what?
    Wife: The thing on the car.
    Me: I’m still lost babe, what thing? describe it.
    Wife: its round.
    Me: Really that’s all I get.
    Wife: it spins too.
    Me: the steering wheel?
    Wife: yeah…wheel…that one.
    Me: What the hell did you do, how do you rip off a steering wheel? (I thought she really did too, like you said, German women are strong)
    Wife: I didn’t do nothing, whats a steering wheel.
    Me: I explain it
    Wife: no, not that. You have 4….now I only have 3.
    Me: You really mean a wheel, did you hit something….or someone?
    Wife: no it just feel off.
    so we talk alittle more and I come to help, but before I get there she has this conversation with someone walking down the road and tried to help.
    Guy: Do you have a jack?
    Wife: yeah I have a Jack but he’s in Germany…he can’t help us here.

    Today at work we had to take the restmull (the black one) out. We all joke around with each other and this is just how we talk….I’m not really a dick.
    Me not knowing the black trash pick up was tomorrow: Where should I take this
    Guy from work: Take it da ruber on the walk side.
    Me: what..why..what the F was that? Ok first, nice grammar asshole. Second, pick a language you dick, you’re giving me a headache and thirdly I think you mean sidewalk. Its sidewalk, just know like ….you walk on the side, wait…walk side…now I get it, but its one word….so…well shit, you must really hate English huh?

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      1. If I had time for it (a blog) I would, but its kind of hard to find time to do things…..my wife is sick (and still an asshole, actually I would say shes more of an asshole than normal. See my wife is completely backwards from normal women, I get the pleasure of have a wife that is a dick 3 weeks out of the month……then when “that time” come shes nice……lately it is never “that time”. Maybe if I kick her up the pee hole she will bleed a little and start being nice again.)

        But basically my day goes like this. My kids wake me up at 6:30 am (or as the germans would call it, 5 vor veirtel nach :02 plus 3 minuten mal (x) 4 nach halb 5 divided by 10). Then I get the kids ready for kindergarten where they will be unsupervised by teachers that arn’t worth a damn, they will fall, fight, bleed and try to murder each other for 6 hours. (what kind of fucking kindergarten (thats what they call day care here) is open at 8 (most days the teachers arn’t even there until 5 after) until 2pm….thats 6 hours….no one works 6 hours. Then I go to work where I am technically a mexican. Than I come home, cook, clean, get the kids ready for bed….then I lay down and wait for them to all come in my bed and terrorize me until 6:30am. Then do it again…….I really need a life….and a friend.

        and I noticed our monologues are a LOT like, that’s what got me so interested in your blog. I had to read the whole thing in 1 night. Thinking “holy shit, I’m not alone”

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      2. I love your comments. But seriously, if you’ve got time to bust out this kind of humor on my blog, why not make a super fast WordPress blog and dump it all there? I’d totally read it! And so would a lot of other people.

        But hey, if you want to keep dropping these gems in our comment section, awesome! Keep it up!

        Man, you need a little Mexican vacation. :)

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  27. haha, 3 more weeks and I’ll be back in the land of normal people…..but only for 22 days.

    Maybe I’ll start a blog, but I think a lot of people don’t have the sense of humor it takes to get me. They will think i’m just being a dick, then it will turn into an argument and some little cry baby is going to get their feelings hurt, then they will tell their friends about me and how i’m such a dick and they will start protesting, then my fans will jump in and kick hippy asses. Then it will turn into a war between men and …well pussies like France…then the world will end. You don’t want the world to end do you?.
    Me blogging = end of world.

    But what the hell, i’ll do it anyway. Now I just need to figure out how the hell I start.

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    1. I am absolutely okay with the world coming to an end as a result of your future blog.

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  28. This was a hilarious read! Thank you, it’s nice to know I’m not the only English speaking expat trying to work my way through this maze of a language. My trick with timing is just to echo the time in the simplest form back to the German giving it to me. Then they either confirm or restate the time in the way I understand.
    Good luck with learning German and finding lots of Germans to practice with!

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  29. OMG! I HATE the german clock system :’D I have grown up here and still confuse the quarters. Usually, I know when they say viertel nach or viertel vor. But I hate when they say Dreiviertel 4 or Viertel 4. I think they don’t teach you this at the language course because it is colloquial language, so I am sorry that I can’t tell you what these mean now, because I still don’t know myself :’D But I wish you good luck with your german course :)

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  30. I’m down in BW and I see nothing confusing about ‘halb drei’ etc. In English, you say something like half PAST two pm to convey the same time. You don’t say ‘half 2’ or ‘half 3’. That little ‘past’ there is important, and is missing in the German version. So taken at face value, it makes complete sense. You just assume it has to mean the same thing because both phrases include the word ‘half’.

    Russian does the ‘halb drei’ thing too. It also can use things like ‘quarter of three’ to mean 2:15, etc.

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  31. Hi OGM, you are wondering about this german “little insanity”, but you yet don’t know the swiss-german expressions…if the german are insane the swiss-german are “the end of the world” :)…try to pronounce this “Chuchichästli”…enjoy. Ciao.

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  32. Just wait, the day will come when you have it all figured out and you’ll meet one of the people who is unintentionally deliberately confusing… Not to be rude, for personal entertainment, or as a prank, or any particular reason other than they played that game a little too long and don’t know how to stop. I call them the “Falsch-verstanden Volk” They end every question-statement in “Oder!?” half ask you and themselves a statement simultaneously and if you agree too fast, they think they might have possibly told you the right thing the wrong way and say “nein, du hast falsch verstanden! Oder?” or “du verstehst mich falsch! Oder?” They have some serious issues with time, hilarious, confusing, annoying, delightful, infuriating people that they are. I think they made Denken-Sport too long with rhyming and rätsel spiel and one day just got stuck in that mode.

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