Particles

What are Particles?

It's hard to describe exactly what a particle is. The easiest way is to say that they are words that can't be classified as prepositions, adverbs, conjunctions, or any other part of speech.

Characteristics of Particles

  • They can't be the answer to a question.
  • They make the language more "lively," can make an entire sentence negative or positive, and show feelings.
  • They are used most often in spoken language.
  • You can always leave them out.

Types of Particles

Here are the different kinds of particles in German:

  • Intensifying Particles
  • Focus Particles
  • Negating Particles
  • Modal Particles
  • Speech Particles
  • Interjections
  • Onomatopoeia 

Intensifying Particles

Intensifying particles express how extreme something is. They always come before the adjective or adverb they are strengthening or weakening.

The Most Important Intensifying Particles: absolutaußerordentlichaußergewöhnlichäußersteinigermaßenenormetwasextremganzhöchstkaumkomplettrechtsehrtotalüberausungemeinungewöhnlichvölligweitziemlichzu

Examples:

  • „Der Fernseher ist total teuer.“ 
  • „Die Situation ist mir höchst unangenehm.“
  • „Deine Reaktion ist völlig übertrieben.“
  • „Warum bist du heute so überaus nett zu mir?“
  • „Das finde ich ziemlich bescheuert.“
  • „Du bist heute extrem gut drauf!“

Modal Particles

Modal particles are used especially often in spoken language and show the feelings and mood of the speaker.

They can have very different meanings.

Examples:

  • „Das musste ja passieren.“
  • „Was kommt heute eigentlich im Fernsehen?“
  • „Was hast du denn gemacht?“
  • „Vielleicht holen wir doch lieber einen Elektriker?“
  • „Komm mal hier her!“

It can be quite difficult to use them correctly, so I made an extra lesson focusing just on modal particlesIn that lesson I go deeper into what they mean and how they are used.

Recommendation: Modal Particles

Modal Particles are extremely difficult to understand and even more difficult to use yourself. In the Modal Particle lesson, I will therefore try to go a little deeper into this.

Focus Particles

Focus particles emphasize or highlight something important. Some imply a strong emphasis, while others express less of an emphasis. They are related to a specific part of the sentence and normally come before the part that is to be highlighted.

The Most Important Focus Particles: wenig, etwas, einigermaßen, fast, ziemlich, so, sehr, vor allem, sogar, ausgesprochen, besonders, ungemein, überaus, äußerst, zutiefst, höchst, zu

Examples:

  • Die Show war toll. Mir haben besonders die Lichteffekte gefallen.“
  • Mir gefällt die Wohnung nicht. Vor allem das Bad ist zu klein.“
  • Was, du hast kein Facebook? Sogar meine 80-jährige Oma ist bei Facebook!“

Negating Particles

The negation word "nicht" is a particle.

  • „Ich fahre heute nicht zu Oma“

Speech Particles

Speech particles are calls, answers, greetings.

Examples: ja, nein, hm, gern, okay, gut, genau, richtig, …

Interjections

Interjections express a state of mind.

Examples: oh, he!, schade!, pfui!, hurra!, igitt!, juhu!, au!, aua!, autsch! uh!, ah!, ach!, huch!, oho!, hoppla!, oje!, hm!, hihi!, ätsch!, hui!, puh!, uff!, pff!, phh! hü!, hott!, …

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Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia are words that sound like the sounds and noises they represent. They are often found in comics.

Examples: kikeriki, wau, wuff, miau, quak, peng, bumm, boing, tatütata, ticktack; plumps, klirr, schwupps, zack, ruckzuck, puff, dong, klong, ratsch, hui, bums, rums, fump, blub-blub, schnipp, hatschi, …

Achtung Hinweis Partikel

Attention:

In the technical language „der Partikel/die Partikel" describes tiny little particles and the grammatical term is „die Partikel/die Partikeln". Since even most teachers do not use this version and and everyone who has not studied linguistics or German studies would probably chalk this up as wrong (although it is correct), I also deliberately stick here to the variant that is also used. Even if it should be called according to Duden in the plural „Partikeln”.

Related Topic:

Particles should not be confused with Prepositions, Adjectives or Adverbs.
Modal Particles are very special, so there is an extra lesson just on Modal Particles.

Other lessons on Adverbs include are:

You can find an overview of all topics under German Grammar.

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