While a native speaker of English, I feel like my English has been affected by living in Germany for 3 years. English phrasing that used to sound awkward or wrong to me when I first moved to Germany doesn't strike me as different anymore. One example is the use of "already". I remember being surprised and confused about how my German friends used "already" much more frequently and in other contexts than time.

I just remarked "Spring would already be better" to my friend when she said "She can't wait for summer". And then I paused and considered whether the old-pre-German-influence-me would have said it like that.

Would you say it is correct phrasing?

1 Answer 1


Yes, your English has been been affected by German—and by a German you have to some degree misunderstood!

Spring would already be better.

That's not idiomatic English; it's a 'literal' translation of something German like

Frühling wäre noch besser.

German uses words like noch, doch, ja, mal very generously not as semantic adverbs but as "discourse particles": words which mark the role of the speaker and her utterance in the ongoing conversation. For instance, adverbial noch can in some circumstances be translated as 'already', but in the sentence above it might, depending on the context, be more accurately translated as even or nonetheless—or omitted entirely.

  • I wonder. When I read ag14, I immediately thought of Yiddish English, as spoken, for example, by jewish New Yorkers. Even now that few speak Yiddish, much less understand a word of German, many pepper their discourse with the word ‘already’. “You’ve been on at me all day about your darned dog. Enough already!”. Indeed the speech habit has spread to the wider population, along with words like ‘schmuk’.
    – Tuffy
    Dec 14, 2017 at 16:11
  • To be fair though, I don't speak German myself. I have a lot of German friends who speak to me in English. Their English is, of course, heavily influenced by their native tongue.
    – ag14
    Dec 14, 2017 at 18:46
  • @Tuffy Yiddish is of course a dialect of German, and the New York Jewish 'already' takes its origin from precisely the translation of noch*/*nokh which OP is using. Dec 14, 2017 at 19:30
  • @StoneyB Yes, exactly so.
    – Tuffy
    Dec 14, 2017 at 23:40

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