How Do You Say Black in German? A Quick Guide.

How Do You Say Black in German? A Quick Guide.

 

Learning colors in German isn’t too difficult because a lot of German color words are similar to their English counterparts, such as blau for blue, grün for green, or grau for grey. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. One of them is the German name for black.

Learning how to say black in German will help you expand your vocabulary as it is part of many expressions, idioms, and compound words.

 

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How Do You Say Black in German?

 

The standard translation is schwarz. It is pronounced [ʃvaʁt͡s] in the IPA transcription. It is an adjective, so you need to use appropriate endings. Let’s take a look at a quick overview of the respective forms of schwarz in all cases and genders.

 

Masculine Singular

 

(EN: the/a black table)

Definite Article

Indefinite Article

Nominative

der schwarze Tisch

ein schwarzer Tisch

Genitive

des schwarzen Tisches

eines schwarzen Tisches

Dative

dem schwarzen Tisch

einem schwarzen Tisch

Accusative

den schwarzen Tisch

einen schwarzen Tisch

 

Feminine Singular

 

(EN: the/a black bag)

Definite Article

Indefinite Article

Nominative

die schwarze Tasche

eine schwarze Tasche

Genitive

der schwarzen Tasche

einer schwarzen Tasche

Dative

der schwarzen Tasche

einer schwarzen Tasche

Accusative

die schwarze Tasche

eine schwarze Tasche

 

Neuter Singular

 

(EN: the/a black car)

Definite Article

Indefinite Article

Nominative

das schwarze Auto

ein schwarzes Auto

Genitive

des schwarzen Autos

eines schwarzen Auto

Dative

dem schwarzen Auto

einem schwarzen Auto

Accusative

das schwarze Auto

ein schwarze Auto

 

Plural

 

(EN: the/- black shirts)

Definite Article

No Article

Nominative

die schwarzen Hemden

schwarze Hemden

Genitive

der schwarzen Hemden

schwarzer Hemden

Dative

den schwarzen Hemden

schwarzen Hemden

Accusative

die schwarzen Hemden

schwarze Hemden

 

The other possible translations of black into German are dunkel, which also means dark, or schmutzig, which also means dirty. Below are some example sentences.

 

  • Trinken Sie schwarzen Kaffee? – Do you drink black coffee?
  • Ich wachte in der dunklen Nacht auf. – I woke up into the black night.

 

Other Meanings of Schwarz in English

 

We have mentioned above what the most common translation is. However, it can also mean, for example, illicit, sinister, or gloomy. Below are some example sentences that show you various meanings of schwarz in German.

 

  • Schwarzarbeit sollte nicht als Bagatelldelikt gesehen werden. – Illegal work shouldn’t be seen as a minor offence.
  • Schwarzfahrer riskieren eine Geldstrafe. – Fare dodgers risk a fine.
  • Alle werden deine schwarzen Taten verurteilen. – Everybody will condemn your sinister deeds.

 

Common Expression with Black in German

 

Various color-related expressions are used in everyday situations in most languages. German is no different. Let’s take a look at the most common ones mentioning the color black.

 

  1. Hier steht es schwarz auf weiß. – It is written here in cold print. 
  2. Er hat ins Schwarze getroffen. – He hit the mark. (Ins Schwarze treffen can also mean “to hit home.”)
  3. Du stehst auf der schwarzen Liste. – You have been blacklisted.
  4. Du kannst hier warten, bis du schwarz bist. – You can wait here till hell freezes over.
  5. Mir wurde schwarz vor den Augen. – I passed out. (Another possible translation is “I blacked out.” Or “I felt dizzy.”)
  6. Selbst die Schwarzmaler können das nicht bestreiten. – Even the doomsayers can’t argue with that. (Der Schwarzmaler is a German name for a pessimist.)
  7. Jeder hat ein schwarzes Schaf in der Familie. – Everyone has a black sheep in the family.
  8. Sie sehen alles durch die schwarzen Brille. – You take a gloomy view of everything. (The opposite is alles durch die rosa Brille sehen – to see everything through rose-colored glasses.)

 

Common Expressions with Black in English and Their German Translations

 

  • Black as night = schwarz wie die Nacht (Both languages use the same expression in the meaning of “very dark.”)
  • He was beaten black and blue. = Er wurde grün und blau geschlagen. (The German language uses the colors green and blue to say that someone is badly bruised.)
  • I blacked out before I could do anything about it. = Ich wurde ohnmächtig, bevor ich etwas tun konnte.
  • We are in the black again. = Wir sind wieder in den schwarzen Zahlen. (You can also translate “in the black” as in der Gewinnzone.)
  • Don’t forget it’s black tie. = Vergiss nicht, Abendgarderobe.

 

Black tie literally means schwarze Fliege. A tuxedo is der Smoking in German. The black tie dress code also translates as Kleiner Gesellschaftanzug or (die) Abendgarderobe.

 

Compound Words Related to the Color Black in German

 

We have already come across several compound words, such as

 

  • (die) Schwarzarbeit – illegal work
  • (der) Schwarzmaler – pessimist
  • (der) Schwarzfahrer – fare dodger

 

Let’s take a look at some more examples with black-related compound words:

 

  • schwarzweiß – black and white or monochrome (Es ist nicht immer alles schwarzweiß. – Things are not always black and white.)
  • (der) Schwarzmarkt – black market (Ich habe gehört, dass du Sachen auf dem Schwarzmarkt kaufst. – I’ve heard you buy things on the black market.)
  • (der) Schwarzpulver ­– gunpowder (Später wurde auch Schwarzpulver als Sprengstoff benutzt – Gunpowder was later used as an explosive as well.)
  • Kohlrabenschwarz or pechschwarz – jet-black or pitch-dark (Die Luft ist kalt, der Himmel pechschwarz. – The air is cold; the sky is pitch-black.)

 

Other Colors in German

 

Let’s sum up how to translate the most common colors into the German language.

 

weiß

white

[vaɪs]

gelb

yellow

[ɡɛlp]

rot

red

[roːt]

grün

green

[ɡʁyːn]

blau

blue

[blaw]

braun

brown

[bʁaʊ̯n]

orange

orange

[oˈʁaŋʃ]

grau

grey

[ɡʁaʊ̯]

rosa

pink

[ˈʁoːza]

violett

purple

[ˌviːoˈlɛt]

 

Color-Related Expressions in German

 

There are several common expressions that contain a color in German but do not mean the same in English.

 

  1. Blau (blue) = drunk (colloquial) – Ich war blau, deshalb erinnere mich nicht daran. – I was drunk, so I don’t remember it.
  2. Gelb vor Neid (yellow) = green with envy – Sie war gelb vor Neid, als sie es gesehen hat. – She was green with envy when she saw it.
  3. Grün und blau (green and blue) = black and blue – Er wurde grün und blau geschlagen. – He was beaten black and blue.

 

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Conclusion

 

Now you have it schwarz auf weiß that learning how to say black in German is a piece of cake. After all that hard work, you certainly deserve a sip of Schwarzbier (black beer)! If you have any questions or suggestions, let us know!

 


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