How to Say Down in German; We Have Written Down the Essentials!
Don’t ever feel down about the complexity of the German language. In our free articles, we focus on problematic words and phrases and show you their usage in context. Today, we will look into how to say down in German.
Feeling down? Up and down? Just sit down and read today’s article. You can write down notes!
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How to Say Down in German
The most universal definition of “down” in English is “towards or at a lower position or place.” It is also part of countless phrasal verbs. It is a preposition in phrases, such as “down the stairs” or an adjective in “feeling down, a down train, and suchlike.”
You might have already guessed that there isn’t just one possible translation of down into German. A lot of factors must be taken into consideration when deciding how to translate it correctly.
Down in German in the Meaning of “At a Low(er) Position”
If you want to say that something is located at a low (or lower) position, you can use unten in German. It is pronounced [ˈʊntn̩] in the IPA transcription. It also means “below, downstairs, or at the bottom.”
Let’s take a look at some example sentences.
- Ich möchte vielleicht eine Wohnung hier unten kaufen. – I may want to buy an apartment down here.
- Mehrere Informationen finden Sie unten. – For more information please see below.
- Normalerweise essen wir unten. – Normally, we eat downstairs.
Difference between Unten and Unter
It is easy to confuse unten and unter. The main difference is that unten is an adverb, and unter is mostly a preposition. Below are some examples with unter.
- Ich würde lieber unter einer Brücke schlafen. – I’d rather sleep under a bridge.
- Der Koeffizient muss unter 30 % liegen. – The coefficient must be below 30%.
- Unter uns muss ein Spion sein. – There must be a spy among us.
Down in German When Moving Towards a Lower Position
When you want to specify that something is moving towards a low or a lower place, you can choose from several possible translations into German. There is often only a small difference between them.
One of the easily confused word pairs is hinunter and herunter.
Difference Between Hinunter and Herunter
It should be kept in mind that the prefix hin- implies a movement away from the speaker while her- implies a movement towards the speaker.
So, both hinunter and herunter mean down(wards). However, you can see the slight difference in meaning in the following example sentences.
- Bitte kommen Sie herunter. – Please come down here. (The speaker is downstairs, and another person goes to him.)
- Bitte geh hinunter. – Please go down there. (The speaker is not downstairs. The other person moves away from the speaker.)
- Ich lade mich oft Filme herunter. – I often download movies. (Herunter is also part of various verbs, such as herunterladen – to download.)
If you are not sure whether to choose hinunter or herunter, you can opt for runter, which can mean both. However, it is colloquial and thus not appropriate in a formal context.
- Darum schickten sie mich hier runter. – That’s why they’ve sent me down here. (=herunter)
- Geh runter und hilf deiner Mutter. – Go down and help your mother. (=hinunter)
Meaning of “nach unten”
As with hinunter and herunter, nach unten also means a direction (=downward). Don’t forget that a simple unten implies a location (at a place and not to a place).
- Wir sind sofort nach unten gelaufen. – We immediately ran downstairs. (Nach unten does not differentiate between movement from or towards the speaker.)
- Das Licht ist größtenteils nach unten gerichtet. – The major part of the light is directed downward.
How to Translate Abwärts
Abwärts is a synonym of nach unten. Let’s take a look at an example sentence.
- Es bewegt sich aufwärts und abwärts. – It is moving up and down.
You can see that the opposite of abwärts is aufwärts, which means up(wards). The opposite of nach unten is nach oben (= to the top, upward, or upstairs).
- Wie kommt man nach oben auf den Berg? – How can we get to the top of the mountain?
Other Meanings of Down in German
- Down can mean “out of order” in English. The German translation of “out of order” is außer Betreib. As in Der Aufzug ist außer Betrieb. – The elevator is out of order.
- If someone feels down, they are unhappy or depressed. In German, you can say deprimiert. Germans even use the English version “down” in the meaning of tired or depressed.
Below are some example sentences to show you this usage in context.
- Seit dem Unfall war er ziemlich deprimiert. – He has been pretty down since the accident.
- Du bist ein bisschen down zur Zeit. – You have been kind of down lately.
- Down in the meaning of “along” means entlang in German. As in Langsam ging ich den Flur entlang. – I went slowly down the hall. If the noun precedes the preposition, use the accusative case. If entlang precedes the noun, use the genitive case.
- The dog command “Down!” translates as Platz! (Der) Platz literally means “place.”
Down in Phrasal Verbs
Down is part of various phrasal verbs in English. Let’s take a look at some of them and their translations into German.
- To sit down – sich (hin)setzen
Vielleicht sollten Sie sich kurz setzen. – Maybe you should sit down for a second.
Hier kann man sich nirgendwo hinsetzen. – There is no place to sit down here.
- To break down – (zusammen)brechen
Früher oder später wird er zusammenbrechen. – He will break down sooner or later.
- To calm down – (sich) beruhigen
Versuchen Sie sich zu beruhigen. – Try to calm down.
- To slow down – verlangsamen, bremsen
Diese Eigenschaften bremsen das System. – These qualities slow the system down.
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As you can see, it is fairly complicated to translate down into German. The most important word pair is unten (= at a lower position) and nach unten (to a lower position). Try to read in German as much as you can, and soon, translating down correctly will be a piece of cake!
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