What does the word do


Words on a house wall in Dresden, Saxony. Some words are similar, such as "will" and "still". That makes a rhyme.

A word is part of a language. You can separate the word from other words: when you write down a sentence, you leave a space between the words. When speaking, there is no pause between words, only between longer parts of the sentence. Recognizing the individual words is very difficult for many elementary school students.

Every word has a meaning. Whoever says “table” means a different thing than when he says “chair”. Many words have multiple meanings. They say: They are ambiguous, such as the word “shell”. There can be fruits in a bowl, but you can also peel the bowl off the fruit. In the game “Teekesselchen”, for example, you have to guess ambiguous words.

“Word” means “verbum” in Latin. This appears in many foreign words related to language. “Verbal” means, for example, that something is said with words.

What are parts of speech?

Words are divided into different groups. In elementary school this is important for upper and lower case letters. Those who learn a foreign language also have to be familiar with parts of speech, or those who think about grammar.

There are two groups of parts of speech. One group gathers around the noun, the other group around the verb. There are a total of ten parts of speech. However, this fine subdivision is only taught in the higher school levels.

Nouns are for example "Annemarie", "Computer" and "Spain". Such words are capitalized in German. A noun is used to refer to a person, an animal, a thing, an event, a feeling and many other things.

Nouns can be described more precisely with an adjective: “the new computer” or “the best football players”. Sometimes you need a preposition: "on the bed", "in front of the door" and others. You can also replace nouns with pronouns: "The gardener cuts the hedge" means, in short: "He cuts the hedge". However, this is only possible if it is clear who is meant by "he".

The second group of parts of speech cluster around the verbs: “run”, “sleep”, “live” or “think” are examples. A verb can be described more precisely with an adverb: "She runs fast", "he sleeps deeply", "he lives longer" are examples of this.

What remains are three types of words, which are often simply combined into a “residual group” in elementary school. There are connecting words like “and”, numerals like “three, five, seven” and exclamation words like “Help!”. In Latin they are called conjunction, numerals and interjection.

How many words are there?

This picture is from 1952. People are working on the German dictionary. To do this, they have to read a lot of books in which they can find more words.
The oldest newspaper from Luxembourg that still exists today: It is called the “Luxemburger Wort”.

Most children can speak quite well by the age of three. Then they know about 300 to 400 words. Adults know several thousand words. This is a good way to get through everyday life. When you learn a foreign language, a thousand or two thousand words are enough to understand most of it.

Some people are particularly good at their language, such as writers and journalists. The famous German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is said to have known 90,000 words. In any case, there are so many different words in his works.

However, it is not easy to count words. A word can appear in different ways: The word "house" is also in the plural and then means "houses". Linguists only count this as a word. The technical term is called "Lexeme". House, houses, of the house, in the house and so on can be counted as different words, but it is just a lexeme. Namely, “house” and “of the house” mean the same thing. The only difference is how the words appear in the sentence.

It is also difficult to say how many words the German language has. There are around 30,000 words in smaller dictionaries. The Duden for spelling has 125,000 keywords. Particularly good, thick dictionaries have several hundred thousand words.

The Brothers Grimm started a dictionary that was supposed to record all words in the German language. This should also include words from the past, i.e. words that are no longer used today. Linguists have been working on this German dictionary for over 120 years. There are now around 450,000 words in it.

However, you can also use a foreign word in a language. For example, some people like to say “easy” in German when something is easy. If many people use such words, you have to know them too. There are also technical terms, the words that certain craftsmen or scientists use. "Blood circulation" is a medical term.

You can also create new words from words. “Rolling” and “shoe” become “roller skate”. It's not just any shoe that somehow has something to do with "roles". What is meant is a certain type of shoe, so it is a new word with a meaning of its own. This makes the number of possible words more or less infinite.

Is the plural "words" or "words"?

The plural of word is words. But there is also another plural form: words. You use them when you don't really mean individual words, but rather the statement behind them. When it says: “I liked your words”, then one thinks more of the speech as a whole.

In addition, "words" are often found in proverbs or established idioms: "She doesn't make a lot of words" means that she doesn't talk a lot, but acts quickly. “Those are big words” is what they say about someone who makes a lot of promises.