Why some Germans are breezy draft-dodgers

Good to Know: “Es zieht” – There’s magic in the air in Germany, and if that air happens to be coming through your room from the outside, it can magically make you very ill!

The German expression “Es zieht” (literally “it pulls”) expresses, on the surface of things, that there is a draft (Br. Eng. “draught” – related to the word “drag”) in the room. What’s much more important is what the speaker is implying, namely all of the following:

a) “It is drafty.”
b) “I strongly believe that the fact that I am experiencing the sensation of wind indoors will make me sick even though there is no rational basis for my belief.”
c) “Close the window! It doesn’t matter how hot it is!”

Thankfully, this phenomenon is not quite as common in Berlin as in other regions, and is usually restricted to members of an older generation. Also, to be fair, it is not a uniquely German superstition that an indoor breeze can cause a cold, pain in neck, back and joints, infections of the eye lining as well as bladder infections (even though an outdoor breeze is perfectly fine and pleasant). It is common in many places in Eastern and Southeastern Europe to insist on shutting all the windows in steaming hot buses and to wear several protective layers of clothing to prevent some serious (albeit psychosomatic) harm.

Do you have what it takes to be an expat in Germany?

  • Getting Started & Finding A Flat
  • Childcare in Berlin
  • Freelancing in Germany
  • Getting your Freelance Work Permit
  • Getting Your Freelance Artist visa
  • Finding a Job in Germany
  • How german grammar works

How German Grammar Works

1. Actions with "what"

2. Actions without "what"

3. Can these overlap?

4. What are subjects and objects?

5. How do subjects and objects differ in English?

6. How do subjects and objects look in German?

7. Who loves whom and how genders help

8. Intro to nominative and accusative cases

9. Prepositions and how they tie into all this

10. Summary of everything so far

11. What does the dative case look like?

12. Almost all prepositions and what they trigger

13. How movement and location tie into the cases

14. The difference between movement and location

15. How do you say 'to put' in German?

16. What's allowed in a German sentence?

17. How do adjectives behave in this system?

18. Excellent examples for adjective declension

19. Other articles and how they behave in German

20. A more natural way to get endings right

21. How do reflexive verbs work in German?

22. How verbs with prepositions work fit into this

23. (Briefly) How does the genitive case work?

24. The cases summarized in three simple rules

25. How sentence structure differs from English

26. Questions, commands, statements in German

27. Where everything goes in a German sentence

28. Der, die, and das: Tricks to guess genders better

29. Conclusions

Downloadable Resources:

(PDF) Prepositions and Cases – A handy diagram of German prepositions (with translations) and which case they effect.

(PDF) Prepositions of Movement and Location – An illustration of what kind of movement is expressed with which prepositions and their cases

(PDF) Articles and Adjective Declination – Example sentences to learn in order to get a feeling for the connections, as well as a useful declination table

(PDF) Articles and Adjective Declination – A comprehensive list of articles and which way the following adjectives will end

(PDF) Case Rules – A brief review of what causes which cases

(PDF) Sentence Structure – An illustration of where verbs are located in the different clauses in German

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