Shining and seeming in the German language

Our word today is “scheinen”, which means both “to shine” (as in, what the sun does) and “to seem” (as in, to give the impression of being something). Similarly, “to appear”, in the sense of suddenly being somewhere, is “erscheinen”, and “Schein” (m.) means “appearance” as well as “glow”, “shine” or “gleam”. Of course, “Schein” (m.) can also mean “ticket”, “bill” or “certificate”. The English word “seemingly” (or “apparently”) is “scheinbar” in German:

– “Die Sonne scheint endlich wieder.” – “Finally, the sun is shining again.”
– “Der Sonnenschein tut gut.” – essentially “The sunshine feels good.”
– “Er scheint heute krank zu sein.” – “He seems to be sick today.”
– “Es scheint nicht zu funktionieren.” – “It does not seem to be working.”
– “Er ist 15 Minuten später erschienen.” – “He showed up/appeared 15 minutes later.”
– “Die Sonne ist wieder erschienen.” – “The sun appeared again.”
– “Der Schein trügt.” – essentially “Appearances are deceptive.”
– “Hast du einen Kfz-Schein?” – “Do you have a motor vehicle certificate?”
– “Scheinbar hat er alles aufgegessen.” – “Apparently he’s eaten everything.”

Nouns and adjectives that start with “Schein-” usually mean that what follows is not true, but appears to be true (at least on paper), such as “scheintot” (“seemingly dead”) or “Scheinselbständigkeit” (“false/ficticious self-employment”).

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