What can the new single “Deutschland” by Rammstein teach you about German grammar? That’s right. I’m jumping onto the bandwagon. Sure I’m a week or two behind, but you all seem to be interested in it, so I guess I will address it. Rammstein dropped a new single for the first time in 10 years and are planning on one last album before they retire. After 30 years of Rammstein, the era of heavy hitting German rock is coming to an end… Ok. Not really. There are plenty of other German rock bands out there that will and have been filling in the vacuum that Rammstein left when they decided not to make another album between 2009’s “Liebe ist für alle da” and the yet to be named album that is set to come out later this year.
That being said, I am not going to simply copy what others have done. That would be dumb and lazy. Besides that I think VlogDave has done an excellent job looking at the lyrics and showing you what the song and video are about and showing it to you in cultural context. While I find those videos and the analysis of the lyrics interesting and I loved his videos about this, I’m going to take this in a different direction.
Herr Antrim is a nerd.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a bit of a German grammar nerd. I find it entertaining to dissect the grammar in a sentence, phrase, paragraph or song. Today I’m going to go through the lyrics with a fine-toothed comb and show you what Deutschland by Rammstein can teach you about German grammar. Some of the things will be pretty basic like personal pronouns and conjugation, but others will be more in-depth.
If you are looking for an extra way to practice German through this song, I have created a worksheet to help you better understand the grammar in Deutschland by Rammstein. Click here to download it.
Deutschland by Rammstein Lyrics
Du (du hast, du hast, du hast, du hast)
You (you have, you have, you have, you have)
If you didn’t already know it, the pronoun “du” translates as “you” and is used to talk directly to one person with whom you are familiar. It is also used with young children and animals.
This first line is likely meant to evoke memories of one of Rammstein’s most famous songs “Du hast” from the album “Sehnsucht“, but simply translates as “you have”. It is the start of the Perfekt tense in German. This is our first lesson in Rammstein Deutschland grammar. This tense uses “haben” or “sein” as a helping verb, which is what is happening here and also happens in the song “Du hast”. This is also the only form of “haben” in the entire song, so it isn’t much help for the rest of the conjugation of the verb.
das Perfekt – Present Perfect
Hast viel geweint (geweint, geweint, geweint, geweint)
have cried a lot (cried, cried, cried, cried)
The second line finishes the Perfekt tense clause with the past participle “geweint”, which brings our overall meaning to “you have cried a lot”. This shows us an excellent example of a regular verb in the Perfekt tense, as it starts with ge- and ends with -t. It also serves as a reminder that the past participle (the ge- version of the verb) goes at the end of the clause.
Im Geist getrennt (getrennt, getrennt, getrennt, getrennt)
Split in the mind/spirit (split, split, split, split)
In this line we get another regular Perfekt tense past participle, getrennt. We also see a two-way preposition also known as a Wechselpräposition used in the dative case, because it shows static location “im Geist”. It is sort of a combination of “in” and “dem”.
Im Herz vereint (vereint, vereint, vereint, vereint)
United in the heart (united, united, united, united)
Now we have a juxtaposition of with the opposite verbs “vereinen” and “getrennt” and the nouns “Geist” and “Herz”. We are still using the Perfekt tense, which in this line does not have ge- at the beginning, because ver- is an inseparable prefix. The dative case is also still used with the preposition “in”, because we are still describing a static location.
Präsens vs Present Perfect Progressive
Wir (wir sind, wir sind, wir sind, wir sind)
We (we have, we have, we have, we have)
Sind schon sehr lang zusammen (ihr seid, ihr seid, ihr seid, ihr seid)
Have been together so long (you have, you have, you have, you have)
I combined these two lines, because without the second line, you wouldn’t be able to understand why I translated “sind” and “seid” as “have” even though they are both forms of the verb “sein”, which means “to be”. This is due to an annoying little grammar thing in English called the present perfect progressive. This is the second main lesson in Rammstein Deutschland grammar. It describes an action that started in the past and continues into the present. It is often possible that this action continues into the future, too. In German this is expressed through the present tense and is highlighted by the words “schon sehr lang”, which means “already so long”.
The present tense in German simply states that something is still going on at the moment. The additional information that is expressed in English through the present perfect progressive tense is expressed in the three words “schon sehr lang” in German, which tells us when the action started.
Kalt und Heiß
Dein Atem kalt (so kalt, so kalt, so kalt, so kalt)
Your breath cold (so cold, so cold, so cold)
Das Herz in Flammen (so heiß, so heiß, so heiß, so heiß)
The heart in flames (so hot, so hot, so hot, so hot)
These two lines are another juxtaposition, this time the words “kalt” and “heiß”. While this is great for building basic vocabulary, there isn’t much to talk about grammatically. There is another two-way preposition used with the dative case, “in Flammen”, although in this phrase it isn’t important that it is dative. In English we can use the same preposition “in” to say something is “in flames”, but it is more common to say “on fire”. The verb that is omitted here is also different in German. In English we say something “is” on fire with the verb “to be”, but in German you say “steht in Flammen” indicating that it “stands” in flames.
Conjugation of “können”
Du (du kannst, du kannst, du kannst, du kannst)
You (you can, you can, you can, you can)
This line is the first of several times that Rammstein teaches us the grammar of modal auxiliaries in the song Deutschland. This line is incredibly simple, but at least it shows you the “du” form of “können”, the modal auxiliary that means “can” or “to be able to” in English. There isn’t a secondary verb in this sentence, so it is left up to the listener to decide what it is that “you can”. While we are on the topic of “können”, it is a good time to remind you that the rest of the conjugation of this verb looks like this.
ich kann – I can
du kannst – you can
er, sie, es kann – he, she, it can
wir können – we can
ihr könnt – you can
sie, Sie können – they, you can
Conjugation of “wissen”
Ich (ich weiß, ich weiß, ich weiß, ich weiß)
I (I know, I know, I know, I know)
Another simple line, this one shows us the “ich” form of the verb “wissen”, which is another strangely conjugated verb. It sort of acts like a modal auxiliary in its conjugation, as the singular forms are all irregular and the “ich” and “er, sie, es” forms are the same. That being said, it cannot be used as an auxiliary, meaning that is is used as a verb on its own as opposed to being used with another one. The full conjugation looks like this.
ich weiß – I know
du weißt – you know
er, sie, es weiß – he, she, it knows
wir wissen – we know
ihr wisst – you know
sie, Sie wissen – they, you know
Conjugation of “sein”
Wir (wir sind, wir sind, wir sind, wir sind)
We (we are, we are, we are, we are)
This line is very similar to the other one that said “wir sind”, but this time we don’t know if the rest of the sentence is going to force us to use the present perfect progressive in English or not, so I chose to use the normal translation of “sein” as “to be”, therefore “we are”. If you are curious about the rest of the conjugation of this verb, some of the forms show up later in this song, but for now, here is the full conjugation.
ich bin – I am
du bist – you are
er, sie, es ist – he, she, it is
wir sind – we are
ihr seid – you are
sie, Sie sind – they, you are
bleiben – to remain, stay
Ihr (ihr bleibt, ihr bleibt, ihr bleibt, ihr bleibt)
You (you stay, you stay, you stay, you stay)
This line of Deutschland by Rammstein also doesn’t offer much in terms of grammar. It is just a nice reminder that “ihr” is the informal plural version of “you” in German and the conjugation of the verb requires -t.
Rammstein Deutschland Chorus Grammar
Deutschland – mein Herz in Flammen
Germany – my heart in flame
Now we finally get to the chorus where we find the reason this song is called “Deutschland”. It brings back the “heart in flames” line from before, but now we see that it is the speakers heart that is in flames. This is likely meant to be figurative and has to do with passion.
Conjugation & Use of “werden”
Will dich lieben und verdammen
Wants to love you and damn (curse) you
The next line of Deutschland by Rammstein is packed full of great grammar bits. First of all, it is a continuation of the previous one, which is why we use the “er, sie, es” form of the verb “wollen”, “will”. The full conjugation is:
ich will – I want
du willst – you want
er, sie, es will – he, she, it wants
wir wollen – we want
ihr wollt – you want
sie, Sie wollen – they, you want
There are also two opposing infinitives at the end of their respective parts of the clause. Both “lieben” and “verdammen” are used in their infinitive form, because of the modal auxiliary “wollen”. Modal auxiliaries always force their secondary verb to the end of the sentence or clause in the infinitive form.
Accusative Personal Pronouns
We also get a glimpse at the next grammar lesson from Rammstein in Deutschland. The accusative case personal pronouns show up with the example “dich”. This is used, because “Deutschland” is being addressed with the “du” form, but is the direct object of the sentence (the thing being loved or damned) making it accusative. In case you were curious, here are the rest of the accusative pronouns compared to their nominative case counterparts.
ich – mich
du – dich
er – ihn
sie – sie
es – es
wir – uns
ihr – euch
sie – sie
Sie – Sie
Deutschland – dein Atem kalt
Germany – your breath cold
We have seen this line before, but now we get the identity of the entity that has the cold breath. Now we know that Germany is the one with cold breath. So far Rammstein have only shown us the grammar of two possessive articles in Deutschland, “mein” and “dein”. Possessive articles are technically genitive pronouns. Semantics aside, they have a direct relationship with the nominative personal pronouns. If “ich” has something, it is “mein”. When “du” has something, it is “dein”. If you follow that logic, the following chart will make sense.
ich – mein – my
du – dein – your
er – sein – his
sie – ihr – her
es – sein – its
wir – unser – our
ihr – euer – your
sie – ihr – their
Sie – Ihr – your
Jung und Alt
So jung – und doch so alt
So young – and yet so old
This line isn’t very helpful grammatically, but it does have a cool meaning culturally. Germany is a relatively young country, as it wasn’t until 1990 when they officially became one country again, but it is also really old, as it has been around for centuries in various forms.
Oh, look! The title of the song again.
Rammstein Deutschland: Verse 2
Ich (du hast, du hast, du hast, du hast)
I (you have, you have, you have, you have)
Here we simply start the next verse with the first person singular pronoun “ich” and the “du hast” line that I’ve already explained.
German Modal Auxiliaries
Ich will dich nie verlassen (du weinst, du weinst, du weinst, du weinst)
I never want to leave you (you cry, you cry, you cry, you cry)
In this sentence we see another example of the modal auxiliary “wollen” in action. This time with the infinitive of the verb “verlassen” at the end of the clause as our secondary verb. We also get another example of the accusative personal pronoun “dich”, as the “you” to which he is referring is the direct object of the clause again, the one being left. The second half of the line is just a gentle reminder that the “du” form of a verb requires -st at the end.
Man kann dich lieben (du liebst, du liebst, du liebst, du liebst)
One can love you (you love, you love, you love, you love)
More examples of modal auxiliaries, this time “können”, which we have already seen and discussed in this song. Again, the infinitive “lieben” is at the end of the clause, because of this modal auxiliary. We also have another example of the pronoun “dich”, as “you” are the one being loved. The word “man” is often misunderstood as to what it really is. It is a pronoun, but is used as a generic pronoun rather than “er” or “sie”. It still uses that form of the verb, as it is singular, but it is a pronoun in that it replaces a noun, although the exact noun that is being replaced is either not known or unnecessary for the sentence. The second half reminds us again that the “du” form of a verb requires -st at the end.
Und will dich hassen (du hasst, du hasst, du hasst, du hasst)
And want to hate you (you hate, you hate, you hate, you hate)
More modal auxiliary examples with “wollen” and the infinitive “hassen” at the end. This one looks like it is lacking a subject, but it is actually still using the subject “man” from the previous line.
Überheblich, überlegen, Übernehmen, übergeben, Überraschen, überfallen
I’m going to take these three lines completely apart, as each one has a cool effect that is being used. Rammstein are playing with a fun little grammar tidbit in this part of Deutschland. The word or prefix “über” has a kind of cult following in English speaking parts of the world. We seem to think that it makes everything bigger, better, or stronger.
It also tends to have a bit of a Nazi connotation in English, which is why I think it is an odd choice for a ride sharing app. Rammstein is using this understanding to evoke those feelings from English speakers who have no idea what they are talking about and using it for other reasons for the German speakers.
For those who know what these words mean, there is also a war-time if not Nazi connotation, as they are used in a fashion that can only be interpreted that way. The word “über” does take things to another level, as the English speakers assume, but it is done in a different way than one might think. I’ll show you what I mean.
heben vs legen – lifting vs laying
This word at its base comes from the verb “heben”, which means “to hoist” or “lift”. The prefix “über” makes it “to hoist above” or “lift above”, but this adjective means more that someone thinks they are higher up than someone else. You look down on others from your ivory tower.
Here we have a bit of interpretation to be done. The verb “legen” means “to lay”, but when you put “über” in front of it, it becomes “to consider”, “deliberate” or “ponder”. As an adjective, however, it means “superior”, “outstanding” or “sovereign”. This leave a huge space for interpretation. Either this is a verb and he is saying that Germany is considerate or he is using it as an adjective, which I find more likely, as the previous word was an adjective, and he means Germany is superior (or at least thinks it is) to other nations and people. It should be mentioned, however that the rest of the über-words on the list are more than likely verbs, which brings back more ambiguity into this line.
nehmen vs geben – taking vs giving
This one is a verb first and can be used as an adjective, but in this case, we are simply looking at the infinitive of the verb “übernehmen”. “Nehmen” on its own means “to take”, but when you put “über” in front of it, it becomes “to take over”. The other translations I gave are used in a similar context. This is probably the most literally translatable word on this list.
This is pretty close to the opposite of the previous verb. “Geben” means “to give”, but when combined with “über” it means “to surrender”. This is another great example of Rammstein showing two words next to each other that are not simply opposites in meaning, but also in construction. Giving vs taking, surrendering vs taking over. Even when broken apart these words are opposites. I find that cool.
The word “rasch” is an adjective that means something is being done at a rapid pace. While you can’t make this into a verb on its own (“raschen” isn’t a real verb), when you add “über” into the mix it means “to surprise”. This would literally be “to over rush”, which is kind of what happens when you surprise someone.
The verb “fallen” means “to fall”, which doesn’t seem to help much when the verb “überfallen” means to assault, attack or even to mug. Literally it should be “to fall over”, but it is nowhere near that translation. This just shows the versatility of the word “über” and also gives us another interesting viewpoint from Rammstein. Since all of the previous words were separated out and had helpful meanings, this last one shows that Rammstein wants you to pay attention to the “falling” aspect as well as the “assaulting” aspect of this verb. While Germany has been on the attacking end of a lot of history, that also came with a subsequent fall, which I think Rammstein is trying to draw attention to through this prefix über and its repetition.
Rammstein Deutschland Chorus (Modified)
Most of the chorus is the same, but towards the end they changed it in significant ways. After the line “So jung – und doch so alt” there are some new lines.
Deutschland – deine Liebe ist Fluch und Segen
Germany – your love is curse and blessing
Here is a nice reminder that “Liebe” is a feminine noun. Also, building vocabulary again with “Fluch” and “Segen”. I often mix up “Fluch” and “Flucht”, which are not the same. “Fluch” is a curse, but “Flucht” is an escape. I blame Johnny Depp for this confusion. “The Pirates of the Caribbean” films in German are called “Fluch der Karibik” and when I read it out loud I often let the words “Fluch” and “der” flow together, which makes it sound really similar to “Flucht”. Long story short, don’t do like I do and mix up “Fluch” and “Flucht”.
Deutschland – meine Liebe kann ich dir nicht geben
Germany – my love, I can not give you
This sentence is awesome for grammar. 1: It shows you the flexibility of German word order by starting the sentence with the direct object “meine Liebe”. 2: It shows us another example of a modal auxiliary with an infinitive at the end of the sentence. 3: It shows us an indirect object used as the pronoun “dir”. This is the one receiving the direct object, which, as I mentioned, is “meine Liebe”. 4: We have an example of negation in a sentence where it doesn’t make sense to negate the noun. Since we need the possessive article “meine” in front of “Liebe” to identify the person to whom the love belongs, we are forced to negate the sentence through other means. In this case, they chose to negate it with the word “nicht” right before the infinitive “geben”.
Also, since there is a pause in the song between “meine Liebe” and “kann”, Rammstein is again playing on that duality between loving and hating Germany. If you stop the sentence at “Liebe” it sounds like he is addressing “Deutschland” as his love, but if you read the entire sentence it becomes clear that the love is the direct object, which cannot be given to Germany. Another great duality in this song.
du, ich, wir, ihr
you, I, we, you
In the beginning of the bridge we get an almost complete list of personal pronouns in the nominative case. It is Rammstein’s way of telling us that everyone is involved in the things that Germany is/was/will be, but I just like it as a list of personal pronouns in German. Also, I think it is noteworthy that they never use the formal “Sie” in any portion of this song. Their relationship to Germany is used with the “du” form. Their relationship to the audience, as shown here, is in the “du” form. It shows a comradery or a sense of being on level playing field with the others.
Du (übermächtig, überflüssig)
You (overwhelming, unnecessary/wasteful)
Now we start to get the reason for the list of pronouns before. Those were simply introductions to the next four lines, in which each pronoun is given a list of attributes to describe them. This first one is referring back to Germany as “du” and gives us two more über-words. The first one “übermächtig” comes from the word “mächtig”, which is “powerful”. Add “über” into the mix and you end up with “overwhelming”, “overpowering” or “superior”. The second word “überflüssig” is an odd word to me, as the word “flüssig” on its own means “fluid”, “liquid” or “smooth”. Add in the word “über” and you get “unnecessary”, “wasteful” or “redundant”. It could even be translated as “disposable” or “expendable”.
Is the “Übermensch” Superman?
Ich (Übermenschen überdrüssig)
I (supermen, weary/sick)
The word “Übermenschen” is a reference to Nietzsche’s ideal man that was supposed to replace modern morality with a higher morality. It is most commonly used now as a misinterpretation of the original meaning of “Übermensch” by the Nazis, who thought that the “Übermensch” was a person who was better than others, as in the Aryan race. There is no word “drüssig”, but the word “überdrüssig” means “weary”, “sick” or “tired”, again the opposite of the first. It could mean that he is tired of the Übermenschen, but it isn’t really clear here.
Wir (wer hoch steigt, der wird tief fallen)
We (who climbs high, will fall deeply)
There are three fun grammar bits in this line. The use of “wer” as an introductory word for a clause that is not a question, but rather an identifier of a person, which is acting as a conjunction. This causes our verb in that clause “steigt” to go to the end of the clause instead of next to the subject, which is also our conjunction “wer”.
The second interesting bit is the use of “der” as a demonstrative pronoun. This is essentially a definite article that is used as a pronoun. This makes us use the “er, sie, es” form of the verb “werden”. The last grammar bit in this line is the use of “werden”, which is used to form the future tense in German. This is used like the modal auxiliaries that I have mentioned before in that it pushes the other verb to the end of the sentence as an infinitive.
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles/allen
Ihr (Deutschland, Deutschland über allen)
You (Germany, Germany over all others)
This is a play on the oft misinterpreted words in the old German national anthem “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles”. This line is no longer actually sung, as only the third verse of the song is the national anthem of Germany and this line is not in there. The reason it is often misinterpreted is the word “über” again. This time we see “über alles”, which many people misinterpret as Germany standing over everyone else as in superiority. When using the accusative case in the song, however, it shows that Germany is supposed to be above all other things in the hearts of the people, not in terms of conquering the world. When using the dative case, as Rammstein did in their version, the meaning is that Germany is superior to all others. The case system is very important in this line.
Those are all of the grammar topics that you can glean from the new Rammstein song “Deutschland”. If you want more information about any of these topics, check out the list of links below to see videos I have made about all of these topics as well as a link to the official music video from Rammstein and an explanation from Dominik from Get Germanized that explains the lyrics to the German national anthem in more detail than I have here. You can also find the videos I mentioned at the beginning of the video by VlogDave. I also made a playlist of all of the videos I think you should watch about Rammstein’s new song “Deutschland”.