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Contradictions - language - illogical

Supposed contradictions in the German language

Hurry up, because less is sometimes more! Especially in times of virtual reality and minus growth, in times when even inveterate vegetarians have to sit down when they have stood, we should dare to square the circle and, if we don’t succeed, just let things be, because it is an open secret that the older gentleman is usually younger than the old man and empties are bad when you are still thirsty.

An article for all those for whom German was only an elective subject and who feel a bittersweet love-hate relationship with the German language, but prefer factual romances.

The following list, which we came up with on the spur of the moment, is only the preliminary final result, which we can improve at any time with your top suggestions.

Really illogical! – supposed contradictions

Illustration by Delia Tello – the image may be redistributed.

But why they are not contradictions after all, you can find out here:

The situation is simply difficult.

The modal particle (this is not an adjective) simply Expresses an emotional reinforcement of meaning.

Synonyms to simply (particle): just; now once; halt


Your behavior is simply impossible.
It simply did not help me.

Now we have to hurry up.

In fact, in colloquial language we use slowly sometimes express that the time has come to do something. If you are sitting with someone in the pub and he says "We should go home now", it means that he wants to go home soon now. So better not order another beer!

You can speak louder.

With the particle calmly expresses the speaker giving his agreement or being indifferent to something. Furthermore, this particle can express an encouragement.

Synonyms to calm: from me; without hesitation; confidently; without further ado; without problems; unobjectionably


Feel free to ask me. I will try to answer you.
You can feel free to tell me if you have a problem with it.
Now go away! Nothing will happen.

A moment ago it was fully empty.

The adverb full has the meaning totally, absolutely or to the highest degree.


I find them fully nice.
The movie is full of good.
It’s just stupid!

Your new hairstyle is quite ugly.

The meaning of quite nice is quite.


It is already quite late. We should go home now.
The food was quite expensive. Next time we will go to another restaurant.

Once the momentum is gone, it gets slow real fast.

If something slows down, this can happen either very slowly and gradually or very quickly, i.e. in a short period of time.

You have to speed up slowly.

In the long jump, you don’t sprint right away, but you slowly get faster.

You should go around the obstacle, not around it!

That’s important, because if we don’t go around the obstacle but drive around it, then we collide with it. However, if we don’t go around the obstacle, we go around it. All clear? Probably not. Therefore, here comes the explanation, because the difference is extremely important, especially when this obstacle is a person.

There is the verb run over both as a separable and as an inseparable verb. The meaning of the two verbs is different. In the question whether a verb with a prefix is separable or inseparable, the stress will help you. If the stress is on the prefix, the verb is separable. But if the verb stem is stressed, it is an inseparable verb.

atto drive (separable): to drive against something and thus bring it down

The traffic sign is broken, because a driver has knocked it down.

atfahren (inseparable): to make a turn around something (driving a vehicle)

The obstacle was in the middle of the road. But the driver was attentive and drove around it.

The cup was all broken.

When something is not broken, it is whole, that is, undamaged and unharmed. Things that break can break only a little bit or completely, i.e. totally.

The adjective quite has u.a. these two meanings:

1. totally, completely (standard language)
2. undamaged; unharmed (slang)

What you did was so right wrong.

There are the adjectives right and wrong, and some people sometimes find it hard to distinguish between right and wrong. Therefore, every now and then they do something really wrong. Here it is a question of correct but not about the adjective with the meaning correct, but the adjective used as an adverb with the meaning in fact.

Synonyms to right (as an adverb): indeed; truly; truly; very; pronouncedly


The TV series Babylon Berlin is really good.
You did that really well.
This answer was really stupid.

He’s taking it badly right now.

Here we are dealing with just not about the adjective with the meaning not crooked or not crooked, but the adverb with the meaning at the moment. So he resents me at the moment.

Synonyms to straight (Adverb): at this moment; at the moment; at the moment


What are you doing?
I’m just reading an article about supposedly contradictory sentences.

Something is going wrong here.

But at the moment nothing works at all. Something is going totally wrong right now at this very moment.

She’s awfully sweet. / She’s awfully sweet.

There are kind people and there are terrible and horrible people. But there are also terribly or. terribly dear people. However, these are not people who are sometimes sweet sometimes terrible, but those who are very sweet.

Synonyms to terrible and terrible (as an adverb): very; exceedingly


He was terribly bored.
I am terribly tired.
I like to do that terribly.

Come on, go on!

Yes, what now? Shall I come or go?
Here is the imperative (Come!) simply as a request to do something. So it has the meaning Go! or Go ahead!


Now come on! Don’t make such a fuss!
Come on, tell me what happened!

Then drive!

To drive or to stop? If it were two verbs, we would indeed have a contradiction here. At stop is not the imperative of the verb, however hold, but about the particles stop. In this sentence we express with just I advised you not to do it, but if you don’t want to listen to me, then just go to!"

Synonyms to stop: just now


If you do not want to come, then just stay at home!
If you’re so insistent and don’t want to listen to my advice, then just do it!

The two are eerily familiar with each other.

So familiar that it’s uncanny? Not at all! The meaning of scary is here extremely.

Synonyms to eerieextremely; very; exceedingly


I find him incredibly nice.
It’s eerily cozy here.

She is incredibly honest.

Yes, it’s hard to believe how honest she is!

Synonyms to unbelievable: extraordinarily; exceedingly; very; beyond all measure


The concert was incredibly good.
The task is incredibly difficult.

There she was quite mixed up.

Children’s rooms are often messy and rarely tidy. But he who is confused (bewildered) can, if this confusion is extreme, be quite properly confused.

Synonyms to neat: downright; downright


When I heard about it, I was really surprised.

The shot was right off the mark.

Close miss is also a miss! And when you can’t miss more accurately, the shot misses its target by a hair’s breadth and by a hair’s breadth, it misses exactly.

He is full-figured.

When it comes to a person’s girth, we sometimes shy away from statements that are too clear-cut. If we don’t want to call someone or ourselves fat, we are free to use the beautiful euphemism full-figured at disposal.

Synonyms to full-figured: plump; chubby; plump

Wait a minute!

Now wait a minute, I still have to look at something!

Synonyms: Wait a minute! Wait a moment!

So you see: In most cases, the word that represents a supposed contradiction is not the antonym at all, but a particle or an adverb that expresses a reinforcement of the meaning.

Dark it was, the moon shone brightly

And last but not least, a poem teeming with oxymorons, paradoxes, and obvious contradictions.

Dark it was, the moon shone brightly,
snow covered the green corridor,
Than a car lightning fast,
slowly drove around the corner.
Inside people were sitting standing,
silently engrossed in conversation,
than a dead rabbit
skated on the sandbank.
And a blond-haired youth
with coal-black hair
sat on a green box,
which was painted red.
Next to him ‘ne alte Schrulle,
barely counted sixteen years,
to have a sandwich in my hand,
which was coated with lard.

You can discover more curiosities of the German language here:

More typical German sentences:

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