Five small German words to modify (and mollify)

That’s an interesting article (In German) for the advanced learners:

It is about “denn, wohl, gell, halt, ja”.


The one that always confuses me is “halt”, because it’s so hard to translate its meaning exactly. I’ve heard it a lot, but I never quite know exactly when I should use it.

1 Like

That is indeed difficult to explain with grammar and semantics.

Maybe you should think of “halt” as a “spoken shrug”.

“Wenn wir kein italienisches Restaurant finden, gehen wir halt in das chinesische.”
If we do not find an Italian restaurant, we’ll << shrug>> go to the Chinese one."

It takes the urgency, the importance out of the sentence. The speaker does not really care, ithe kind of restaurant is not important for him, he downplays the issue.

Sometmes “just” can be used in a similar way in English.


“spoken shrug” :joy:
Nice. It fits very well.

“halt” kind of implies a feeling of a pragmatic/accepting “nothing can be done about it”.
And yes, “just” is often a good translation, as is “simply”.

Dann gehen wir halt zum Chinesen. - Then we just/simply go to the chinese restaurant.
Es ist halt so. - That’s just how it is.
Wenn es weh tut, dann mach es halt nicht. - If it hurts, then just don’t do it.
Ich bin halt nur 1,60 groß. - Well, I’m only 160cm tall. Whatcha gonna do?
Es ist halt schwer, da nicht hinzusehen. - Well, it’s just hard not to look there.
Es ist halt das beste Werkzeug für den Job. - It simply is the best tool for the job.
Siehst du? Es is halt nicht so einfach wie es aussieht. - See? It’s not as easy as it looks. (As expected, you didn’t succeed first try. It normally takes years to master.)

Also note that “eben” is usually a synonym.