Particles are a very important part of every language, because they help us to correctly place accents, emphasize something and highlight something from the general context. Without particles, the language would be dry and boring.  

Today we’ll talk about amplifier words. Such particles and words are used mainly to express expectations (both positive and negative), the speaker’s point of view and attitude towards something, with them we can emphasize agreement, refusal, interest and its boundaries. 

There are many particles in the German language. In fact, they are hard to remember at once. But rest assured, if you still master this speech technique, your German will become very sonorous and beautiful. (I have highlighted amplifiers in bold, try reading the sentences without them, and you will immediately understand how amplifiers affect brightness and tone.) 

How to distinguish amplifier words from the rest?

  1. They don’t conjugate (don’t acquire any endings)
  2. You can’t ask them a question
  3. They cannot appear in the first place of the sentence before the verb, which distinguishes them from introductory words
  4. They amplify not a single word, but the whole sentence. 

What are the amplifiers and how are they used?

aber– “but“, “however“, expresses amazement, agreement, sometimes annoyance.

Aber ja! – But of course!
Du kommst aber spät! – But you’re late!
Das war aber ein Genuss! – But that was a pleasure!
Aber sicher! – But surely!
auch– “also“, “even“, “too“, “as well” reinforces the fact of the situation.

So ist es auch – That’s how it is
Du kommst auch immer zu spät! – You’re always late too!
Darf ich es auch glauben? – Can I believe it too?
bloß– “merely“, ” just “.

Was hast du bloß? – What do you have?
denn– expresses particular interest. 

Was ist denn hier passiert? – What happened here?
Wo ist er denn? 
– Where is he?
So ist es ihm denn gelungen!
 – So he still succeeded! 
doch– “but“, “after all“, “though“, expresses a lack of information, indignation, is also used when expressing an order. 

Sie hat den Koffer doch bereits gepackt. – She’s already packed the suitcase.
Ich habe es dir doch gesagt! – I told you!
Sprechen Sie doch! – Speak (finally)!
eben– “exactly“, “precisely“, “simply“, expresses the preservation of a situation, a statement of fact.

Er ist eben ein Faulpelz – He’s simply a lazy guy
eigentlich– “actually“, “in essence“, colloquially expresses the speaker’s hesitation, his personal opinion.

Was heißt das eigentlich? —What does this actually mean?
Der Stoff ist nicht eigentlich neu – The material isn’t actually new
etwa– “perhaps“, “maybe“, expresses clarification.

Wussten Sie es etwa nicht? – (Perhaps) you didn’t know that?
halt– “just“, shows that something has already taken place, sometimes takes the meaning of “exactly”.

Es ist halt nicht anders – It’s just no different
Ich bin halt auch nur ein Mensch! – I’m just human too!
Er ist halt einfach zu komplex – It’s just too complex
ja– expresses that the speaker is already aware of something, reinforces both positive and negative sentences. 

Das musst du ja tun! – You have to do that!
Komm ja nicht zu spät! – Don’t be late!
Sie ist ja hübsch, aber nicht klug – She’s pretty, but not smart
mal– abbreviated colloquial form from einmal, intensifies the action.

Sie ist nicht mal hübsch – She’s not even pretty
Es ist mal nichts anders – There is nothing different
nur– “only“, “just“, expresses encouragement, is often used in the imperative voice.

Nur keine Ausreden! – Just no excuses!
Nur her damit! – Just bring it on!
Sieh nur, was du angerichtet hast! – Just look what you’ve done!
ruhig– “calmly“, shows the ease of attitude to something.

Das kannst du ruhig machen – You can calmly do that
schon– “already“, emphasizes the interest and importance of the case.

Ich denke schon! – I guess so!
Es wird schon gehen! – It will be ok!
Schon der Gedanke allein … – Just the thought alone
überhaupt– “at all“, denotes a single whole, and also enhances the meaning.

Das ist überhaupt nicht möglich – It is not possible at all
Warum bist du überhaupt gekommen?
 – Why did you come at all? 
vielleicht– strengthens the opinion, “perhaps“, “may be“.

Er ist vielleicht ein Spinner! – He may be a weirdo! 
wohl– “probably“, reinforces the assumption.

Er wird es wohl tun – He’ll probably do it
Was wird er wohl sagen? – What will he probably say?
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(!) Advice for beginners

No need to try to cover everything at once and learn all of the above particles with examples. If you are just starting to learn a new language, try to decorate it one at a time. Especially for you, I present a set of amplifiers, which are made for beginners:

  1. JA – this particle is suitable for both negative and positive situations:

    Das ist ja gut! – It is very good!
    Das ist ja schlecht! – That’s bad!
    Du weißt es ja! – You know it!
  2. ABER – since you must have already learned this word:

    Aber sicher / aber natürlich – But of course
    Das weiss ich aber nicht! – But I don’t know!
  3. DENN – since that allows us to show interest:

    Was machst du denn da? – What are you doing here?
  4. NUR – since this particle in most cases fully reflects its basic meaning “only”:

    Das ist nur ein Spiel – That’s only a game
  5. SCHON – allows you to emphasize the importance:

    Ich denke schon – I guess so
    Das werde ich schon machen – I’ll do that

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