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Wort der Woche: The German noun Stunde

Word of the Week: The German noun Stunde

The second word in the new Wort der Woche series is: Stunde (noun) hour. The noun Stunde is the 40th most common noun in German and is in the top 300 most commonly used words. Lets’s take a look at its forms and most common usages. Focusing your learning on phrases and contexts rather than on just the meaning of the word by itself can help boost your understanding and your ability to communicate.

Grammar of die Stunde

Stunde is a feminine noun. Feminine nouns have identical declinations for nominative and accusative singular, for nominative and accusative plural, and for dative and genitive singular. The table is color-coded to reflect these similarities.

Wort der Woche: The German noun Stunde

Meaning and usage of die Stunde

The noun Stunde has a handful of equivalents in English. And there are a number of idioms and compounds in which the word is used.

(1) hour (literally, a period of 60 minutes)

Be sure to distinguish die Stunde from die Uhr clock, o’clock (when giving times)

Es ist sechs Uhr. (It’s six o’oclock.)
Es dauert sechs Stunden. (It takes six hours.)

Ich habe eine Uhr. (I have a clock.)
Ich habe eine Stunde (Zeit). (I have an hour.)

Many of the phrases and examples of using Stunde (when it means hour) can also be applied to other units of time. Simply replace Stunde with Tag, Woche, Monat, Jahr and make the necessary article and ending changes to match the gender of the noun.

eine halbe/ganze/volle/gute Stunde  a half/whole/full/good hour
eine knappe Stunde close to an hour
anderthalb Stunden  one and a half hours zweieinhalb Stunden two and a half hours
eine Viertelstunde a quarter of an hour
pro Stunde per hour
in einer Stunde in an hour   in zwei Stunden in two hours
jede Stunde every hour   alle zwei Stunden every two hours
eine Stunde früher/später/länger/zuvor/vorher an hour earlier/later/longer/before/before
eine Stunde danach/zu spät/täglich an hour afterward/too late /daily
eine Stunde vor …/nach …  an hour before … /after …

German doesn’t usually use a preposition, as English does, to say for an hour or for hours

eine Stunde, eine Stunde lang for an hour

Er hat eine Stunde (lang) telefoniert.
He was on the phone for an hour.

Frauke schwimmt eine halbe Stunde jeden Tag.
Frauke swims for a half hour every day.

fünf Stunden, fünf Stunden lang for five hours

Wir sind am Samstag drei Stunden Rad gefahren.
We rode our bikes for three hours on Saturday.

stundenlang (adv.) for hours

Mary hat stundenlang für die Prüfung gelernt.
Mary studied for the test for hours.

If the activity that started in the past is still going on, German uses a prepositional phrase with seit and the present tense where English uses for and the perfect tense:

seit einer Stunde, seit einer halben Stunde for an hour, for a half hour

Seit zwei Stunden regnet es.
It has been raining for two hours.

The noun Stunde appears frequently alongside certain other nouns. Here are some of the most common combinations.

eine Stunde Zeit one hour (worth of time)
eine halbe Stunde Spielzeit a half-hour playing time
zwei Stunden Fahrzeit two hours travel time, a two-hour trip
eine halbe Stunde Autofahrt a half-hour car ride
eine Stunde Verspätung  an hour-long delay
drei Stunden Wartezeit a three-hour wait
acht Stunden pro Tag eight hours a day
Kilometer pro Stunde kilometers per hour

It also appears frequently along with certain verbs. For example:

eine Stunde dauern to last for an hour, to take an hour
zwei Stunden verbringen to spend two hours
eine halbe Stunde warten to wait for half an hour
fünf Stunden kosten to cost five hours
die Uhr eine Stunde zurück•stellen to turn back the clock an hour
(um) eine Stunde vor•verlegen to move up an hour

Die Stunde schlägt/naht/vergeht. The hour strikes / nears / ticks away.

Teil 1: Haben Sie verstanden? Before moving on, let’s work with what you’ve learned so far. Translate the sentences into German. The word Stunde should appear in some form in each of your answers. Check your work by clicking on the English sentences.

1. The trip takes three and a half hours. Die Reise dauert dreieinhalb Stunden.
2. The train arrives in half an hour. Der Zug kommt in einer halben Stunde an.
3. It (i.e. the train) had a half-hour delay. Er hatte eine halbe Stunde Verspätung.
4. I have been waiting for an hour. Ich warte seit einer Stunde.
5. The children played together for an hour. Die Kinder haben eine Stunde lang zusammen gespielt.
6. We’ll spend an hour at the library. Wir verbringen eine Stunde in der Bibliothek.
7. The animals must eat every six hours. Die Tiere müssen alle sechs Stunden essen.
8. I earn ten euros an hour. Ich verdiene zehn Euro pro Stunde.
WORTSCHATZHILFE: die Reise tripder Zug the trainan•kommen to arrivezusammen togetherwarten to waitin der Bibliothek at the librarydie Tiere the animalsverdienen to earn
*Did you come up with alternate answers? Want to see if they are correct? Post them in the comments below!

(2) moment (short or more limited period of time), time (more generally)

The word Stunde can refer to time in general or a moment in time rather than a specific 60-minute unit of time. English also knows such a usage of the word hour.

zu jeder Stunde  at all hours, at any time
zu früher Stunde  at an early hour, in the early hours
zu später Stunde at a late hour, in the eleventh hour
in einer schwachen Stunde in a weak moment
die blaue Stunde  the twilight hour
seine schwerste Stunde his darkest hour

schöne/frohe/festliche/bittere/schwere Stunden miteinander verleben
to spend beautiful/happy/festive/bitter/difficult hours together

Sie haben schöne Stunden miteinander verlebt.
They had a wonderful time together.

When the noun Stunde has a genitive modifier, the word often has this second connotation of a moment or of time in general.

die Stunde der Entscheidung the moment of decision
die Stunde des Abschieds the time to part, say good-bye
die Stunde der Wahrheit the moment of truth
die Stunde des Todes the hour of death

IDIOM:das Gebot der Stunde the order of the day
IDIOM: die Gunst der Stunde nutzen to seize the opportunity, strike while the iron is hot

Teil 2: Haben Sie verstanden? Let’s work with the information in this section. Translate the sentences into German using some form of the noun Stunde. Check your answers by clicking on the English sentences. Post alternate answers in the comments if you’d like to have them checked.

9. The banks are taking advantage of the opportunity.  Die Banken nutzen die Gunst der Stunde.
10. Guests are welcome at any time. Gäste sind zu jeder Stunde willkommen.
11. I am awake in the early morning hours.  Ich bin schon zu früher Stunde wach.
12. The moment of truth is nearing in Copenhagen. Die Stunde der Wahrheit naht in Kopenhagen.
WORTSCHATZHILFE: die Banken the banksGäste guestswillkommen welcomewach awake

(3) lesson, course, class period

Stunde can also refer to a teaching and learning unit, to class periods or to courses. The duration of the periods, courses, or lessons need not equal an hour.

Zwischen den Stunden gibt es 10 Minuten Pause.
There is a 10-minute break between class periods.

Heute fällt die Stunde aus.
The class is cancelled today.

Stunden nehmen to take lessons  Stunden geben to give / offer lessons

Ich habe ein Klavier gekauft und möchte jetzt Stunden nehmen.
I bought a piano and now I’d like to take lessons.

Welche Stunden geben Sie neben Step-Aerobic?
Which classes do you offer besides step aerobics?

The noun Stunde in this meaning often appears in compounds: Unterrichtsstunde (lessonDeutschstunde (German class), Mathematikstunde (math class), Musikstunde (music class), Klavierstunde (piano lesson), Tanzstunde (dance class), Nachhilfestunde (private lesson; tutoring session).

When used to describe classes in a school setting, Stunde refers only to classes taught in primary and secondary schools and not at the university or college level.

Teil 3: Haben Sie verstanden? Translate the following into German using the noun Stunde. Check your answers by clicking on the English sentences.

13. Are you taking lessons now?   Nimmst du jetzt Stunden?
14. No dance classes will take place on Wednesday . Keine Tanszstunden finden am Mittwoch statt.
WORTSCHATZHILFE: statt•finden to take place

Alles klar? Now let’s pull all of the sections together. This time, translate the sentences into English. Check your answers by clicking on the German sentences.

15. Wir haben viele Stunden im Krankenhaus verbracht.   We spent many hours in the hospital.
16. Der Bienenschutz ist das Gebot der Stunde.   The protection of bees is the order of the day.
17. Der Flug wurde um eine Stunde vorverlegt   The flight was moved up an hour.
18. Warum zwitschert die Nachtigall erst zu später Stunde?   Why does the nightingale begin to chirp at such a late hour?
19. Für Peter Hausmann schlägt jetzt die Stunde der Rache. The hour of revenge is now striking for Peter Hausmann.
20. Onliner sind täglich fast drei Studen lang im Netz.   Internet users are online for almost three hours a day.
21. Sie spielt Klavier und gibt private Stunden.   She plays the piano and gives private lessons.
WORTSCHATZHILFE: der Bienenschutz protection of beeszwitchern to chirpdie Nachtigall nightingaleim Netz online
Did you come up with alternate answers in the activities? Want to see if they are correct? Post them in the comments below.
Did you find this post useful? What other words would you like to see covered in the Wort der Woche series? Put in your two cents in the comments below!

* Word frequency information is from Erwin Tschirner and Randall Jones’ Frequency Dictionary of the German Language.
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