Forum Rocket German German Grammar Immer noch, Es tut mir leid and Other Questions

Immer noch, Es tut mir leid and Other Questions



I have a few more questions:

1. What is the difference between “es ist immer noch frei” and “es ist noch frei”?
When I translate both sentences, I get the following in English “is it still free”.
2. When is it necessary to say “eins” instead of “ein”?
3. What is the difference saying “es tut mir leid” and “entschuldigung”
4. What is the difference between saying “Kann ich bitte eine tüte bekommen” and “Kann ich bitte eine tüte haben”?


Hallo RexV,

Thanks for your questions!

1. Es ist immer noch frei and es ist noch frei are almost exactly the same in meaning - as you say, they would both be translated as "it is still free." The difference is the word immer, which generally translates to "always" and puts a different emphasis on the sentence.  While you wouldn't translate it this way, you can think of immer noch as being like "even still" in English.

So basically, es ist noch frei means "it is still free" (with no added emphasis), and es ist immer noch frei emphasizes the "still." It provides a stress on the fact that nothing has changed. It can be used in many different situations, including ones where you would like to imply a bit of impatience (as in: yes, it is still free - same as the last time you asked) - it depends on the context and on one's tone. 

2. The difference between eins and ein is that eins is only used when talking about numbers - that is, the digit "one," by itself - and ein is used both as an indefinite article ("a" in English) and when the word "one" is paired with a noun. Ein will change its form according to gender and case - for example, "I have one dog" or "I have a dog" would be Ich habe einen Hund. Eins, however, never changes its form, and you only use it when counting or referring to something's number - for example, Gleis eins is "Platform One."

Note that the number "one" is the only number that will change in case to agree with a noun. The other numbers stay the same (e.g. Ich habe zwei Hunde).

3. Es tut mir leid and Entschuldigung both mean "I'm sorry," but they are used in different ways. Es tut mir leid literally translates to "it causes me pain" and is used when you want to apologize for something with emotion behind your apology. For example, if you get into an argument with someone and realize you were in the wrong, you would say es tut mir leid - in this case, you genuinely feel bad and are, shall we say, "emotionally" sorry. If, on the other hand, you bump into someone on the street, you would say Entschuldigung. In this way, Entschuldigung also means "I'm sorry," but you could translate it as "excuse me" as well. It is not an emotional apology.

4. Kann ich bitte eine tüte bekommen is more literally "Can I get/receive a bag" and Kann ich bitte eine tüte haben is "Can I have a bag"; they are two different verbs, but in this context, they boil down to the same meaning.

Be careful if you are plugging sentences into an automatic translation tool when first learning a language - often, you will get general translations that give you the gist, but you might miss out on the little details. When you're not sure why sentences are coming up with the same translations, try checking each word individually - this will usually get you back on the right track!




I have noticed in Germany that “es tut mir leid” is also used in situations where there are no emotions behind.

I have for example heard this being said:

“Tut mir leid, wir sind voll belegt = I am sorry but we are full”.

Therefore, is it also possible to use “es tut mir leid” in non-emotional situations and is there a specific guideline for when to use it instead of “Entschuldigung”?

Another example “Es tut mir leid, aber Freitag passt es mir nicht”


Hallo RexV!

Defining es tut mir leid as the emotional form of "I'm sorry" and Entschuldigung as the non-emotional form is indeed a broad generalization so that we can clearly tell the two types of apology apart. As you say, es tut mir leid is used in some situations where someone isn't deeply and truly sorry; in situations like your example where a member of staff says "I'm sorry, we're full," the "I'm sorry" is rather perfunctory: the staff member doesn't actually care. However, we could say that this "I'm sorry" is supposed to be emotional, in theory - in good customer service, the member of staff apologizing should appear to be genuinely sorry (even though in their heart of hearts, they're not really), so they use the "I'm sorry" that sounds like it should be emotional.

Another way of looking at this that might be more helpful for you is that it is always safe to use Entschuldigung as an apology where "excuse me" would make sense in English. In the example we discussed above, the member of staff could say Entschuldigung rather than es tut mir leid, but it would be inadvisable - the polite implication that they are (or should be) actually sorry is completely gone when Entschuldigung is used instead, and the sentence becomes sort of brusque.

I hope that this helps to clarify everything!

Bis zum nächsten Mal,


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