In my classes as a private German online teacher, I often see students that encounter a significant problem using “noch” and “schon” properly. Find out in this article how to use both words properly.
“Noch” vs. “schon”
The two words “noch” and “schon” belong to the adverbs word group, which I will explain a little further. Both have a similar meaning, which is most likely why German students mix them up. So let’s clarify first which equivalent “noch” and “schon” have in English.
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The meaning of “noch”
In German, the adverb “noch” has the meaning of still, even and more. In my opinion, the translation with “still” causes the most significant issue here which you will soon understand when we will discuss “schon”. However, one can use “noch” for these three in German as follows.
“Ich lebe noch in der gleichen Wohnung.” – “I am still living in the same flat.” –
“Das Haus steht noch näher an der Straße.” – “The house is even closer to the street.”
“Da ist noch Essen im Topf.” – “There is more / still food in the pot”
The meaning auf “schon”
In contrast to “noch” where something is still going on, “schon” means already or yet in English. Consequently, it makes a huge difference when you do not use the right word and can completely change the message which you wish to communicate with your sentence.
Besides, German students also tend to use “schön” instead of “schon“. Even though both words only differ in one letter, “schön” means beautiful and this is also very far away from what you would like to say.
“Bist du schon mit dem Lernen fertig?” – “Are you already finished learning?”
“Ist es schon wieder so weit, zum Zahnarzt zu gehen?” – “Is it time to go to the dentist yet?”
Position of Adverbs in a sentence
To understand how to integrate “noch” and “schon” in a sentence structure, you first need to understand what is an adverb. As the name itself already reveals, it has to do something with the verbs. Verbs are these words that describe an action as: spielen, schreiben, leben or machen (to play, to write, to live or to do). Adverbs describe in greater detail how these verbs are being performed. In English, adverbs often have the prefix “-ly”. In contrast, adverbs sound the exact same as their according adjectives (words that describe how a noun is as groß, klein, schön etc.).
Since both, “noch” and “schon” are adverbs, they are supposed to stand before or after the verb in a regular German sentence. However, they both are adverbs of manner and therefore, they will stand after the verb most of the time.
- Da ist noch Essen im Topf.
- Noch ist da Essen im Topf.
Even though both sentences almost look the same, they have a slightly different meaning. While the “noch” in the first sentence means that there is still more food, the second version implies that there is still food, but this might quickly change shortly.
Taking the right decision
As you hopefully understood after reading this article, there is a significant difference between these two German adverbs. Accordingly, you should always carefully ask yourself if you would like to express something that has already happened or that is still in process!
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