Wir putzen das Auto. (German translation)

In my first-year German class, one of the dialogues was ‘Wir putzen das Auto.’ This was ‘We’re washing the car.’ When I look up ‘wash’ in babelfish, it says ‘wäschen’. When I enter ‘putzen’, it says ‘deseam’.

I’m positive that the phrase in class was ‘Wir putzen das Auto’. Is there a site that A) translates better than babelfish; and B) shows that ‘putzen’ means ‘to wash’?

‘Wir putzen das Auto.’ is correct German, although if I heard it I would think you were detailing it. Meaning more of a “armor all the dash”, “apply tire dressing” etc rather than just a standard wash. For a regular wash, “Wir waschen das Auto” would apply.

Disclaimer: German is my second language. I could be wrong…

Oh dear lord…we used the same textbook in 1978!
“Ist die Post offen, Otto?” “Nein, sie ist am Samstag geschlossen.”
“Warum bist du so traurig?” “Richard ist krank!”

Or something like that. Wow. The memories are flooding!

“Wir waschen das Auto” (not wäschen) would be the normal thing to say, but putzen just means to clean.
The subtle difference would be, I’d say, that you use putzen for when you clean something specific off your car.

You use putzen for a floor, or your glasses, and waschen for the dishes, your car, laundry etc.

For translations of single words, I would recommend an online dictionary like the aforementioned dict.cc over a translation service like babelfish, this “deseam” business is pretty poor performance.

Thank you for that.

Yes, it does appear we used the same textbook. I wish I had a copy of it! (BTW: Your second set started with ‘Du, Fritz!’ :wink: )

Wohin geht Peter?

An den See.

Wish I still a copy too. High School German, 1973. Our teacher was a native German speaker from Argentina. One always wondered…

Okay, if Peter is going to the sea, then wo ist Monika?
I always get those messed up in 32 years of incorrect memories.

Babelfish and it’s ilk don’t take idioms, colloquialisms or syntax into consideration yet, Johnny L.A., so those engines tend to take every word literally :), as I am sure you know.

“Putzen”, therefore, means to “clean” or “dust”, maybe. (referring to the inside of the car).

“Waschen” would be more appropriate, but again, you’re dealing with a “robot”, loosely speaking. You would just have to “know” that (as a human) , I reckon.

Sometimes, when a German word or phrase fails me, I go to Beolingus, a site run by the University of Göttingen, if memory serves… :slight_smile:


On reading the new responses I noticed I had a brainfart up there - the word you use for the dishes is Geschirr spülen - same as in flushing the toilet.

Quasi, I think most people realize that about babelfish. But here the problem was that a single word with a pretty straightforward translation was replaced with one that apparently means a rather specialist metal treatment.

And for translating whole texts online - I just checked out google translate, and it gets putzen right, and automatically gives a dictionary list because it’s a single word.

It’s become pretty nifty, actually, as to be expected from these guys.

That just sounds dirty! :stuck_out_tongue:


That makes sense (your explanation above, I mean).




Some language instruction books can be quite inaccurate. The first German instruction book I ever got informed the reader that der Rock was a man’s sport jacket. I wonder if the phrase Meine Brustwarzen platzen vor Freude doesn’t actually mean “Can you direct me to the railroad station?” after all!

I took German in high school in the early nineties and our textbooks dated from the 1970s…we made fun of the ridiculous hairstyles and clothing…

…while we were wearing stone washed jeans, neon Ocean Pacific t-shirts and a couple of us sported awesome mullets.

“Uschi läuft umher.”
“Marianne mänglet die Wäsche.”

Just learned recently that my old high school is discontinuing German, making Spanish and French the only foreign language options. :frowning: My German/Austrian ancestors buried in the Wisconsin soil are spinning in their graves.

Entschuldigen Sie, bitte - koennen Sie mir sagen, wo die Post ist?

Ja, die Post is links, um die Ecke.

Wir putzen das Auto. (German translation)

Doesn’t that mean “Dude, where’s my car?”


Im Boot.

I managed to track down a copy of the book. It’s A-LM German Level One.

Which is pretty old-fashioned, but not necessarily untrue. German Wikipedia has a picture of a man in that kind of Rock.