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10.7 Seasons and the compass

German seasons
The names of the German seasons are all masculine in German, with the exception of "das Frühjahr", which is one of the words for "spring". The word for a season is "die Jahreszeit (-en)", which literally means "the time of the year":

der Frühling der Frühling
das Frühjahr

   der Sommer der Sommer
der Herbst der Herbst
   der Winter der Winter

Note that German uses the definite article when translating "in spring etc.". In practice, this means that you precede each of the seasons by "im" - "im Frühling / Frühjahr", "im Sommer", "im Herbst", "im Winter".

Points of the compass
Similarly, the points of the compass are all masculine in German. To say "in the north etc.". In practice, you also precede each of the compass points by "im" - "im Norden", "im Westen", "im Süden", "im Osten".

der Norden der Norden
(the North)
   der Westen der Westen
(the West)
der Süden der Süden
(the South)
   der Osten der Osten
(the East)

When used as the first element in compound nouns however, the points of the compass drop the final "-en". Any compound noun thus formed will always take the gender of the final element of the compound.

der Nordwesten der Nordwesten
(the North-West)
   der Nordosten der Nordosten
(the North-East)
der Südwesten der Südwesten
(the South-West)
   der Südosten der Südosten
(the South-East)
Nordengland Nordengland
(the North of England)
   Süddeutschland Süddeutschland
(South Germany)
Westfrankreich Westfrankreich
(the West of France)
   Ostbelgien Ostbelgien
(the East of Belgium)

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Notes on the compass
1. When wind directions are given in weather forecasts, the shorter forms of the points of the compass tend to be used:

  • Schwacher Wind aus Nordost
    (= A light wind from the north-east)
  • Starker Wind aus West bis Südwest
    (= A strong wind from the west to the south-west)

2. If you wish to describe what the temperature is in the middle of a country, you should say "in der Mitte". The element "Mittel-" in a compound geographical noun is used to indicate centrality:

  • Mittelamerika (= Central America)
  • Mitteleuropa (= Central Europe)

Weiter! Chapter 10.8: Reflexive verbs (1)

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