Becoming a car
You recently received your driver’s license and are ready to explore the open roads. You do not own a car, but know someone will give you one as a gift. All excited, you announce:
For my birthday, I am becoming a car!
Outside of Rick & Morty, this is completely impossible. For this sentence to be true, you would have to turn into a car on your birthday. While looking similar, the German “bekommen” does not translate to “become”. “Become” translates to the German “werden”.
The correct translation of “bekommen” is very context-dependent. For example, use “get” when you want to talk about receiving something.
- “Kann ich ein Bier bekommen?” translates to “can I get a beer?” Becoming a beer would turn you into a drink.
- “Ein Kind bekommen” translates to “having a child”, because becoming a child is the plot of Benjamin Button.
- “Eine Erkältung bekommen” translates to “catching a cold”. Becoming a cold means you are going to continue your life as a disease.
- “Ein Auto bekommen” translates to “getting a car”, because you will never be a car.
Translations from English to German also need to take the context into account. While “get” translates to “bekommen” in some sentences, this is not its only translation. “It is getting hot in here” does not translate to “es bekommt warm hier drin”.
Translating “bekommen” is more difficult than always using the same word. In any case, translating it with “become” is as wrong as it is hilarious.
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Becoming a car
“Bekommen” and “to become” are another pair of false friends. If you want something, make sure you’re not accidentally turning yourself into that thing.Read full lesson