The things that I find hardest about learning German are those things which are almost the same as in English but not quite. Case in point is dealing with prepositions (on, at, for etc.) in conjunction with verbs. For example, a German translation of “I can count on him” would be “Ich kann mit ihm rechnen” which back-translated to English ends up as “I can count with him”. You see the problem? It’s not always going to be a one-to-one translation so a strategy is needed to remember cases. My strategy is as follows:
- Find a noun which starts with the preposition that is used with the verb(!) Using the case above, I can change things slightly so that I have the following sentence: “Ich kann mit meinen Mitarbeitern rechnen” (I can count on my staff/colleagues). You can see from this sentence that the preposition mit binds with the beginning of the noun Mitarbeitern.
- Now that I have the preposition and the beginning of the noun to which it is connected, it becomes much easier to remember. I create a two way translation of this sentence and put it into Anki. Once I’ve seen this sentence a few times and begin to commit it memory it slowly becomes clear to me that “rechnen mit” means to “count on” or “depend (up)on” and the original “Mitarbeter” helper noun gracefully fades away.
In terms of creating sample sentences, it’s best to go with phrases or words which you’re likely to use in day-to-day speech. These are much easier to remember in the long term.
I don’t have a comprehensive list of my sample sentences to hand but I aim to gradually put together a sample list and post them up on this site somewhere so people can begin to use them with their own learning.