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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

English Words That Germans Love

Germans love using English words and phrases. As these words have moved from English over to German, however, many change their meaning. This can make it difficult for native English speakers to interpret what they mean.

So, to help you brush up on your German, I have created this list of Germany's favorite English words and phrases.

1. Handy
English Definition: convenient, useful
German Definition: cell phone

This is the most widely-used term for a cell phone, which is actually kind of funny to us English-speakers. Once you get over how strange it is to call a cell phone a Handy, however, you can see how it does make a little bit of sense.

Sir, would you like a free handy?
Photo by UltraSlo1

2. Old-Timer
English Definition: old person; someone with a lot of experience
German Definition: vintage car

For me, old timer is a rude term for an elderly person. So, it sounds pretty funny when we drive by a vintage car show and my German boyfriend will say, "Look at all the old timers!"

3. Ghetto Blaster
English: politically-incorrect and outdated term for a portable stereo
German: the most popular name for a portable stereo

When I first heard this used, I was completely confused. And chances are, if you are an American reading this, you had never heard of it before either (unless you ready by article Deconstructing Denglisch). Don't worry, though, it is just a portable stereo or boom box. And while some Americans may still use this the term "Ghetto Blaster," it is definitely not used as frequently as it is in Germany.

4. Couching
English: to express something in a specific manner; to lie down
German: to be a couch potato

I actually found the English definitions above in the Miriam Webster dictionary, although I have never heard this term used in English before. Anyways, I like the German definition much better. I also find it pretty funny when Germans use it:

"What are you doing this weekend?"
"Just couching."

This family has that couching thing down.
Photo by Cindy Funk

5. Smoking
English: to smoke
German: dinner jacket

Everyone knows that words ending in -ing are verbs. Not in this case, however. Germans will use the word Smoking as a noun to describe a dinner or tuxedo jacket. I must admit I have never actually heard someone say this in German, but I have seen it online. Just check out what happens when you type Smoking into

6. Black Music
English: outdated term for music created by African-Americans
German: any music genre with a majority of black artists (e.g. Rap, Hip-Hop, RnB, Jazz, Blues)

After the term "Ghetto Blaster," I think we have already established that Germans are not too worried about political-correctness. So, you should not be too surprised that Germans refer to any musical genre that was started by/dominated by black artists as "Black Music." Yes, this means that even if you were to go shopping today for CD's in Germany (as if anyone does that anymore) you will find a section titled "Black Music." There you can find things like James Brown and Boys II Men as well as the Beastie Boys.

7. Body Bag
English: bag for a dead body
German: cross-body bag; messenger bag

This is a one of the more hilarious instances of a word getting its meaning changed when adopted by a new language. And although it is pretty harmless, it could also cause a bit of an issue. I mean, just imagine if your German roommate tells you they are going to go shopping for a body bag, and you were not aware of the German meaning...

To read more about my thoughts on English being used in the German language, make sure to check out my April column Deconstructing Denglisch over on Expat Focus.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Mistranslation Monday: Listen

The German boyfriend and I were listening to music on Spotify recently, which is a music steaming platform. You can see the Denglish mix of options in Spotify's menu on the right.

One of the sections we listen to quite often is called "Top Listen."

In both English and German, the word "Top" means the same thing. Depending on whether you are one of my American or German readers, however, you could have read the word "Listen" in one of two ways:

English: the act of listening to something (hören)

German: the plural form of List (lists).

Living in a household where both German and English are regularly spoken (often within the same sentence), the only way to tell the difference between these two words is pronunciation. In English, the T in listen (hören) is not spoken. Instead, it is pronounced like "lissen." In German, however, the T is clearly articulated.

Little did we realize that over the past few months, Marco and I had always been reading "Top Listen" differently. So, when I asked him to "turn on Top Listen" one day, he was quite confused.

"Turn on what?"

"The playlist on Spotify. Top Listen."

"Oh! You mean Top Listen."

Then a debate ensued over whether it is actually listen or Listen -- and the German won.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How I Got Through Airport Security with Jars of Jam

For accuracy, this post should be titled:
How I Accidentally Got Through Airport Security Twice with Three Large Jars of Homemade Jam
...but that seemed a little wordy.

If you are a frequent traveler, then you probably describe yourself as a professional at getting through airport security. Heck, I should be adding this to my resume at this point. But when I managed to get three large jars of homemade jam in my carry-on luggage from Hamburg to Chicago, via Frankfurt and Raleigh, even I was shocked.

I packed my carry-on luggage without ever considering the fact that jam is a liquid. Since I always have issues with my luggage being too heavy, I was more concerned with putting the heaviest
items in my carry-on. Thus, three jars of jam got shoved into my backpack.

So I get to security, pull out my bag of liquids and place it in a separate plastic bin to go through the scanner. My jam was still in the bottom of my backpack. After I got through, the security officer calls me over and asks me to open my bag. I do, and he digs around in it, until he pulls out the jars of jam. Plain jars with just "Erbeermarmelade" written on a sticker.

"Selbstgemacht (homemade)..." he says under his breath as he is shaking his head.

"Ja..." I reply, feeling like a fool.

He quickly just shoves them back in my bag and says, "Go." Oh. Okay. I grab my bag and go. As I am walking to my gate, however, I am already worried. I have my first layover in Frankfurt, where I won't have to do another security check. But when I get off the plane in Raleigh to go to Chicago, I know I will, and I doubt the Americans will be so forgiving.

About 12 hours later, I am ready to go through the security check in Raleigh. I leave the jam in the bottom of my backpack, planning on just playing the oblivious card again. I put my bag of liquids in a separate plastic container, my backpack behind it, and go through the scanner. I see the woman point at the screen as my bag goes through. She motions for another officer to check it. He walks over, but thinks she was pointing at my bag of liquids. So he opens up my ziploc bag, reads the labels on each of my little bottles. Satisfied, he hands it back to me. I grab my backpack and get the heck out of there.

This could probably bring up a whole debate of how effecitve airport security really is, but I was just happy to get to enjoy my homemade jams at home in the U.S.

What is the strangest thing you have gotten though airport security with in your carry-on?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter in Germany

The German boyfriend and I spent a very lovely Easter Sunday together this year. It started off with a huge breakfast followed by an Easter basket hunt. Here are the contents of both of our baskets:

We also hid treats around the living room, and Daisy had a hunt of her own.

The weather was so nice, that we decided to go out for a bike ride in the afternoon. We didn't have a destination in mind, but we ended up coming across the old abandoned fields of the Lüneburger Sport-Klub.

We brought a blanket, had a picnic, and enjoyed the sun. Then, after getting back home, we cooked a delicious Easter dinner.

That is bacon-wrapped chicken breasts stuffed with tomato, basil, and cheese and green bean casserole.

And the best thing about the Easter holiday in Germany is that it lasts from Friday through Monday. So, Marco and I had a perfect Easter weekend that consisted of lots of relaxing and recharging for the weeks ahead.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Tips for the TestDaF: Mündlicher Ausdruck

7 Sections
Computer & Headset
35 Minutes

The speaking portion of the TestDaF is done with a computer and headset. You just click the play button once to start the section, and then it plays through the recording for 35 minutes while also recording your responses. For each section, the directions will be read aloud. Then, you will receive a specific amount of time to prepare your response (Vorbereitungszeit). You will hear a tone, a voice will prompt you to give your response, and then it is your time to talk (Sprechzeit). After it has run through all 7 sections, you hit the stop button, and you are done. 

Although the topics always change, the formats of each sections stay the same. So, by learning about each of the specific formats now, you can be best prepared on test day. Also, I have heard from some people on the inside that only two of these 7 exercises are actually graded. So, you should know which 2 to focus on.

Aufgabe 1
Vorbereitungszeit: 30 Seconds
Sprechzeit: 30 Seconds

Think of this as the warm-up for the speaking portion. Section 1 is always a phone call, and you are asked to introduce yourself, explain why you are calling, and ask a question about the given situation. For example, if the situation is that you are calling the TestDaF test center because you want to sign up for the exam, you should say:

Guten Tag! Ich heiße Courtney und ich interessiere mich für den TestDaF. Wissen Sie was die Prüfung kostet?

  • Prepare the question you will ask during your preparation time
  • Do not worry if you mess up this one, it is not graded

Aufgabe 2
Vorbereitungszeit: 1 Minute
Sprechzeit: 1 Minute

This section asks you to talk about a specific custom in your home country. Typically, it will say something like: 

Ihr Studienfreund Marco erzählt Ihnen, dass er ein Date hat und dafür noch Blumen kaufen möchte. Er fragt Sie, was man in Ihrem Heimatland macht, wenn man z.B. ein Date hat.

You then have to discuss what the tradition is in your home country, and what you would do in his situation. You only have 1 minute to talk, so just a few sentences is more than enough.

  • Make sure to touch on both points during your speaking time
  • If you do not know how it is in your home country, then simply say you do not know
    • Just remember to explain why you do not know

Aufgabe 3
Vorbereitungszeit: 1 Minute
Sprechzeit: 1 Minute 30 Seconds

This one is all about describing a graph. Luckily you should already have the different types of graphs and the vocabulary needed to describe them memorized for the Grafik Beschreibung of the Schriftlicher Ausdruck. So, you just need to do the same here, except orally.

Die Linien-/Balken-/Kreis-/Säulendiagramm zeigt...

Aufgabe 4
Vorbereitungszeit: 3 Minuten
Sprechzeit: 2 Minuten

For this section, you will have to weigh advantages and disadvantages of the given subject and give your opinion. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Good, because this is one of the graded sections that you will need to do good on to get a 4 or 5. 

The topics of this sections are always academic in nature, such as "should Germany allow parents to homeschool their children?" or "Should Germany create elite universities that receive more money than the rest of the universities in the country?"

  • Spend your preparation time making a list of the advantages and disadvantages
  • During the speaking time, just work your way down this list
  • Remember to not only state your opinion at the end, but also provide an explanation of why

Aufgabe 5
Vorbereitungszeit: 2 Minutes
Sprechzeit: 1 Minute 30 Seconds

This one is very similar to number 4. Instead of an academic topic, however, you will just be giving a friend some advice. The prompt will be something like:

Ihre Freundin Birgit will ihr Spanisch verbessern. Sie hat zwei Möglichkeiten: Sie könnte einen privat Lehrer finden oder sich für einen Kurs an der Sprachschule anmelden.

Once again, you just have to weight the advantages and disadvantages as well as give your own opinion. This one is really like a breather before the killer, number 6.

Aufgabe 6
Vorbereitungszeit: 3 Minuten
Sprechzeit: 2 Minuten

This is the toughest one of them all. It is also the other graded section, so prepare wisely. For this section, you are given a graph. You will need to name potential reasons for whatever trend the graph is showing.

For example, it may show how much fast food was consumed from 1950 to 2000. You can see the amount has gone up year after year. So, you will have to talk about the fact that there are more fast food restaurants nowadays, people do not cook as often, etc. 

You will also have to predict how this trend will look in the future. Will people continue to consume more and more fast food? Or do you think it is on a downward trend? Why?

Yes, it is a lot to say in 2 minutes, so you really have to prepare well during the preparation time.

Unfortunately, I did not understand the topic of this section when I took the exam, which I am sure is why I got a 4 and not a 5. Since I did at least try to make an argument and describe the graphic well, however, I still managed to snag a 4. 

This just shows that this test is all about how your formulate your opinion, not what your opinion actually is. So, if you are not sure how the trend will develop in the future, just try your best to name your possibilities.

Aufgabe 7
Vorbereitungszeit: 1 Minute 30 Seconds
Sprechzeit: 1 Minute 30 Seconds

Yay! You made it to the end, just 3 more minutes, and you are done with the test! This section is likely not graded as well, so take a breath, and go out with a bang. For this section, you just need to give a friend some advice. For example, your girlfriend wants to quite smoking or your classmate is looking for a new roommate. You tell them if their idea is good or not with a little reasoning behind your decision. No problem.


I was told that when they grade the Mündlicher Ausdruck at the TestDaF center, they only listen to sections 4 and 6 (the TestDaF is a business, after all, and time is money). So, while you should try to give the best response for every section, these are the two most important. They will only listen to other sections if they are not sure what score to give you after listening to 4 and 6.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tips for the TestDaF: Schriftlicher Ausdruck

4 Blank Pages
5 Minutes for Brainstorming
60 Minutes for Writing

The third portion of the TestDaF is the dreaded writing section (Schriftlicher Ausdruck). For this portion, you are given 60 minutes to write an essay about the given topic. Regardless of what the topic is, the test always requires you to touch on certain points such as describing a graph, naming your opinion, and writing about the situation in your home country. So, although you cannot predict what topic you will receive, there are some tricks to preparing.

Time: 5 minutes
Length: 2-4 sentences

When the writing portion begins, you will first receive short paragraph describing the topic. After reading this, you are given 5 minutes to begin brainstorming. Your essay has to have an introduction, so this is a good place to begin. 

The easiest method for writing an introduction is to simply rephrase the topic paragraph in your own words. 

Let's use the example: Englischunterricht in der Schule. The topic paragraph you are given talks about how children begin English classes at age 6 in Germany. Instead of repeating that (you would lose points that way), you need to reiterate their point while also bringing something new to the table. So, you could instead say that English is a major advantage when looking for a job, so it is helpful that children in Germany are beginning English classes at such a young age.

Helpful Phrases (here are some phrases you can use to kick off your introduction):

Schon lange lässt sich beobachten, dass...
Seit einiger Zeit wird über... diskutiert.

Your introduction only needs to be 2-4 sentences, so do not spend too much time on this. At the end of this paragraph, you should provide a transitional statement. Since the next section is describing the graph, here is an example sentence that will work for any topic.

Transition (Überleitung):

Die Grafik "..." verdeutlicht dieses Problem/diese Entwicklung.

Grafik Beschreibung
Time: 15 minutes
Length: 3/4 page

After your 5 minute brainstorming session is over, you can turn the page and see the graph(s). You need to describe the graph(s) objectively. It is easy to start off this section with an opening statement that will work for any topic, such as:

Vor der Erörterung dieses Themas, möchte ich einige Fakten aufzeigen.

After you have that out of the way, look at what type of graph it is. There are four possibilities, so memorize their names now:
  • Säulendiagramm
  • Kreisdiagramm
  • Balkendiagramm
  • Liniendiagramm
Sometimes there is just one graph, sometimes there is two. When I took the exam, I had both a Balkendiagramm and a Kreisdiagramm. It is also possible that there will be a table (Tabelle).

Start off by describing the basic information you are being given:

Die Grafik zeigt...
Es wird angegeben, wie viele...
Die Informationen stammen von... aus dem Jahr...

Then move on to name the interesting points. You do not have the time to mention everything, so just pick out the figures that are particularly low or high. Once you have done this, it is time for another transition statement. Here is another example that can work for any topic:

Transition (Überleitung):

Aus diesen Informationen werden unterschiedliche Schlussfolgerungen gezogen.

Time: 25 minutes
Length: 1 page

This is the most important section of your essay that you will spend the most amount of time on. You need to kick off this next paragraph with the advantages and disadvantages of the given topic. If we continue with my example of English in German schools, you can discuss how English is a global language, and it will help the students in the future. However, maybe there are more important subjects for young children to be focusing on other than English.

Die einen sind der Meinung... Die anderen hingegen...
Einerseits... Andererseits...

Now it is time to get personal. So, start off by writing a about how this topic relates to your home country. I am from the U.S. So, if it is about English classes in Germany, I would write something about how students in the U.S. do not begin learning a second language until age 14. About 2-3 sentences about your home country is more than enough.

Bei uns...

Close this section off with a few sentences stating your own opinion on the subject. It does not matter what your opinion is, you just have to formulate your argument well.

Meiner Meinung nach ist es besser...

Time: 10 minutes
Lenth: 3-4 sentences

It is important to wrap it all up with a nice conclusion. Remember that the TestDaF is testing if you are ready to go to a German university, so it is important that your essay is not only well-written, but well-constructed. 

Zusammenfassend kann man sagen...

If you follow my time suggestions, you will have an extra 10 minutes at the end to read everything over. It is very important to leave yourself this extra time. Stupid grammar mistakes happen, and catching these is important if you want to get a 4 or 5.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tips for the TestDaF: Hörverstehen

3 Sections
25 Questions
40 Minutes

The second section of the TestDaF is listening comprehension (Hörverstehen). It is comprised of three sections. Before each section starts, you will receive a couple minutes to read over the questions. You should take this time to highlight the important parts of each question. Then, when the text begins, you already know what to listen for. Each text will answer the questions in order. You will hear the first two sections once and the third section twice. Each section increases in difficulty.

Hörtext 1:

For the first section, you will hear a conversation between two people, typically students. The questions (1-8) are all pretty simple, but you will need to write out the answers yourself. What makes this exercise especially easy is that the first speaker will ask all of the questions listed (1-8) almost verbatim. Then the other speaker will provide all of the answers.

Example Questions:

Welches Fach studiert der Student?
Welcher Kurs fehlt dem Student noch?

  • Do not write out full sentences
  • Don't overthink it -- the answers are often just 1-2 words

Hörtext 2:

Next, you will hear an interview. It is typically between a journalist and one or two scientist(s) or researcher(s). This means that questions are more scientific in nature, but the way you answer the questions (9-18) makes it not too difficult. For each question, you just have to check off whether the statement it is true (Richtig) or false (Falsch).

Example Questions:

Dr. Müller findet es schwierig, Beruf und Familie zusammen zu bringen.
Die Interviewerin glaubt, dass Arzt einer der schwierigste Berufe ist.

  • It moves fast, so use the time at the beginning to read all of the questions thoroughly
  • When the text starts, make sure to keep up
  • If you miss an answer, leave it blank and move on to the next
  • At the end, make an educated guess for any you missed -- you have a 50% chance!

Hörtext 3:

They have saved the hardest for last. In this exercise, you will hear a speech from a researcher or scientist about their work. The questions (19-25) are open-ended and typically require you to write out a longer answer. Luckily, you will hear the text two times, with a few minutes in between to collect your answers and figure out what is missing.

Example Questions:

Welche Vorteile hat Atomkraft im Vergleich zu anderen Energiequellen?
Warum ist die Abfallbeseitigung ein Problem bei Atomkraft?

  • It's normal to only get half of the answers the first time, don't worry about it
  • Switch to a different colored pen for the second time the text is read
  • During the second time, check that all the questions you already answered are correct while also filling in blanks
  • Do not overthink it -- some answers are just 2-3 words

After the third section is over, you receive 10 minutes to copy your answers onto the answer sheet. For exercises 1 and 3, you do not have to write full sentences. Nearly all questions can be answered in 1-3 words. Do not stress too much about grammar either -- they just have to be able to understand your answer, it does not matter if you used das instead of der.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tips for the TestDaF: Leseverstehen

3 Texts
30 Questions
60 minutes

The first part of the TestDaF is reading comprehension (Leseverstehen). It is comprised of three sections, each of which is harder than the last. So, before you dive into the test, you should know how each text is presented and how the questions are formatted.

Lesetext 1:
Time: 10 Minutes

The first text is composed of 8 short descriptions labeled A through H. On the answer sheet, you will find 2 examples (01-02) and 10 graded questions (1-10).
Your job is to read each of the statements (1-10), and then find the matching description (A-H). Since there are only 8 descriptions, and A was already used for the example question (01), you will have to mark three of the statements (1-10) with an I. Marking a statement I means that there is no description that fits for that student.


Sie suchen ein Buch für...
1. eine Schülerin, die ein Referat über die Geschichte europäischer Länder halten muss.
2. eine Studentin, die sich für Lyrik interessiert.
3. einen Freund, der eine Gedichtanalyse schreiben muss.

A. Welches Gedicht passt zu mir? Französische Liebesgedichte (€8.90) Dieses Buch bietet über 150 verschiedene Liebesgedichte von zeitgenössischen französischen Dichtern. In diesem liebevoll gestalteten Band kann jeder das perfekte Gedicht, dass zu seinem Liebesleben passt, finden.

B. Europäische Geschichte Kompakt (€29.90) Dieses gewaltige Nachschlagwerk beweist, dass Geschichte Spaß machen kann. Dieses Buch ist ein attraktives Geschenk für Jungendliche, die sich für europäische Geschichte interessieren.

In this example, it is pretty clear that number 1 is B. Numbers 2 and 3, however, each have to do with poems. Read the description, however, and you realize that A would not be much help for an analysis. So, 2 is A, and you should mark 3 with an I.

1. B
2. A
3. I

The topic for this section does change (books, classes, internships, jobs, etc.), but the format is always the same.

  • Start by reading each of the texts first (A-H) to get a feel for what is offered
  • Read #1 and pick a text that fits (or mark I if no text fits)
  • Move on through the questions picking a text as you go
  • Only go back when you run into a text that fits for two numbers, then you can compare them both and make the call as to which is the better fit 
  • Do not spend more than 10 minutes on this section

Lesetext 2:
Time: 20 Minutes

This is the most straightforward section. You are given a one-page article about some kind of scientific study and then ten multiple choice questions (11-20), each of which has three options (A, B, C). The good part here is that the questions occur in order as you read the text.

  • Read the example question (0) before reading the article
  • Begin reading the article, and stop once you get to where the answer of the example question is written
  • Read the next question (1) and answers (A-C)
  • Continue reading article from where you stop until you reach the answer
  • Make a note of where this answer is with a highlighter or pen
  • Circle the correct answer
  • Continue through the text this way (check the next question, continue reading the article until you find the answer) 
  • Do not spend more than 20 minutes on this section

Lesetext 3:
Time: 20 Minutes

This is by far the most difficult one. The text itself is very similar to Lesetext 2, but the questions are a lot different. Basically, you are given ten statements (21-30), and you have to decide if they are true (ja), false (nein), or it is not stated in the text (Text sagt dazu nichts). 

It is very clear when the answer is "Ja.". The problem comes when you must decide between "Nein" and "Text sagt dazu nichts."


1. Wegen des Strahlungsrisikos protestieren große Teile der Bevölkerung gegen die Atomkraft.

In the text:
Als weiteres wichtiges Standbein der Energieversorgung dient derzeit noch die Atomkraft. Wegen der Strahlungsrisiken der Kernspaltung und ihrer Abfallprodukte wird über diese Art der Energieerzeugung kontrovers diskutiert.

We know that it is a controversial topic that is being discussed. However, the text does not say anything about protests. Since it does not directly say whether or not protests are being held, the answer to this would be "Text sagt dazu nichts."
  • Answer all of the questions in order as you would with Lesetext 2
  • Generally, 3 of the 10 answers will be "Text sagt dazu nichts"
    • This is a tip I got from my teacher, who has been working with the TestDaF for decades. So, this is not necessarily going to be true 100% of the time, but she said it was something she has noticed with every test she has seen
  • Do not spend more than 20 minutes on this section

If you follow the suggested time frame, you will have 10 minutes at the end to copy your answers onto the answer sheet and to look over your answers.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!

Tips for the TestDaF

The TestDaF (Deutsch als Fremdsprache) is an advanced German language exam that is meant to test the proficiency of those who want to study at a German university. So, the topics of the test are mostly academic. The test is composed of four sections:

Each of these sections is graded separately, with 5 as the best score possible for each section. Most universities require students to have at least a 4 on all sections. I took the exam in February 2014, and you can see my TestDaF results here.

When preparing for the TestDaF, it is important to remember that it is a standardized test. This means that you, as the test-taker, should study the format ahead of time to prepare yourself for the type of questions they will ask. To help you do this, I have created a four-part guide with tips for each section of the TestDaF. Check them out below, and good luck!

Monday, April 7, 2014

German Problems: Bottle Deposit

When you purchase a bottled or canned drink in Germany, you typically have to pay a deposit (Pfand). You can tell this by whether or not the label has this symbol on it.

Then, you can bring all of your empty drinks back to the grocery store, put them into a nice machine at the front, and it will spit out a coupon. Give this coupon to the cashier, and they will either give you your money back, or simply take it off of your grocery bill.

For the soft plastic bottles that can only be used once (Einweg), this deposit is 25 cents. For hard plastic and glass bottles that are sterilized and used again (Mehrweg), this is 8 or 15 cents.

For the shocked Americans reading that statement: Yes, glass and plastic bottles are cleaned and reused over and over again. I have read that the average beer bottle is reused 15 times.

Anyways, I really love the whole deposit system. It is a great way to get people to recycle, and it always feels like you are getting free money when you bring your bottles back to the store. The problem is that Marco likes to reuse the 1 Liter plastic bottles at work. So, when I visited his office the other day, I saw this bottle on his desk.

"Oh no!" I said, "the machine probably won't be able to scan that anymore!"

So, we brought this bottle to the grocery store that evening, and sure enough, the damn machine would not take it.


Luckily, you can just give the bottle directly to the cashier, but this is not nearly as efficient. At least we got our 25 cents back, though.
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