Ach ich fühl den Schmerz: How to Report Pain (II)


When we are with the doctor, we can report pain in two ways:

A) Ich habe Schmerzen.

Der Schmerz means “pain,” but in singular it expresses mostly emotional pain. For physical pain we take the plural die Schmerzen.

Of course, you have to be specific. Therefore, you create compound nouns.

Ich habe Kopfschmerzen, Halsschmerzen, Schulterschmerzen, Rückenschmerzen, Bauchschmerzen.

If we refer to pain in limbs, we use the preposition in + dative.

Ich habe Schmerzen im Bein. Ich habe Schmerzen im Knie, im Arm, in der Hand, im Finger.

B) Mir tut XYZ weh.

Here, we begin with the dative personal pronoun. The separable verb wehtun means to ache.

Mir tut der Kopf weh. Mir tun die Ohren weh. A useful phrase for der Zahnarzt (dentist): Mir tut ein Zahn weh.

I wish you wonderful and pain free holidays, and – more than anything else – Gesundheit for 2015, success, peace, and happiness.
You will read my next update in early January. Bis dann.

Published by


Bernd Hendricks. Born in Duisburg, Germany. Based in Berlin. Writer, German Language Educator. I was six years old when I went to the opera for the first time. My Grandma took me to Hänsel und Gretel at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Duisburg. The first time I met an opera singer personally was during my time as foreign correspondent in New York when at a Christmas party a baritone pelted me with questions about the language of Zauberflöte. He was preparing for his role as Papageno. After my return to Berlin in September 2010, I have been giving German lessons to singers on their audition tours. My workshops in Berlin, Vienna, and London are based on my widely read book Ach, ich fühl’s—German for Opera Singers in Three Acts: Studying, Speaking, Singing. My latest book, Die Frist ist um—Navigate the Language of 10 German Operas, takes you on a journey through the language of the most popular and often performed operas in the German-speaking countries. I am also the author of several non-fiction books and two novels.

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