Gell: One simple German word replaces any tag question like “isn’t it...”, “haven’t you...” or “weren’t they.”

A word that replaces all tag questions like “isn’t it…?”, “haven’t you…?” and “weren’t they…?”

With all the trouble that declination and conjugation are causing, learners will find it a real boon that there are certain areas where the German language is actually pretty straightforward. 

When I learned English, the so-called tag questions which you ask at the end of a sentence to request some kind of confirmation (“isn’t it…?”) gave me a good amount of struggle. I was used to the perfect simplicity that German provided. Here, you need just one single word (gell) that never changes and that you can use regardless of who you are speaking to and what has been said before. Many Germans don’t even mind pronouncing the “ll,” smearing the word into something like “ge’” or “ge’ah.”

Gell actually derives from the 3rd person subjunctive of the word gelten (“to apply”). So my best take on translating this universal tag question is “may it apply…?” So with this with this knowledge on hand, you are now equipped to start a perfectly awkward German small talk by asking Schönes Wetter heute, gell…? 

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