Words of the Week

Memorial Words

Memorial (or ’S Ohdenkes) Words

Here are a few common words that are used when talking about the Memorial of Christ’s Death (also known as ’s Ohdenkes or ’s Nachtmohl).

  • pass (around) verb = rumm passa
    Miah zayla’s broht rumm passa.
  • the Passover = da Passover
  • lost verb = faloahra past tense

These articles may also be helpful to find phrases involving the Memorial and Jesus’ death:

Words of the Week

Meeting Parts Names

The format of the midweek meetings were updated in January 2024, and with that, some of the names of the sections and parts have been adjusted. This means that some of the translated Deitsh names have been updated as well.

Midweek Meeting (Deichdivoch Fasamling)

Our Christian Life and Ministry = Unsah Ministry un Vi Miah Layva

Treasures From God’s Word = Treasures Funn di Bivvel
  • The Treasures Talk = Da Treasures Talk
  • Spiritual Gems = Spiritual Gems Keshtlichi Sacha

Apply Yourself to the Field Ministry = Fa Bessah Vadda in di Ministry
  • Starting a Conversation = En Conversation Shteahra
  • Following Up = Viddah Zrikk Gay
  • Making Disciples = Yingah Macha
  • Explaining Your Beliefs = Dei Glawva Ekshplayna
Living as Christians = Fa Layva vi Christians
  • Congregation Bible Study = Congregation Bivvel Shtoddi
Language Tips

Time Words and Verb Order

Pennsylvania Dutch follows grammar rules as to where verbs are put in a sentence. *

But when a sentence starts with time words, the verb order changes. How?

⌚ What are time words?

First, what are time words?

A time word is any word or phrase that is something time-related. Here are some common time words.

S’eahsht (First)

Fa shteahra mitt (To start with)

Heit (Today)

Nau (Now)

An selli zeit (At that time)

Noch sell (After that)

Awl ufamoll (All at once)

Neksht (Next)

Daylmohls / Alsamohl (Sometimes)

Dimeiya (This morning)

No (Then)

S’letsht yoah (Last year)

Meiya (Tomorrow)

Nuff biss nau (Up until now)

S’letsht moll (Last time)

Funn da shteaht (From the start)

Geshtah (Yesterday)

Glei (Soon)

Neksht voch (Next week)

Biss no (Until then)

Vann … (When …)

There are others, but this gives you a good idea of what a time word/phrase is.

How do time words affect sentences?

In a simple statement, the subject (noun) usually goes first. Then the first verb follows in the sentence. But when a sentence starts with a time word or phrase, the verb jumps in front of the subject.

In the next examples, notice where the verb (italics) is in each sentence. Then, look how the noun and verb change order when the same sentence starts with a time word (bold).

EnglishPennsylvania Dutch
We can sing a song.Miah kenna en song singa.
Now, we can sing a song.Nau kenna miah en song singa.
It will be winter.Es zayld vindah sei.
Soon, it will be winter.Glei zayld’s vindah sei.
We can go.Miah kenna gay.
Then we can go.No kenna miah gay.
Everything changed.Alles hott getshaynsht.
All of a sudden, everything changed.Awl ufamoll hott alles getshaynsht.
I had a dog back then.Ich habb en hund katt zrikk no.
Back then, I had a dog.Zrikk no, havvich en hund katt.
Examples with and without time words at the start of sentences.
  • Do you see how time words change where the first verb goes?

Now, look at the last 2 sentences in the examples above.

  • See how time words only affect the verb order when they are at the start of the sentence?
  • When time words are at the end of a sentence, the rest of the sentence is normal.

Bonus Words

There are some other words that are not time words, but also follow the same rules.

  • Fleicht (Maybe)
    Ich kann zrikk kumma.
    Fleicht kann ich zrikk kumma.
  • Location words (In Japan, …)
    Es sinn feel traditions es leit doon in iahra layva.
    In Japan, sinn es feel traditions es leit doon in iahra layva.


When you start a sentence with a time word, expect your next word to be a verb.

* You can read more about those rules in the book, Vella Bessah Deitsh Shvetza (PDF). (pages 27 through 31)

Confusing Words Language Tips

missa nett and daufa nett

The word missa means must in English. But how do you say something must not be done (as in, it’s not allowed) in Pennsylvania Dutch? Missa nett…, right?

Using missa with nett

The word missa is often mistakenly used along with nett to say “must not” — as in, it’s not allowed; it’s something we cannot do.

Let’s look at an example.

You want to say (EN)If you sayHow it sounds to a Deitsh speaker
We must not steal.Miah missa nett shtayla.It’s not required that we steal. It would probably be okay, but we don’t have to.
⛔ Wrong way
You want to say (EN)If you sayHow it sounds to a Deitsh speaker
We must not steal.Miah daufa nett shtayla.We must not steal. Stealing is not allowed.
✅ Correct way

Use daufa nett instead

To a native speaker, missa nett is like saying it probably would be ok, but we don’t have to. In other words, it’s not something that’s required.

Instead, you should use: daufa nett

👍🏻 Miah daufa nett shtayla. (PG meaning: We must not steal.)

In this case, daufa means allowed. So daufa nett means “not allowed”.

How to correctly use missa nett

There are some correct ways of using missa nett:

Miah missa nett peiyneera, avvah miah kenna vann miah vella. (We don’t have to; it’s not required.)

Miah missa nimmi unsah placements counta. (We’re no longer required.)

In the above examples, you would be saying: we’re not required to…

Using missa by itself

Good news: When used by itself, missa does mean “we must”; as in something we are required or that we have to do.


Miah missa du vass Jehova havva vill.

Miah missa ice cream havva.

Miah missa anri leit lanna veyyich Jehova.

Miah missa bayda.


  1. Must = missa (as in has to be done)
  2. Must not = daufa nett (as in not allowed)
  3. Not required = missa nett (as in doesn’t have to be done)
Confusing Words Words of the Week

patient and geduldich

Most native Pennsylvania Dutch speakers will understand both the words patient and geduldich. But when would it be best to each?

Patience noun (the quality)

  1. patience (more common)
    Du musht may patience havva.
  2. geduld (less common outside of the Bible, but understood by most. Most commonly used if at end of sentence along with mitt)
    Gott sei geduld is’n kshenk.
    Miah missa’s ohnemma mitt geduld.

Patient adj (what someone is or can become)

  1. patient
    See is immah patient mitt iahra kinnah.
    Sei patient mitt si.
  2. geduldich
    Gott is geduldich mitt uns.

Patiently adv = patiently (how someone does something)
Ich binn am patiently voahra biss ich healthy binn.

💡 Patience, patient, patiently can also give idea of endurance (continuing on with something hard to deal with).


  • When talking about about something from the Bible, or a Bible subject, geduld and geduldich are very common.
  • But if having a casual conversation, it would be more common to use patience and patient instead.
  • And if talking about someone patiently doing something or patiently waiting, then you’re safer to use the English word patiently.
Confusing Words Language Tips

Figures of Speech: Walking and Running

Many Pennyslvania Dutch figures of speech are similar to ones in English; but often slightly different. This is true when it comes to talking about things that are said to “run” in English.

In English, some things are said to run—even though they don’t have legs.

  • A river or stream runs
  • Tears can run down your face
  • Liquids can run over (as in overflow)

But in Pennsylvania Dutch, those inanimate objects (things without real legs) are usually said to ‘walk’ (lawfa).


  • A river walks
    Da revvah lawft.
    Di revvahra lawfa deich di valley.
    Da revvah is gloffa biss’s ufgedrikkeld vadda is.
  • Tears walk down someone’s face
    ’S awwa-vassah lawft ivvah iahra bakka nunnah.
  • When water or liquids overflow in Deitsh, they “walk over”
    ’S vassah is am ivvah-lawfa!
    Da revvah zayld ivvah-lawfa noch da shtoahm.


There are a couple of exceptions.

  1. Motors and equipment do “run” (shpringa) in Pennsylvania Dutch (generators, refrigerators, washing machines, motors, and cars and trucks)
  2. Of course, animals and people who can literally “run” and “walk” (they have legs) still shpringa and lawfa in Pennsylvania Dutch.

These differences in figures of speech are a reminder of the unique culture and thinking of native Pennsylvania Dutch speakers.

Confusing Words Words of the Week

shpringa and shprenga

What’s the difference between the Deitsh words shpringa and shprenga?

Both of the words shpringa and shprenga are verbs (action words) that mean to run.

Shpringa verb = to run (as in movement, or to work and function)

Shprenga verb = to run (as in to operate something else)


Jon Heder Running GIF by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment - Find & Share on GIPHY

Use shpringa when you’re talking about running (movement).

Ich shtay uf free meiyets so’s ich shpringa kann.

’S hutshli shpringd.

You can also use shpringa when you’re talking about something that is operating (working/running).

Gears GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

’Sis gans laut koss di generator am shpringa is.


Grading Blue Collar GIF by JC Property Professionals - Find & Share on GIPHY

Use shprenga when you’re talking about operating something else—usually a piece of equipment or a machine.

Da Colton is di generator am shprenga.

See shprengd’s vesha machine Moondawks.

Du bisht dei maul am shprenga!

Language Tips

Daviess County, Indiana


Daviess County is in the southwest part of Indiana. There are at least 10,000 Amish who speak Pennsylvania Dutch, along with many Mennonite families who also may speak the language.

As with any language, some say certain words differently, and those words really stand out to someone from another area. This is definitely true with Pennsylvania Dutch speakers.

Living in Daviess County myself, I notice some differences in how those in this county say certain words. Part of this may be because the Amish who first settled in Daviess County arrived more directly from Germany to this area.

Southern accent

If you travel to Daviess County or meet someone from here, the first thing that will stand out is their strong southern accent.

But you’ll also notice some other differences.

Since these are regional differences, I will not be putting them in the regular Pennsylvania Dutch Words List. But if you live nearby, this is a good page to bookmark.

ei has a long eye sound

Daviess County Amish say words with the letter combination ei with a long eye sound (similar to parts of Pennsylvania) instead of the more common ay sound.

ww becomes gg

Words that have double w‘s are often said with g‘s.

  • (eyes) awwa = agga
  • (to say) sawwa = sagga

yy becomes gg

A lot of words that have double y‘s in them are said with double g‘s instead.

v and vv become b

Some words with a single v or double v‘s are said with a b.

  • (to have) havva = habba
  • (to die) shtauva = shtauba (sometimes shtarba)
  • (evening) ohvet = ohbet
  • (work/job) eahvet = eahbet (or sometimes arbet)
  • (seven) sivva = sibba

iahra and sei

The word iahra (their) is still used when talking about something that belongs to more than one person. But when talking about something belonging to a woman, most in Daviess County use sei instead of iahra.
Vass is dei fraw sei nohma?

The next time you meet someone from Daviess County, see if you can pick out some of these words.

Confusing Words Words of the Week

yau and yo

Is there more than one way to say ‘yes’ in Pennsylvania Dutch? Yes, actually.

  1. yes = yau (to agree; opposite of no)
  2. yes = yo (definitely yes or absolutely yes; for emphasis)
  3. yes = yo (actually yes)

1. yau = yes

The most common way you’ll say yes in Pennsylvania Dutch is yau.

Yau means exactly what you’d expect it to mean—yes. Use yau when answering questions. It’s uncomplicated, and the opposite of nay (no).


While yo also means yes, knowing when and how to use yo is trickier and depends on the conversation.

… knowing when and how to use yo is trickier and depends on the conversation.

Let’s look at 2 of the most common ways to use yo in a Pennsylvania Dutch conversation.

2. yo = definitely yes

In some areas, yo is used to emphasize yes—as in, definitely yes. It can be used either in response to a question, or to a statement you really agree with.

Examples of definitely yes

Vitt samm ice cream?
Yo, ich du!

Eah is reeli am vaxa.
Yo, yo, yo.

3. yo = yes (actually)

You can also use yo for yes when responding to a question or statement that the other person assumes the answer to is no. Probably the closest to English would be: actually yes.


Person 1: ’Sis am shnaya grawt nau. Du bisht nett am do hivva kumma, gell?
Person 2: Yo. Ich zayl glei datt sei.

In the example, person 1 doesn’t expect person 2 to be coming over since it’s snowing. However, person 2 says the equivalent of, “Actually, yes. I will be there soon.”

Another example:

Person 1: Da Henry shaft nett heit, gell?
Person 2: Yo. Eah shaft biss middawk.

Again, person 1 thought Henry wasn’t working today. But person 2 says that actually (yes), he works until lunch.

As you can imagine, this use of yo is pretty limited and you probably won’t use it very often. But it’s good to know in case you hear someone else say it to you.

Confusing Words Words of the Week

nevlich and dufftich

Both nevlich and dufftich are adjectives (description words) that mean foggy.

Foggy adj = nevlich (when speaking about the weather)

Foggy adj = dufftich (as in fogged up; glasses, windows, etc)

💡 What’s the Difference?


Heit is gans nevlich draus.

Use nevlich (foggy) when you’re talking about the weather—when it’s foggy outside and hard to see.

’Sis gans nevlich dimeiya.

’Sis am reiyra draus un nevlich dimeiya.


Di fenshtahra sinn dufftich.

On the other hand, use dufftich (foggy) when talking about an object that is fogged up; usually from steam or a difference in temperature—such as glass, windows, mirror, or eyeglasses.

Dufftich can also be used jokingly:

Mei brain is dufftich dimeiya.