What is the most difficult word in the German language?

According to urban legends, the most difficult words in the German language are long words.

There is one word in the German language that is by far the most difficult word in German and it causes real despair to some people who learn German and has no less than 13 different meanings.

13 different meanings… oh my God. Students who learn German with me know what word I am talking about and people who read this article now and have just started learning German will ask themselves the question “what is this word?

The most difficult word in German has only two letters “zu” and can be used in the grammatical contexts explained below:

 

The word zu can be used as an adverb and means in this grammatical context “too much”.

“In der Sahara ist es zu warm”

 

The use of the word zu as a local preposition and its translation into Englisch  is “to” and is also used to indicate that one is travelling to meet a person or go to their home.

“Peter geht zum Frisör”

“Die Kinder gehen zur Schule”

“Ich gehe zu Michael”

 

The use of the word zu as an adverb to express that something is closed

“Die Tür ist zu”

 

The use of the word zu in the construction of so-called infinitive sentences

“Peter hat vergessen, die Hausaufgaben zu machen”

 

The use of the word zu to express a purpose with the construction “um…..zu

“Peter lernt italienisch, um bei Alfa Romeo zu arbeiten”

 

The word zu is used in fixed expresions

“ab und zu” “Peter lernt ab und zu Italienisch

“zu viel zu tun”  Too many things to do

 

We’re halfway there… do you want to know more about the most difficult word in the German language?Ok, let’s continue…

The word zu can be used instead of dass.

“Ich habe die Gewissheit, die Aufgabe bewältigen zu können.

With dass:

“Ich habe die Gewissheit, dass ich die Aufgabe bewältigen kann”.

 

The word zu is used in separable verbs

“zumachen, zuhören” etc.

 

The word zu is used as a preposition linked to some verbs

“einladen zu, gratulieren zu” etc.

 

The word zu is used with some so called nominalised verbs.

“Michael geht zum Einkaufen”

 

As a time preposition

“Sabine fährt zu Ostern nach Berlin

 

The word zu is used to say that one is at home

“Peter ist zu Hause”

 

In the context “ohne zu” without

“Peter ist ohne zu essen zum Training gegangen”

This has been all the information about the most difficult word in the German language.