There is no straight translation for the German words “doch”. In fact, when I was learning English I struggled to find according expressions for this word in the English language. For learners of the German language this tiny word poses the same challenges. This short, yet iffy word can lead to a lot of confusion when learning German as it does not exist in a straight forward translation in English. It can be used in various meanings. I want to try today to shed some light around this little word.
The German word “doch” can be used to express different meanings. Let’s use some examples:
Frank hat verspochen zu kommen, doch er kann nicht. — Frank has promised to come, but he cannot.
Ich habe es mehrmals probiert, doch es geht nicht. — I have tried it several times, but it does not work.
In this case, we can use ‘but’ or ‘yet’ in English.
Dann ist Frank doch nach Berlin gefahren. — So Frank did go to Berlin (after all).
Schade, dass Marie doch nicht kommen konnte. — It a pity, that Marie couldn’t come (after all).
In this case, we can transcribe the German word “doch” with ‘after all’. As you can see it is used in the sense that those people (Frank and Marie) had stated something different in the beginning than what they did.
Du kannst jetzt nicht rausgehen. Es regnet doch. — You cannot go outside right now because (since) it is raining.
The second sentence just explains the “Why” in this case. In English you can transcribe it with ‘because’ or ‘since’.
For this one we need a little dialog to arrive at the meaning:
Frank: Ich kann eine Stunde rennen ohne aufzuhören. — I can run for an hour without stopping.
Michael: Ich kann das auch. — I can do that too.
Frank: Kannst Du nicht! — You cannot.
Michael: Doch. (Ich kann es Dir zeigen.) — Indeed, I can. (I can prove it.)
“Doch” in this example is used to express the contrary to a statement from another person and to erase doubts expressed by another person. It always follows a scheme like this:
- Statement Person A
- Person B agrees
- Person A has doubts
- Person B wanted to erase doubts
The German word “Doch” is used in many other expressions and idioms. Just a few examples here:
Versuchs doch mal! – Just try it!
Nicht doch! – Don’t! Stop it!
Hör doch auf! – Give it a rest!
Ich hoffe doch. – I hope so.
Sicher doch. – Oh, sure!
In addition, you find some great translation example in Linguee: