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die Schuld

Germans are quite conservative when it comes to taking on debt and using credit cards.
And at least part of the reason might be the language itself, because German uses the same word for debt, guilt and fault die Schuld.

Here are some examples for the theme of guilt

  • Das ist meine Schuld.
  • That’s my fault.
  • Ich bin unschuldig.
  • I’m innocent/not guilty.
  • Ich entschuldige mich.
  • I apologize. (literally: to de-guilt oneself)

And here are some examples for debt.

  • Thomas schuldet Maria 1.000 Euro.
  • Thomas owes Maria 1.000 Euro.
  • Das Unternehmen hat hohe Schulden.
  • The company has a lot of debt.
    (Schulden is usually used in plural here)

Even when used for the idea of debt, the words have a negative touch, like you they’re something bad or at least not the best choice. And so Schulden (general debt) is not something you want to have.

By the way… die Schuld actually has a very surprising and revealing English relative: should.

The core theme of it was simply what you “should give someone” – the “should”. And that can be money, but also an apology if you did them wrong.

If you want to learn more about the family and see some more useful words in it, check out this article on YourDailyGerman:

Word of the Day – “die Schuld”