Learn how to use the Luxembourgish word “schonn”

You will come across the word schonn very often. Better get to know it quickly.

Schonn like some other words in Luxembourgish has more than one meaning.

Sometimes schonn doesn’t mean anything at all – at least not anything that can be simply translated by a single English word.

It may add emphasis, indicate impatience, or just be a filler, so a particle. But in general the Luxembourgish word schonn has over a dozen different meanings or functions. Translated into English, schonn can become any of these English words: already, as early as, before, ever, just, okay, quite, really, very, yes-but, yet. Let’s look at the many meanings of schonn.

1. SCHONN (ewell) – already

This is the most common meaning and the one that beginners usually learn first. But even in the basic meaning of alreadyschonn is often not translated into English. In some of the following examples, English either ignores schonn or uses a word other than already:

Examples:

Ech hunn dir dat schonn dräimol gesot. I’ve already told you that three times.
Hutt dir dat scho gelies? Have you read that already?
Hatt ass schonn do! She’s here (already).
Ech waarde scho säit Wochen. I’ve been waiting for weeks now.

2. SCHONN (schonn eemol) –  before

This expression with schonn usually means before, as in I’ve heard that before.

Examples:

Ech hunn dat schonn eemol héieren. I’ve heard that before.
Wie vun iech war schonn eemol am Wantersport ? Which one of you has ever been in the winter sports (before)?

3. SCHONN (schonn erëm) –  again

The phrase schonn (e)rëm (=again) works in a similar way as schonn eemol .

Examples:

Do ass hatt scho rëm. There she is again./She’s back again.
Wat? Scho rëm? What? Again?

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4. SCHONN (in questions) – yet / ever 

In a question, schonn may be translated into English by yet, ever, or earlier than expected. But sometimes it is left untranslated.

Examples:

Bass du scho fäerdeg? Are you finished yet?
Kënnt hien haut schonn? Is he coming today?
Waart Dir schonn do? Have you ever been there?/Have you been there (yet)?
Muss du scho goen? Do you have to go yet (so soon)?

5. SCHONN (bestëmmt) – all right / don’t worry

Schonn used with the future tense can convey the idea of encouragement, certainty, or lack of doubt:

Examples:

Du wäerts den Test scho packen. You’ll pass the test, for sure/don’t worry.
Hie wäert scho gesinn. He’ll see (all right).
Maach der keng Suergen. Ech wäert schonn oppassen. Don’t worry. I’ll watch out (all right/okay.)

6. SCHONN  – Do!/Come on!

In commands, schonn conveys the idea of urgency. In other cases, it can indicate impatience or encouragement.

Géi schonn! Go on!/Do get a move on!
Ech komme jo schonn! (Just hold on to your hat,) I’m coming!
Wa schonn nëmmen … If only…

7. SCHONN  – Yes, but …

Schonn can indicate reservations, uncertainty, or limitations. In such cases, the schonn phrase is usually followed by awer / mee (but).

Examples:

D’Stad ass jo schonn eng schéi Stad, awer… Sure, Luxembourg city is a beautiful city, but…
Do hues du scho Recht, mee… Yes, you’re right, but…
Dat schonn, awer… That may be, but…

8. SCHONN – As a filler / particle

In some Luxembourgish idiomatic expressions, schonn is just a filler that sounds good and is usually not translated into English.

Scho gutt! Okay! All right!
Mir wäerte scho gesinn. We’ll see (about that).
Ech versti schonn. I understand./I get it.
Merci, et geet schonn. Thanks, I’ll/we’ll manage (okay).

9. SCHONN-  IF-Phrases

Used in a wann-phrase, schonn has a conditional, idiomatic meaning, usually implying if so, then do it right or then go ahead.

Wann s du dat scho maach wëlls, da maach et och richtig! If you want to do that, then at least do it right!
Wann hatt scho goe muss… If she really must go… (then go ahead)
Wa schonn, da schonnYou might as well go whole hog!/In for a penny, in for a pound!

10. Expression

And remember this commonly used expression by native speakers:

Dat ass scho laang hier! That’s a long time ago!

As you might have realized, it is crucial to learn each word in its context. Vocabulary lists can only be a rough guide through the vast jungle of the Luxembourgish language. Don’t try to learn these all at once. Now you might at least  faintly remember having heard a meaning of schonn when you encounter it in an unusual situation.

 (Learn the different pronunciations of schonn on youtube)


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