I am learning German, and I find many of the concepts taught in C1 very unnatural. For example Partizipialsatz, konsekutive Konnektoren (folglich, infolgedessen etc) seem to be almost never used in common speech. Heck, I'd go so far as to say that in 99% of normal speech and what one would find in normal videos, there is no usage of these things.

Other than things like pronunciation and accent, what differentiates those who are intermediate from advanced in a practical setting?

  • 3
    These levels are not only for spoken language in informal contexts. Yes, some things you will learn will be most useful in formal contexts (writing reports, giving presentations). You may also find that your skills in informal settings are ahead of those in formal settings. Whether you consider reports and presentations "natural" is terminological, of course.
    – Keelan
    Sep 22, 2023 at 10:42

2 Answers 2


In the CEFR, levels C1 and C2 are not about how much grammar you know but about the range of linguistic skills you have. Below are the "can ..." statements for level C2 in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) self-assessment grid

  • Listening: I have no difficulty in understanding any kind of spoken language, whether live or broadcast, even when delivered at fast native speed, provided I have some time to get familiar with the accent.
  • Reading: I can read with ease virtually all forms of the written language, including abstract, structurally or linguistically complex texts such as manuals, specialised articles and literary works.
  • Speaking:
    • I can take part effortlessly in any conversation or discussion and have a good familiarity with idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms. I can express myself fluently and convey finer shades of meaning precisely. If I do have a problem I can backtrack and restructure around the difficulty so smoothly that other people are hardly aware of it.
    • I can present a clear, smoothly-flowing description or argument in a style appropriate to the context and with an effective logical structure which helps the recipient to notice and remember significant points.
  • Writing: I can write clear, smoothly-flowing text in an appropriate style. I can write complex letters, reports or articles which present a case with an effective logical structure which helps the recipient to notice and remember significant points. I can write summaries and reviews of professional or literary works.

This goes far beyond levels B1 and B2, but does not mention any specific grammatical structures, even in the more detailed CEFR documents, because the descriptions are intended to be language-neutral.

However, if you want to read and write German at level C2, i.e. "read with ease virtually all forms of the written language" and " write complex letters, reports or articles", you also need to master grammar that is not used in 99% of normal speech. To take the specific example of konsekutive Konnektoren, these are essential at levels C1 and C2 because you need to be able to write coherent texts rather than simply stringing sentences together. You can develop very good writing skills without ever using Partizipialsätze, but if you want to be able to read "virtually all forms of the written language", you need to understand them.

C2 used to be described as close to native, but this was abandoned in updates of the CEFR. (Even native speakers vary considerably in language skills.)


I work in academia, in both humanities and sciences. I need to be able to express and understand complex ideas. Often this can be done with simple sentences, and should be, but sometimes more advanced language comes to play.

And many people write academic texts with awful language, full of esoteric vocabulary and needlessly fancy grammar. I need to read these texts, too.

Moe advanced grammar also appears when reading non-academic literature not written for children, and often when reading news.

So, for me, highest level language skills are not unnatural, supernatural, Stygian, divine, or other such adjective. They are living and occasionally useful parts of the language.

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