So as we all know in both Englisch und Deutsch there are many nouns/verbs that either mean the same or close to the same as eachother, but are chosen based on the context (ex: damp, moist, soggy, etc..). Look up any adjective/noun/verb on either LEO or Dict.cc and there will be at least five different words to choose from.

My issue is picking the word the best fits a given context. For example the english word "waiting game". LEO (since I have the app) told me it was Verzögerungstaktik.I wrote my Sentence that I would put on Twitter and ran it by my soulmate (who is a native German speaker), & she replaced the word w/Hinhaltespiel. Asked her why since LEO gave it as the only noun translation. She said it did not fit well in the sentence, and that the machine doesn't know about context like a native speaker does (true).

As a non native speaker, is there some methodology I can use to accurately choose the appropriate noun/verb for the desired context?

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    Choose the right soulmate, as you have demonstrated. Seriously, this is precisely the kind of thing that software is not good at figuring out; there is steady but still inadequate progress, simply because human contexts are so various and changeable, and also because everyone has their own unique description of them, leading to a multiplicity of possible interpretations. As the linear algebra machines get better and the Deep Learning networks get more accomplished, the situation might improve; but don't hold your breath. – jlawler Jun 14 '17 at 19:13
  • TBH, as a native speaker, I don't like her substitution at all. Sounds like an ad-hoc direct translation and nothing I would use on the "Grüne Wiese". – hiergiltdiestfu Jun 15 '17 at 6:59
  • All the Books (tm) backs me up on this: books.google.com/ngrams/… - "Hinhaltespiel" is basically made up. While parseable and understandable by natives, it's - at best - a neologism. – hiergiltdiestfu Jun 15 '17 at 7:01
  • @jlawler Yes, those maschines will improve over time. Without using machines, will I just have to go through the "trial by fire" route to understand a "feel" for which words are used when? – HalbDeutschMann Jun 17 '17 at 16:36
  • @hiergiltdiestfu Ad-hoc? What is that? – HalbDeutschMann Jun 17 '17 at 16:37

When I was learning German I was advised to buy a Stilwörterbuch (by Duden, as I recall) which provides this kind of context and usage. It's used like a dictionary, in that you look up the word (e.g. Verzögerungstaktik) and if it's in there it gives examples of usage, context, and idioms containing it.

If you haven't got such a reference I would suggest googling the word that you're planning on using or using Linguee (Linguee.de exists) which searches for the word in corpora and returns excerpts from real-word documents that contain and use the word. Asking Linguee for verzögerungstaktik yields this: http://www.linguee.de/deutsch-englisch/uebersetzung/verzögerungstaktik.html

and asking it for Hinhaltespiel yield "Keine Ergebnisse für Hinhaltespiel" which very much suggests, as per the comments above, that your soulmate is wrong on this occasion.

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