ein Paar = a pair of
ein paar = some / a few
In English, you might say "a pair of oranges", but in German, you wouldn't say "ein Paar Orangen", but "zwei Orangen" because oranges don't necessarily come in pairs of two. "ein Paar" is reserved for things that do tend to/often come in pairs of two (ein Paar Schuhe / ein Paar Socken).
You mark in the lesson about food the word orange in german as femine -to be used with Die-, yet in the correction to this question you state it should be used with Ein -and not einE- as it masculine.
Isn't there a mistake here ? moreover, the "ein" should follow the genre of "Paar" rather than "Orangen".
Thanks a bunch for your answer and for this website, a cheap, yet efficient way of brushing up my -very- rusty german.
"Ein paar Orangen" is correct. Consider "A few oranges" "A" does not go with plural either but as "a few" is a unit, it is fine not to say it requires plural. "ein paar" + plural is correct. There is "paar" and Paar". "paar" is like "few"; it can be two of something but also more. "Paar" is two of something that comes in two like shoes -> "das Paar Schuhe" or "das Ehepaar"
when Paar is being used as a noun to mean 'a pair' it doesn't decline because nouns don't decline
When paar is being used as an adjective it declines as all adjectives do.
If there's no declension then you just have to go by context, but that's easy enough
I'm sure you can tell the difference between the word 'couple' in
'They are a lovely couple' and 'I have a couple of apples in my fruit bowl'
I came in all on fire to ask that, but it seems that when paar isn't capitalized, "Ein paar Orangen" is really "a few oranges" -- , it's just an unspecified small plural number of oranges.
Whereas "Ein Paar Orangen" is "a pair of oranges". Strictly.
I suppose when it's spoken, it's all about context.
In English, if you say "a few oranges" you imply that there are 3 or more oranges. Or if you say "a couple oranges" more often than not it is implied that there are only 2 oranges (although I've heard people say "a couple" referring to 3 or more, but in my opinion they should have said "a few". I might be being super technical or picky here.)
Anyways I'm confused, ein paar can translate into both a couple and a few? I could be wrong, but that seems a little contradictory or non-specific to me. Is there a distinction between the concepts of a couple and a few of something in German?
And if Ein Paar translates into a pair of something, like a specific set that is matched, is that where the translation to "a couple" comes in and not when ein paar is used?
Here is a wonderful (and deep) explanation of paar - http://yourdailygerman.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/meaning-paar/
In case you don't feel like reading the whole thing... (and it reiterate what others have previously said) is that basically there is:
"das Paar" (notice the capitalization) which is officially a noun and can mean a couple or a pair. I.e. Ich habe ein Paar Schuhe. (I have a pair of shoes) or "Thomas und Marie sind ein Paar." (Thomas and Marie are a couple.)
"paar" which is an adjective. I would not think of this version as "a couple."
To quote the above mentioned blog -- "The word paar, or actually the combination ein paar, is THE best translation for a few. And it is NOT used to indicate precisely 2 anymore. Ein paar something means 3 or more something. That is the reason why Germans keep using the word a couple the wrong way in English."
So I think of it as: "ein Paar" -> a couple/a pair and "ein paar" -> a few
That's because dropping the 'of' is a dialect feature and is not standard English.
For comparison lots of Northern English dialects shorten the phrase 'to the' to t' (pronounced 'tut') so 'I'm going t'shops' makes perfect sense in Lancashire in Yorkshire but is meaningless or confusing in most of the rest of the English speaking world.