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  5. "Den Hund beißt der Mann."

"Den Hund beißt der Mann."

Translation:The man is biting the dog.

October 8, 2015

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The dog bites the man is wrong? Does this actually mean the man bites the dog?


Strange as it may be, Yes. If the sentence was written: "Der Hund beißt den Mann." it would mean "The dog bites /is biting the man." You could also write this in Passive voice as: "Der Mann wird von dem Hund gebissen." (The man is being bitten by the dog.)


Der Mann wird von dem Hund gebissen

Since your example uses werden, wouldn't it mean "The man will be bitten by the dog"?


werden is used both for the future and for the passive voice. If the verb at the end is infinitive, it's future. If it's the past participle, it's passive.

Der Mann wird beißen. - The man will bite.

Der Mann wird gebissen. - The man is bitten.

Der Mann wird gebissen werden. - The man will be bitten.


Yes it does. German word order is more flexible than English's because the role a word plays in the sentence is marked by case instead of position.

Den Hund is in the accusative case (den is the accusative form of der), so it is the object.

Der Mann is nominative case, so it is the subject.


It should be mentioned that the feminine and neuter articles' nominative and accusative forms are the same, but Germans will still use them in whatever order they like. You have to watch out for stress and context.


Is there a good reason as to why the direct object and subject are switched position wise?


You can write it the other way as well, "Der Hund beißt den Mann". German language gives the flexibility to change the positions of object and subject. The meaning is still preserved because of the Nominative and Accusative cases given by the articles "der" and "den".


Additionally, putting the object or direct object in front of the verb instead of after puts emphasis on it.

So in the case, the sentence is akin to saying "The man bites the dog" (rather than something else).

  • 2159

okay natives:

in this one who bites who and why?

das Madchen beisst die Frau.


Not a native, but if the conjugation doesn't tell you, you just assume it's standard subject-verb-object word order (unless, of course, context says otherwise). So the girl bites the woman.

  • 1811

You would assume the default Subject - Verb - Object, so the girl is the rabid one. However, in spoken language, you could differentiate by intonation: "das MÄDCHEN beisst die Frau" (rabid woman) vs. "das Mädchen beisst die FRAU" (rabid girl)


"The dog is getting bitten by the man" Why is this not correct? The dog is the one getting bitten


The meaning is the same but you are using the verb "is getting bitten" here, in place of "beißt" which means just "bites". Further, the sentence "The dog is getting bitten by the man" is a sentence in passive voice. In passive voice you must use the verb "beißen" in the third form, which is "gebissen". Similar to English where you must use "to bite" in the third form, "bitten"

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