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  5. "Wir zeigen einem Kind die Ka…

"Wir zeigen einem Kind die Katze."

Translation:We are showing the cat to a child.

October 18, 2015



Is there a rule which dictates which comes first in a sentence, the direct or indirect object?


Generally, the indirect object comes first in German if direct object and indirect object are both nouns, but due to the case endings, it could be flipped around for a different emphasis. (One of the objects could even be put at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis.)

  • Wir zeigen einem Kind die Katze. (neutral word order)
  • Wir zeigen die Katze einem Kind.
  • Einem Kind zeigen wir die Katze.
  • Die Katze zeigen wir einem Kind.
  • (Zeigen tun wir einem Kind die Katze)
  • (Zeigen tun wir die Katze einem Kind)

If one of the objects is a noun and the other is a pronoun, then the pronoun comes first, regardless of whether that is the direct or the indirect object:

  • Wir zeigen sie einem Kind. (We show it to the child; We show the child it -- pronoun "sie" first, which is the direct object here)
  • Wir zeigen ihm die Katze. (We show it the cat -- pronoun "ihm" first, which is the indirect object here)

And if both objects are pronouns, then the direct object comes first:

  • Wir zeigen sie ihm. (We show him it. -- direct object pronoun "sie" first.)

The basic rule is that the indirect object comes first, unless the direct object is a pronoun.

Also, moving the indirect object to the end to emphasise it works better when it is indefinite -- this is usually new information and is more likely to be focussed than a definite noun, which is usually old information.

For example, Wir zeigen dem Kind eine Katze. is again neutral word order but the alternative Wir zeigen eine Katze dem Kind. does not sound very good to me, even though in the example above (Wir zeigen die Katze einem Kind.) this word order is a possible alternative.


Thank you. What purpose does "tun" serve in the last two sentences? Is it for emphasis?


It means "to do" and serves as a dummy verb to go in the second position if you want to emphasise the real verb by putting it first. Kind of like "Showing a child the cat is what we do".


Interesting that you say 'Showing a child the cat' as Duolingo marks that as incorrect


So if you wanted to swap the meaning to show a child to the cat you could keep the words in the same order but put "Wir zeigen ein Kind der Katze"? But this could be confusing as der is used as the fem. Genitive also so this could also mean that we show the cat which belongs to the child?


So if you wanted to swap the meaning to show a child to the cat you could keep the words in the same order but put "Wir zeigen ein Kind der Katze"?

Sort of.

The dative noun phrase should come first, in general: Wir zeigen der Katze ein Kind.

Sometimes, it's possible to put the dative last, to emphasise it. That would also be possible here.

In writing, that would indeed be ambiguous with "We show the one of the cat's children" -- but not really in practice, since putting the dative last is unusual word order and so der would usually be interpreted as genitive rather than dative.


Sorry I'm still having trouble understanding how the definite/indefinite thing fits into all this. How come in this sentence you wouldn't switch indirect and direct so that the definite article came first, ie Wir zeigen die Katze einem Kind? You say that doing that flip works best if the one you're moving to the end of the sentence is indefinite, which it is here. So why does that version sound bad to you?


I don't see why this is wrong. We are showing the child a cat.


Because the German sentence has the indefinite article "einem" before "Kind" and the definite article "die" before "Katze", but you switched those around and made "child" definite ("the") and "cat" indefinite ("a").


Is it just me, or does anybody hear a pop sound in the background, between "einem" and "Kind"?


Me too, wonder what it is.


Me too. It's a very well defined "pop", that's unusual for speech synthesis to make this sound, It might be an error in the engine. Sounds like something a real person could do.


May be it was made on purpose as black humor :p "Mh... pop Kind..."


I put " We are showing to a child the cat" and it's been marked wrong August 2016. Am I missing something?


That sounds odd to me - if the indirect object comes first, I would leave off the "to" in English (We are showing a child the cat).


DL said the correct answer was "We are showing the cat to a child" and as a native English speaker I believe that the use of "to" in the sentence I suggested adds some kind of specific inference, however I don't see that as enough of a reason to say the sentence is wrong either grammatically or in context. For example (hopefully!) if the verb is changed to "giving" the use of "to" sounds more acceptable. The reason why I included the "to" was to remind me which is the Direct and Indirect object in English, never-mind trying to get it right in German!


Yes, you can keep "to", but then English demands that the prepositional phrase must go after the direct object. This is an English grammar rule: "We are showing the cat to a child." or "We are showing a child the cat." are the only two possible alternatives in English. It is also: "I give a child a toy." or "I give a toy to a child." http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/indirectobject.htm


Your answer is sort of old fashioned but entirely correct and would be one of the ways we can phrase it in Dutch as well; we laten aan het kind zien, een kat The reason it's possibly miscounted is that you could in Deutch probably say that in exact form as well; in general i find this makes very little impact in practical speech; whether one says he is showing a cat to a child or he is showing the child a cat, we know by the context and way its said that a cat is being shown; or a child for that matter


Can someone please explain the difference between einen and einem?


einen is masculine accusative singular, einem is masculine or neuter dative singular.

Accusative is used, among other things, for direct objects of verbs, dative (among other things) for indirect objects of verbs -- for example, recipients of giving.


Couldn't it be "We are showing the child a cat"?


That would be a different sentence: “Wir zeigen dem Kind eine Katze.”


I have found recently that the male voice is saying "Kand" instead of "Kind"


The word bank word for "Kind" sounds like "Kand"


I tried to disable that particular voice for this word a day or two ago when someone else pointed it out on a different sentence. I don't know how quickly that takes effect, though.


Thanks for the quick response, mizinamo - much appreciated!!


should we are showing to a child the cat be correct?


No. Don’t use “to” if the indirect object comes first.


Short and excellent answer.


why it is not "der katze" because in dative die = der?? confused


Because die Katze is in the accusative case here -- it's the direct object of zeigen, the thing that is being shown.

Who is showing? -- subject -- nominative case

What is being shown? -- direct object -- accusative case

To whom is it being shown? -- indirect object -- dative case

(In case you're thinking in terms of "dative sentence" -- there's no such thing. Sentences as a whole aren't in this or that case.)


so if it was "Hund" instead of "Katze". It would be "den Hund" right?


That's right: Wir zeigen einem Kind den Hund. "We are showing a child the dog / We are showing the dog to a child."


When I put my answer in you are saying that EINEM means one and it does not


"einem" means "a" or "an" for a noun in Dative case, but "a" can also mean "one". Surely, there is not more than one as it is singular. So, that is not wrong. Was your answer accepted? What exactly did you put?


"we are showing the cat to a kid" was marked wrong


You could try reporting "kid" for "Kind", though "Kind" can be used anywhere that "child" can be used. "kid" is informal, but quite common. https://dictionary.reverso.net/english-german/kid

If you are looking for a more casual way to refer to children, sometimes you will see adjectives used in German "Kleiner" for "little one" (male form) or "Jungs" for "young ones", although the latter can also be considered "lads" or "boys". So, "die Kinder" works best for a group of girls and boys since adjectives have to match the gender. https://dictionary.reverso.net/english-german/kids

So, I did find a word for "the kids", "die Lütten." https://dictionary.reverso.net/german-english/L%C3%BCtten https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/l%C3%BCtt#German So this again means "little ones."


die Lütten is a northernism; it's from Low German. I'm not sure whether it would be understood anywhere south of Hanover or so.


"We are showing the child a cat" was marked wrong, despite it having the exact meaning of the correct answer


"the child" is a specific child that you had spoken about before, or a specific one who is clear from context.

"a child" is an unspecific child.

They do not have "the exact meaning" as each other.


It also says 'we show A child a cat' is wrong too.


It also says 'we show A child a cat' is wrong too.

Yes, because die Katze is "the cat", not "a cat".


I wish i knew the difference between types of words past ajective verb and noun.


Relax. You will get it after a while. A noun can have different jobs. It can be the subject of the verb when "I swim.", then "I" am the subject and that is in the Nominative case. "I" am doing the action in that sentence. You could ask "Who swims?" and the answer would be "I swim." so "I" is clearly the subject.

If I say "I am a person.", then "person" is the predicate nominative, which means that it refers back to the subject and is still in the Nominative case.
(I = person)

"I eat food." So you can ask "Who does the action?" to find the subject is "I" and you can ask "The action is happening to what?" or more specifically "What do I eat?" to find the direct object is "food." In German the direct object is in the Accusative case. We only notice a difference in pronouns in English "I see him." is different from "He sees me." In German, there are more differences, so it is more important to know which case is used. They say that the verb acts directly on the direct object.

I give a child a toy. = I give a toy to a child.

You can ask "What do I give?" to find the direct object is "a toy." You can ask "Who receives the action?" to find the indirect object is "a child."



The voice is saying einen Kind


No, the voice is saying "einem Kind" which is Dative case for the indirect object.


To my ear the voice is definitely saying 'einen' have listened to it several times and can't hear 'einem'.


"We are showing the child a cat." You used the indefinite "a" here, instead of the definite "the". We are showing the cat to a child.

Der was?


It should be "the cat" and "a child".

You used "a cat" and "the child".


I'm struggling with the robot voice. Between einer/eine, einen/ einem.


Why is "we show" getting marked wrong?


If that is the entire sentence that you wrote, it's wrong because you didn't mention a child or a cat.

If that isn't the entire sentence that you wrote, it's impossible to answer, because the mistake might be in another part of the sentence or in your word order. Please always ask about entire sentences.


The app seems to arbitrarily require the indirect object before the direct in some examples and vice versa in others. Sometimes it results in direct translations being rejected in some examples butnbeing requiredbin others. It is tricky enough to learn a new case, but to have these rules arbitrarily applied makes it twice as hard. Please fix this!


This is not arbitrary. What exactly did you put?


I wonder why he says "einem kunt"


He keeps saying "kUnd"


Why is it not katzen?


Because they are just showing one cat to the child, not several of them.

  • die Katze = the cat
  • die Katzen = the cats


I am confused


We are showing the child the cat should be an acceptable translation ...


We are showing the child the cat should be an acceptable translation ...

Why? einem Kind is not "(to) the child"; it's "(to) a child".


"We show the cat to a child." was accepted.



A agree with the afore mentioned comment. The resultant understanding is the same regardless of who receives or what is received and when in the sentence.


Hey, why does "Kind" sound as [kaind]? "Kind" in German sounds [kind]!


English pronunciation /spelling is rediculously inconsistent. This is mostly due to the large number of external influences due to England getting invaded so often and then the English doing the invading.


If "a child" is stressed, why isn't the translation "We are showing a child the cat?" Isn't the rule the same in English to stress a word?


There is no stress in the German sentence. That is natural German word order for a Dative noun (indirect object here) to precede an Accusative noun (direct object here), even though a Dative pronoun would come after an Accusative pronoun and either pronoun would come before a noun.

In English, your version should also be accepted as correct, but it is also not stressing “ a child”. In English we can stress a word by intonation, but I would use “to a child“ if I wanted to stress it and in German you could put “einem Kind” after “die Katze” if you wanted to stress it.



Ok, can someone please explain the cases?




Kind is neuter, and in the dative case in this sentence because it's the "recipient" of the showing -- thus you use neuter dative einem before it.


Is the cat a noun? A baby and a cat are both living things; is there a rule for why the baby comes first?


Yes, both baby and cat are nouns representing living things, baby is the indirect object, the one being shown the cat which is the direct object. A noun used as an indirect object usually comes before a noun used as an indirect object in German, though one could use a different order to emphasize the indirect object as new information when it is preceded by an indefinite article and the direct object is preceded by a definite article. Here is a site that explains the normal rules.



I have no issue with this section, however, why does it switch in translation between "i am showing to ..." and "i am showing ... " and "i show a ... " I am fine with any argument along the lines of "well it should be I am showing because present continuous but for Pete's sake pick a variety and roll with it please


"We show a cat to the child" was marked wrong March 2020. Am I missing something?


"We show a cat to the child" was marked wrong March 2020. Am I missing something?

Apparently yes.

How did you get from die Katze to "a cat" or from einem Kind to "to the child"?


wtf is the difference is one boy the cat and one cat the boy duolingo sucks so much of it


Sorry in German like in English “boy” is a male child while “Kind” could be male or female, so those are not the same words.

Das Kind = the child

Der Junge = the boy

Here the dative case would use “einem” for either of these.

“The” is used for a specific cat that we have already talked about. “A” is used for any unknown child. I know it seems strange to know the cat and to show it to an unknown child, but if you know the child and show an unknown cat to the child that would have been “Wir zeigen dem Kind eine Katze.” which is different from the sentence here: Wir zeigen einem Kind die Katze.”

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