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"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.


"...the one of the cat's children" would be "the cat's child" ( which is ambiguous as to whether it is "a child" or "the child") or "a child of the cat" or "one child of the cat."


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?


Are you saying that it was not accepted as correct? Then report it as also correct. You would normally put the indirect object which is Dative case first, but yes you can put the indefinite indirect object after the direct object to stress that it is new information.


Sorry, why is "Wir zeigen einem Kind die Katze "neutral word order? Don´t I always have to put in the last position the most important element of the sentence? In this case, it would be "einem Katze" since it´s new information. Am I right?


why is "Wir zeigen einem Kind die Katze "neutral word order?

Because the dative object comes before the accusative object if both are noun phrases. That's the neutral word order.

Don´t I always have to put in the last position the most important element of the sentence?

Only if you want to place emphasis on it.

A sentence with emphasis on one particular element is non-neutral by definition -- neutral means no emphasis on anything particular.


Thanks a lot for your explanation


In German I think object come first


Indirect object noun usually comes before direct object noun, but there is much more to learn. Scroll to the top of the page and read Mizinamo's first answer.


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").


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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



We are showing to a child the cat...is pretty much the "same as we are showing the cat to a child." Both are correct?


Both are correct?


Don't use "to" when the recipient comes first.

  • We are showing the cat to a child. -- OK
  • We are showing a child the cat. -- OK
  • We are showing the cat a child. -- not OK
  • We are showing to a child the cat. -- not OK


Well, we could show the cat a child, but it is not a correct translation of this sentence.


Yes; I meant "(not) OK" in the context of "a translation for the given sentence".

You're right, of course, that it is a grammatical English sentence which means something different.


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?


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


"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.


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 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".


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.



I wonder why he says "einem kunt"


He keeps saying "kUnd"


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 a direct 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.



Yes, child/Kind and cat/Katze are both nouns. Which one comes first in the sentence depends on which one happens to be the direct object.

Whether the nouns refer to animate beings or inanimate objects is completely irrelevant to the word order in German sentences.


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


That’s not how it works— you can’t “just pick one and roll with it”, LOL.

You use “to + noun” where that noun is 1) an indirect object, and 2) following the direct object.

==> We are showing a child (I.O.) the cat (D.O.) Don’t need preposition “to”. BUT...

==> We are showing the cat (D.O.) to a child (I.O.).

So, the rule is thuswise:

§ IO before DO — don’t use “to”.

§ IO after DO — must use “to”.


"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"?


We are showing a cat to the child is wrong :(


Yes, of course , that would have been "Wir zeigen dem Kind eine Katze." You cannot just switch indefinite and definite articles like that.



To take another approach to the order, is it correct say "Wir zeigen die Katze zu einem Kind?"

Or am I getting ahead of myself and this lesson is only about using Dativ for indirect objects and not about Dativ prepositions?


is it correct say "Wir zeigen die Katze zu einem Kind?"


Using zu with zeigen is not correct.

And the dative object generally comes before the accusative object in German when both of them are noun phrases, so Wir zeigen einem Kind die Katze is the usual word order.

Putting the dative object last is sometimes possible but not always. It's always safer to put the dative object first, but be prepared to see sentences with the other order.


My "Wir zeigen die Katze einem Kind" is wrong why?


My "Wir zeigen die Katze einem Kind" is wrong why?

What kind of exercise did you have? Do you have a screenshot?


"We are showing a kid a cat" rejected



"We are showing a kid a cat" rejected


Why did you translate die Katze with "a cat"?


xD I got the question again and even after reading your response I put "we are showing a kid a cat". Thanks for clarifying though.


Just repeat it ten times "die Katze" is "the cat".


As zeigen is a dativ verb ein changed to einem but why didn't die changed to der


zeigen is a dativ verb

I'm not sure what you mean with "a dative verb".

One where the subject, the direct object, and the indirect object are all in the dative case?

There's no such thing.

The subject is in the nominative case.

The direct object is in the accusative case.

The indirect object is in the dative case.

Thus wir (nominative) zeigen einem Kind (dative) die Katze (accusative).

I've heard "dative verb" used only where verbs take exactly one object, and that object is in the dative case, rather than in the accusative case as is usual for verbs that take on object -- for example, helfen has wir helfen ihm and not wir helfen *ihn.

But zeigen is a pretty normal representative of those verbs that take two objects: a direct object in the accusative case and an indirect object (usually a kind of recipient) in the dative case: sagen, geben, zeigen, .... (Some such as erzählen and glauben can take two objects but can also take just one object - just the direct object with erzählen, just the direct object or just the indirect object with glauben.)


I wrote "we show to the child the cat" and it was wrong. Why?


I wrote "we show to the child the cat" and it was wrong. Why?

  • We don't use "to" if the recipient comes first
  • einem Kind means "(to) a child" and not "(to) the child"


(OT, I beg your pardon). How do you get bullet points? I have been trying to find out, and so far have not seen how.


Why not "We show the cat to the child"? Is not "show" the same tense in English as "are showing"?


Your error is elsewhere: einem Kind = a child

We do use the simple present for general truths, facts, and habitual actions or a list of actions, but it can be used in a story in a "this happens then that" type of way.




You can say it both ways. Should not lose hearts for saying it a second way.


What do you mean by "both ways"? Which two ways are you thinking of?


What is the rule for einem and einer? I use the mobile app and don't think it was explained


The mobile app should have the "Tips" button to click at the beginning of a lesson set.

Einem => masculine and neuter dative; einer => feminine dative.


Why is "we show the child the cat" not accepted ? It's perfectly good English.


Why is "we show the child the cat" not accepted ? It's perfectly good English.

"we show the child the cat" is indeed a good English sentence, just like "my ball is red" is a good English sentence.

But neither of them conveys the same meaning as Wir zeigen einem Kind die Katze.

The goal is not merely to write a correct English sentence -- otherwise people could simply copy and paste "my ball is red" as the answer to every sentence.

You have to write an answer that is good English and that means the same thing as the German sentence.

ein Kind is "a child", not "the child" -- so translating einem Kind as "the child" is not correct.

"We show a child the cat." would be accepted.


Why is "We are showing the kid the cat" is wrong?


"einem" = "a"

"dem"would have been used with "Kind" in Dative case for "the"

Also, German "Kind" = "child", there are more casual German words for "kid".


When and why do we use einer or einem..deiner or deinem?i meant the er / em)


The endings of the indefinite article "ein" and the possessive adjectives such as "dein" change endings depending on gender and number (masculine, neuter and feminine, all of which are singular, and plural for all genders) and case (Nominative, Accusative, Dative and Genitive). For Datve case, masculine singular and neuter singular take the -em ending while feminine singular takes the -er ending. The indirect object or to whom the direct object is shown here is in Dative case.There is an excellent explanation of the cases at the following link with tables of the various forms of "ein", etc. if you scroll down at that link. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-four-german-noun-cases-4064290

Please delete the copy of your question below.


When and why do we use einer or einem..deiner or deinem?i meant the er / em)


When the following noun is feminine, you will use "einer", "deiner", etc. for Dative case which includes a noun used as an indirect object. A masculine or neuter noun uses "einem", "deinem", etc for Dative case. A plural noun of any gender uses "einen", "deinen", etc. for Dative case.

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