1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. "Ich helfe meinen Kindern."

"Ich helfe meinen Kindern."

Translation:I am helping my children.

October 21, 2015

81 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kfdaugherty

I thought Kind was child (singular) and Kinder was children (plural)? What is this Kindern?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kewenge

The Dative plural of all nouns ends in "n". Such as Mannern instead of Manner


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Of nearly all nouns :)

Those which form their plural in -s don't add -(e)n (die Babys, den Babys).

Also, "Männer(n)", not "Manner(n)".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/layla.sroor

mizinamo, I just want to thank you for sharing your knowledge. I have read many helpful posts of yours :)

Are you a native German speaker?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Pretty much.

My first language was English and I went to school through English but I have been speaking German since I was three years old and I grew up in Germany.

(The fact that my school education was not in German also explains why I'm occasionally hazy about the parts of writing that don't correspond to anything you can hear, such as comma placement, capitalisation, or writing words together versus separately -- I never got taught those explicitly. The fact that some of those conventions got changed in the spelling reform of 1996 onwards doesn't help, either.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/uchronia

Seconded. I've learned so much more from you mizinamo than all of my previous German teachers combined. Your insights into stylistics and precision are a real gift. Thank you so much!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/layla.sroor

Cool, nice to meet you :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kewenge

I didn't know bout the s-ending words, thanks.

I did know about the umlauts, just didn't bother to look up how to type them


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Baconeta

Replace umlauts with 'e' after the letter in writing without them. So "Maennern" for "Männern"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WhiteRabbit442

But why is it dative? I thought that "Kinder" in this case is accusative?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

helfen takes an object in the dative case (not the accusative), for some reason.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FraserLogan

Does anyone know the reason? Is it perhaps that the literal translation of "Ich helfe meinen Müttern" is "I give help to my mothers"?

Könnte mir bitte jemand helfen? ;)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

While that's a possible wording for "give help to someone" (jemandem helfen) or "give thanks to someone" (jemandem danken), perhaps even "give congratulations to someone" (jemandem gratulieren), and "give an answer to someone" (jemandem antworten) and there's a construction involving "to" for "belong to someone" (jemandem gehören) and "appeal to someone" (jemandem gefallen), I'm not sure how to explain "follow someone" (jemandem folgen), and translating "believe someone" as "give credence to someone" (jemandem glauben) would be rather unusual a phrase in English.

It may just be best to learn a group of verbs that take an object in the dative case -- there may be some reason historically but nowadays it's not necessarily "logical" why some do so.

It's perhaps a bit like asking why "listen" requires "to" but "look" does not take "to" but instead takes "at" -- is there a good reason why we don't "listen at the orchestra" or "look to the beautiful sunset"?

helfen, danken, folgen, gefallen, gehören, wie geht es ...?, gratulieren, antworten was the set of "dative verbs" I learned at school, though there are more where those come from, e.g. jemandem dienen "to serve someone" (give service to someone?).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/brom807443

In Hebrew we are taught that accusative is the part of the sentence that gives a necessary information about the verb, and dative is considered what gives unnecessary info about the verb. I can't say it always works with the German division of dative and accusative but it does help. You can't just say "i give" and also not "i give you" you need to specify what you give - now in English I'm not sure it works but you can say - at least in Hebrew and i think in German too - "i give a book" without specifying who you give it to. Now in help it's a bit tricky at least in English but i think there's no real problem with "he helps" - it's not very informing - but i think it can stand on its own, therefore the info about whom he helps is unnecessary and therefore dative. So maybe that's the reason in German too - is that right - can you say "er hilft" without adding more info?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/brom807443

And about listen and look - i think it has to do with directing your attention - when you listen it's more specific, and when you look it can be just in a general direction. This way you can also find (at least some) reason in saying that it's necessary to specify what/who you look at, but who/what you listen to isn't a necessary info - because you always look somewhere even if it's out of focus or out of your attention so saying that you look doesn't give new info, but you don't necessarily always listen - you can hear without listening - so just saying that you listen does provide some info...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sinekonata

"Ich helfe meinen Muttern" is correct then?

I thought it wasn't all of them though, is that so?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

No, Ich helfe meinen Muttern is not correct for "I help my mothers". (It would work for "I help my bolts/screw-nuts".)

Hint: the nominative plural of Mutter in the sense of "mother" is Mütter.

When you form the dative of that, you still need the bit that marks the plural (here: the umlaut).

And no, not all plural nouns have -n in the dative, but the vast majority do.

The two main groups of exceptions I can think of is nouns that have an -n in the plural already (e.g. der Samen, die Samen; den Samen or die Tanne, die Tannen; den Tannen) or those that form their plural with -s (e.g. das Baby, die Babys; den Babys).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sinekonata

Ok "Ich helfe meinen Müttern" then?

That seems to fit with what you described. If not, I didn't understand it fully.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Yes, that would be the translation of "I help my mothers".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mz147

(Replying to VIJAYESH) No, "meiner" is dative feminine singular. But die Mütter is plural. "der Mutter" - dative singular "den Müttern" - dative plural


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/faridma

can i say Die Tasche gehört dieser Fraun.? i mean i can add N to singular as well or only plural?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VIJAYESH4U

I think "Ich helfe meiner Müttern" is correct sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YvettePaulusz

Thanks a lot, mizinamo. Your posts are very helpful!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mir_dandy

The subject also takes the dative ending of -n, therefor Kinder becomes Kindern


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

"meinen Kindern" is not the subject of "helfen" but the object.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VIVEK259865

Why not meiner kinder


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

helfen requires the dative case, so you need dative plural meinen Kindern.

meiner Kinder would be genitive plural.

(And meiner kinder is simple wrong -- Kinder has to be capitalised.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VIVEK259865

I thought as indefinite article for dative plural is einer.. So same type of declination with ending er


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

No, indefinite article for dative plural is keinen, e.g. ich helfe keinen Kindern "I do not help any children".

(That's in the negative. The positive indefinite article ein does not have any plural forms.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sinekonata

Also that's only the case for plural nouns and not all of them.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/theotree

So "helfen" is a verb that always takes dative?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Yes, exactly.

There are a dozen or so verbs like that, including "helfen, danken, folgen, gefallen, gehören, antworten, dienen".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/theotree

Hey great thanks, I've been looking for some more info about that for a while :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kmramna

But why? Is it because "I am helping (to) my children." or "I thank (to) her."?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

I'm not sure there's a good reason except "that's the way it's done in German".

Literally, yes, we "help to someone" or "thank to someone" or "follow to someone" etc. but I'm not sure whether thinking of it literally will help or hinder.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Saharat

Why is it "meinen" and not meinem Kindern when it's dative? Isn't meinen Akkusativ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

meinen is accusative for masculine singular, and also dative plural.

accusative plural would have been "meine".

"meinem" is dative singular (for masculine and neuter).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cristina_6_8

what about meiner? when should i use it? or does it exist?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

"meiner" is dative or genitive singular for feminine nouns:

  • Ich gebe den Ball meiner Mutter (dative singular)
  • Das ist der Ball meiner Mutter (genitive singular)

It can also be genitive plural:

  • Das ist der Ball meiner Eltern

And if it is not in front of a noun but stands by itself ("mine" rather than "my"), it can be masculine nominative singular as well:

  • Das ist meiner. (That is mine. -- referring to a masculine object)

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/electriclinda

This really helps. Herzlichen Dank!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AhmedShible

This just cleared up a lot of confusion. Thanks!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/topresh

Remember guys :- NOMINATIV--------DATIV Das----------------Dem/einem/meinem... Der----------------Dem/einem/meinem... Die-----------------Der/einer/meiner... Die(plural)----------Den+n / einen+n / meinen+n...

Beispielweise (For Example):- Ich bin mit meiner Frau. (Aus, bei, mit, nach, seit, von, zu - immer mit dem Dativ) Ich helfe einem Kind. (Certain verbs always have dativ) Wie geht es dir? And of course, the example here.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FlanneryEyre

Why not "I give help to my children?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pouriya0

Why dative?? Doesn't helping take accusative nouns?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

The German verb helfen takes an object in the dative case, for some reason.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rid113

Meinen dative or accisative. I know dative to be meinem so if its dative why the n instead of the m? Thanks.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

meinen is dative plural.

meinem is dative neuter or masculine.

meiner is dative feminine.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Angiexxx

Why isn't good this: 'I help to my kids"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Because in English, "help" is transitive and takes a direct object without a preposition "to".

(Also, I think that "children" is better on a site such as this, with "kids" being rather colloquial/informal.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/vvvyne

does this literally mean "I give help to my children?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

No, it literally means "I help my children".

helfen means "to help", not "to give help" (which would be Hilfe leisten or Hilfe gewähren).

helfen takes an object in the dative case.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Michael843717

Why does "helfen" take the dative case? This is messing with my understanding of the cases. Unless it's in the sense that help is given to the children... but it seems to me that when you help someone you are directly acting upon them, so it should take the accusative. Please enlighten me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Why does "helfen" take the dative case?

I don't think there's an answer for that beyond "that's just how it is".

Why do we "listen to" a bird but "look at" a bird? Why don't we "look to a bird" or "listen at a bird"? In fact, why use a preposition at all? We don't "see at a bird" or "hear to a bird", so why can't we say that I'm "listening the bird and looking the bird"? Just like we can "watch the bird", we could "look the bird"? Aren't they both kind of directly acting on the bird?

Who decides that "look" takes "at" or that "helfen" takes the dative case? Nobody -- it's just how we learned the language from our ancestors.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CapnDoug

Great answer. I salute you.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gorji3

I write the word CHILDREN but Duolingo writes to me it's wrong What is the problem????


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

The word CHILDREN does not mean the same thing as "I am helping my children".

You have to add those other words as well. Just typing CHILDREN by itself is not enough as an answer to this question.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yuval882196

Hello, can someone please explain why is "meinen" before the kindern? Thanks


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

helfen takes an object in the dative case. Thus you need the dative plural form meinen and the dative plural form Kindern. (And Kindern has to be capitalised -- it's a noun.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DominikVuo

S + helfen+ Dativ = help someone, am i correct?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GailWalker9

As a native English speaker, here is my issue. DuoLingo marked as incorrect my phrase I help my children. I help my children versus I am helping my children. Please.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

DuoLingo marked as incorrect my phrase I help my children.

It shouldn't have.

Do you have a screenshot to help us understand what might have gone wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Avery_Eubanks

Is dative plural the only time where we put "en" at the end of the article AND the plural noun?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Is dative plural the only time where we put "en" at the end of the article AND the plural noun?

In the plural, yes.

In the singular, you can have it with masculine weak nouns in the accusative case, e.g. den Menschen (which can be "the human", accusative singular, or "to the humans", dative plural).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ljupcosst66

" I am helping TO my children." Why this sentence with TO is wrong????


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

" I am helping TO my children." Why this sentence with TO is wrong????

Because we do not use "to" with "help" in English.

We say "I am helping my children. Can you help me? He helps his father. Nobody helped us." etc., always without "to".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ksr2106

I help to my children. Wrong. Why?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

I help to my children. Wrong. Why?

Because it's incorrect English. We "help someone"; we do not "help to someone".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RichardCor912224

In trying to properly get the German thinking/phrasing, I tend to translate in a manner that hopefully reflects that.

In this case, I'd try to make the English similar to the Dative. So why is translating "Ich helfe meinen Kindern" wrong when translated as "I give help to my children."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

In trying to properly get the German thinking/phrasing, I tend to translate in a manner that hopefully reflects that.

Please don't. That's not what translation is about.

Translate natural German into natural English, not into forced English that happens to look like the German on a structural level.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xanthippe21

soo what is the real difference between "ich helfe meine kinder" and "ich helfe meinen kindern" ?? why do we even need -n ending?! any difference in the meaning?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Both of those sentences are wrong.

Ich helfe meinen Kindern (with capitalised Kindern) would be correct.

Ich helfe meine Kinder would still be wrong even if you capitalised Kinder.

helfen requires an object in the dative case. That's just the way it is. If you use an object in the accusative case, it's simply wrong.

So "the real difference" is that the dative case is correct with helfen and the accusative case is not.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VIVEK259865

But why ending with n of kinder


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

The -n ending is typical for nouns in the dative plural.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Please read all of the comments to see whether your question has already been asked before -- in this case by yuval882196 7 months ago.

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.