"Meinem Kind ist schlecht."

Translation:My child is not feeling well.

January 6, 2013

This discussion is locked.


Why is "My kid is bad" incorrect?


In German, this sentence relates to one with 'meinem Kind' in the indirect object position, which is why it is marked with dative case:

  1. Es ist meinem Kind schlecht. ['meinem Kind' in indirect object position]
  2. Meinem Kind ist schlecht. ['meinem Kind' in initial position]

We see a similar thing in English with verbs like 'seem', 'look', 'sound', 'feel', 'smell' and 'taste'. For example:

  1. It looks bad for my child. ['my child' in indirect object position]
  2. My child looks bad. ['my child' in subject position]

People learning English might think the second sentence means something like "My child has bad eyesight", much as many of us assumed "Meinem Kind ist schlecht" must mean "My child is bad".

This isn't idiomatic usage. It follows from the grammatical properties of the verbs in question.

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Really thorough and very technical explanation. I find it easier to grasp like this: 'for my child (it) is bad' it is what meiner means after all


That's a good insight, thanks!


Great explanation, have a lingot :)


Does 'Mein Kind ist schlecht' mean 'my child is bad'


Excellent explanation! I start to understand... :)


This is a very idiomatic expression in German and it means: my child feels sick, meaning that its stomach is upset and it feels like it is about to vomit, to throw up. Similarly, you can say "Mir ist schlecht", when you have eaten something bad and you feel like it can come back any minute. Another similar sentence is: "mir wird schlecht wenn ich das sehe", meaning watching this makes my stomach turn. Unfluids explanation is technically correct, but it does not allow you to decrypt this sentence. Not very wise that Duolingo took this as an example for the use of a dativ.


But the sentence "Mir ist schlecht" doesn't have a subject. How can that be? I would think it's a kind of slang. If it were "Mir es ist schlecht", I could get my head around it.


I agree with you, but I think it's rather to use "krank" instead of "schlecht".


I learned "krank" as well


Excellent explanation but can you simplify it at all as i am confused? Much appreciated


If it were ′′Mein Kind ist schlecht′′ the translation ′′my child is bad′′ would be correct as Mein Kind is the subject, but in ′′Meinem Kind ist schlecht′′, Meinem Kind is not the subject but rather the indirect object. One can rewrite ′′Meinem Kind ist schlecht′′ as ′′Es ist meinem Kind schlecht′′ and vice versa. Both are correct, but the second is more understandable for beginners to the language as all the components are present. ′′Es ist meinem Kind schlecht′′ can be directly translated as ′′It is for my child bad′′ or more conversationally ′′It looks bad for my child.′′


Thank you. That was very useful


So if "Kind" is the indirect object, and the presumed "it" is the subject, then what here is the direct object?


Very good and simple explanation


thanks for the clearing! wasn´t really clear for me! you deserve a lingot!


But: Mein Kind is schlecht.=My child is bad?


Mein Kind ist schlecht. Yes, that's correct


So, how would you say: MY KID IS BAD


With nominative. Mein Kind ist schlecht. (This has been answered in other comments in this thread as well, please check next time.)


me too, why would it be anything else??? thats what schlecht means, it means bad, that's what the owl told me anyways.


The explanation in the thread linked above is somewhat confusing, but it appears to me that it's somewhat idiomatic German. Using dative case here changes the subject and object to make the sentence imply specifically that the child is ill, rather than bad (naughty/evil)

There is a minor issue, however, in that bad has multiple meanings in idiomatic English (particularly in the UK), and "bad" can mean "ill" as well; as in "I'm feeling bad" or "I've got a bad leg". You could arguably apply that sense of the word to an ill child, too, with "my child is bad"; which could therefore be a valid translation here. However, to make the point regarding the German specifically meaning "ill", I guess it's best to keep it as marked wrong.


There's nothing idiomatic here. Read unfluid's explanation. It's in the dative case, not the nominative case. It's simply the difference between "Mein Kind" and "Meinen Kind", the second roughly translated to "To my child it is bad", so 'child' is the indirect object and 'it' is the subject. If your native language were a Latin language, then you'd have understood much easier. But it's not that hard to understand for English natives either. It's just the difference between the nominative and the dative :)


Apologies for the late reply, I've been away from the site for a while, but I saw your response when I logged back in and think I need to elaborate what I mean. I understand the point regarding dative case here, but I still find it slightly "idiomatic".

A direct translation would yield something like, as you've said, "To my child it is bad" or, slightly more naturally, "it's going badly for my child". In English, this does not specifically mean "ill", as it could stand in for other bad things, like "he's being bullied", or "she's getting poor grades". Unless I'm mistaken, in German, it's understood to be specifically referring to illness, which is one part I find idiomatic.

There is also the issue of missing words being implied, which is also somewhat "idiomatic"; requiring non-trivial knowledge of which words are implied and which words can be omitted.

Also, at the time of my original post, unfluid's explanation wasn't here, and the explanation on the other (linked above) thread does explain the missing words / case issue as idiomatic usage.

Perhaps "idiomatic" is not the best word for either of those issues, but I cannot currently think of a better one. Suggestions are welcomed.


Thanks for the link, but I think this is something that Duolingo should explain before throwing at us out of left field, and we shouldn't have to rely on finding relevant discussion thread to explain idiomatic German.


I think you kind of have to read the comments when you don't understand why something is wrong/right. There's often too much information for it to fit in a mouseover text. Think of checking the discussion as the Duolingo equivalent of asking the teacher.


Duolingo needs the vocab for each lesson,or else the exceptions are not cleared.


Completely agree! Just where they put the summary of the lesson (the lightbulb) they should put at the end the vocab.!


I agree, it's not good!


Those statements are true but Duolingo is better than any other language learning site I've been on, such as Busuu.com. At least it gives most of the information in a decent order that is comprehensible.


I'm really getting tired of the back and forth between strict literal and non literal translations. of course I would put my child is not well, if I had not already been penalized for using non-literal translations many times.


Simple: because to say what you want, you would use the dative case. You would say "mein Kind ist schlecht". In the exercise, by using dative here, Duolingo is saying: it is bad TO MY KID, in a very bad literal translation.


Oh my god, this German sentence got me I also answered this. x'D


Why should I use the dative case in this sentence? I thought "Mein Kind ist schlecht" would be correct, since there is no indirect object in the phrase and we are using the verb 'to be' (ist).


In German, there IS an indirect object: "Meinem Kind ist schlecht" = "Meinem Kind ist es schlecht" or "Es ist meinem Kind schlecht".


Ey, you should expand the idea, because I didn't understand.


This is how I understand it: when you ask a German "How are you?" you say, "Wie geht es Ihnen/dir/euch?", which could perhaps be translated as "How is it going for you?" The answer, assuming you actually ARE doing well, would be "Es geht mir gut" (or just "gut" for short, I reckon!)

I think what we have here is the same sort of thing, except the subject (es) is not actually mentioned. As far as I know, if you said "Mein Kind ist schlecht." you would be saying something about your child itself being bad, but as here we have "Meinem Kind ist schlecht." we are saying that "(it) is (going) badly for my child" or, making the same sort of conversion as in the paragraph above, "My child is not feeling well."


Why are the other words being omitted by Duolingo? Is dropping the "es" really necessary? Does "ist" turn into the English equivalent of "It's" when the pronoun is in dative form?


I would say that the reason DuoLingo omitted the word "es" here is because that's how German people actually talk.


Frankly, I have no idea why the "es" is omitted here. I don't think there is anything wrong with putting it in (saying "meinem Kind ist es schlecht").


Great explanation. Could I say "Meinem Kind geht schlecht" too?


Then "Kind" is not the subject ??


Exactly. That is what using the dative case shows.


It is the subject of the sentence, but it has dative case because it derives from a structure in which "Meinem Kind" is the indirect object.

In German, dative and genitive markings are assigned earlier in a sentence's derivation than nominative and accusative, so if a noun phrase has been moved from an indirect object position to the subject position, it will already have case marking by the time nominative case would otherwise be assigned. If a noun phrase is moved from a direct object position instead, it will be assigned nominative case in the subject position because it won't have received accusative case in its original position. In German, the dative and genitive cases are called 'inherent' cases, while nominative and accusative are 'structural' cases.

CORRECTION: 'Meinem Kind' actually appears to move to a position before the subject like that filled by 'for my children' in 'For my children, it is bad'. How can you tell? Subjects and verbs normally agree for number in German, but if you substitute the plural form 'meinen Kindern', the verb doesn't change to 'sind'. It remains 'ist': 'Meinen Kindern ist schlecht'. Hence, it cannot be the subject.


Very interesting. Thank you!


Love it whenever someone knows his/her grammar!


My take on this...

Note that "Meinem Kind" is in the dative, so this isn't a simple "my child is bad" sentence.

As "my child" must be the indirect object, we have the subject missing in this sentence. I recall that we've seen other sentences with an actual or implied "es" as the subject, representing some anonymous "it" (the same anonymous it that features in the English "it's raining". )

If we assume that the same thing is happening here, the sentence makes sense. We can can turn it into Meinem Kind ist [es] schlect - literally "For my child [it] is bad". Following the same logic as "Es geht mir gut", we can see this as meaning some variant of "my child is not well".

Also, I note that the English text supplied for this is not "My child is unwell" ("Mein kind ist krank") but "My child is feeling unwell".

I suspect that this almost idiomatic usage is misplaced in this lesson, and that it appears here just because whatever word/construction selection "engine" Duolingo uses to include phrases in skills blocks has just matched that this is a dative construction, so has included it in the dative skill block.


Great explanation!


That's how I understood it too, but I translated it is "It is bad for my child" and it is incorrect. Even though that still gets the Dative, it does not get the idiomatic translation and thus, still wrong. I guess.


So "Mein Kind ist schlecht"= My child is bad, while "Meinem Kind ist schlecht"= My child is ill?


Could one write the following.

"Mein Kind ist nicht gesund."


This feels far more logical. Or "Mein Kind ist krank"...


Yes, "Mein Kind ist nicht gesund" or "Mein Kind ist krank" are more straightforward, and I presume both will be accepted if you're asked to translate to German. This idiomatic phrase is like "it's raining cats and dogs" or something like that; the meaning might be less clear to non-native speakers, and translated word for word without understanding the implications of case, you might get an odd idea, but you will see/hear it in German, and you should learn to understand it, even if you don't use it yourself.


Screw this, I'm moving on.


Summary: The sentence means "To my child [it] is bad" or "For my child [it] is going badly". Dative case "meinem Kind" makes all the difference. If it were nominative, "Mein Kind is schlecht", that would mean "My child is bad."


Why is "My child is not well" incorrect? Isn't that almost the same meaning as in the sentence with the word "feeling"?


So if there are any Germans around I ask you: Would you use such a sentence?


That's a definite YES!


Can I say, Meinem Kind gehts schlecht?


Yes, but please separate 'geht' and 'es'.


When to use "geht" and when to use "ist"? What's the difference?


Geht is "goes/going" and ist is "is" - so to answer your question: Es geht mir gut = It is going well with/to/for me. Ich bin gut = I am good (but not common colloquial usage). Or, to use a better example: Es geht ihm slecht = It is going bad/poorly with him (because of the dative ihm). Er ist slecht = He is bad (because of the nominative Er).

So, to know when to use it depends on what you want to say and how you want to say it. As far as duolingo goes, specifically in the German course, "well" as an adverb usually translates to a sentence involving "geht" and simpler sentences like "(it) is bad) use "ist" - but some sentences can be deceivingly simple.


What is the subject of the verb "ist"?


An unspoken es. It's basically saying "it isn't well with my child" or Es ist schlecht mit meinem Kind. You could also say Es geht mir schlecht for "I'm not doing/feeling well."


This is actually not a straightforward question to answer. The term 'subject' just refers to a particular position in a clause, which may or may not have a particular case form, so the fact that 'meinem Kind' is dative doesn't tell you one way or the other.

One way to test whether something is the subject in German and many other languages is by whether it agrees with the verb for things like person and number (it is, they are, I am, etc). In this example, if we changed 'meinem Kind' (singular form) to 'meinen Kindern' (plural form), 'ist' (is) would not change to the plural form 'sind' (are) to agree for number. Instead, it stays singular: 'Meinen Kindern ist schlecht'. This suggests 'meinem Kind' is not the subject but occupies an earlier position like that filled by 'for my children' in 'For my children, it is bad'.

Further evidence for this is the fact that it is possible though awkward to include an explicit subject in this sentence: 'Meinem Kind ist es schlecht'. Here, 'es' (it) is the subject. It appears after the verb it is agreeing with because the verb has to come second in the clause in German.


How frequent is the lack of explicit subject in German?


The case basically makes it "It is bad for my child"


Another question. If you want to say "I'm feeling ok", do you say "Mir ist ok [gut]", or do you use the nominativ form?


You would say 'Es geht mir gut' or 'Mir geht es gut.' or 'Ich fühle mich gut/okay'


i think schlecht has different meanings and one of those meanings refered the word "weak" so i dont understand why "my child is weak" is incorrect?!


Because "meinem" is the dative case, indicating that your child is not the subject. Something is being bad for your child, i.e. your child is ill. To get the meaning of your child being bad or weak, it would have to be "Mein Kind ist schlecht".


If I wanna say 'my child is ill', can I just put 'mein Kind ist krank'? Idk why DL don't just start from more common sentences for similar meaning.


This lesson is about dative case. You need to recognize it in common expressions using such a structure like "Meinem Kind" = for my child.


I know this is a free app, but I REALLY feel I would benefit 100x from some included grammar lessons and lessons on subject verb agreement and general sentence structure :S


This seems like a very bad sentence for this level. It would have been better to use the sentence "Es ist meinem Kind schlecht.


I thought exactly the same at first. After reading this discussion, I changed my mind. After all, it is about dative case and for me it is about dative pronouns specifically.


I am sorry for posting my problem but Meinem, Meinen, and sometimes Meiner all sound the same. The m n r are not clear sometime. I still love this site.


If schlecht is ill, what's krank?


schlecht is 'bad', not 'ill'. In this case the english version is that my child is ill. please read the rest of the discussion for more.


"krank" = "sick", "unwell", "diseased", etc. In any language, there are often two or more ways to say the more or less the same thing.


So how would you actually say my kid is bad, as in my kid is badly behaved?


Mein Kind ist schlecht. Notice the Nominative instead of Dative.


Esta (sintiéndose) mal mi niño --- "mi niño"= Objeto Indirecto.

Mi niño es malo --- "Mi niño"= Sujeto (Nominativo).

La oración: "Meinem Kind ist schlecht" -dadas las propiedades gramaticales de la lengua alemana- coloca el O. I. al inicio indicandolo bajo su forma dativa.

Por lo menos esa es la conclusión a la que pude llegar después de mi curso de mes y medio aquí en DUO.


Buena lógica pero malos ejemplos. En tu primera oración, "mi niño" sigue siendo el sujeto, aunque cambies el orden de las palabras.

Para que sea objeto indirecto, podrías decir: "Le está yendo mal a mi niño", de hecho si te fijas, el sujeto (¿qué le está yendo mal?) está omitido. ¡Igual que en el alemán!


Do Germans not use "Krank?"


Sometimes, but sometimes they say it this way as well. There's many ways to say the same thing. I wonder whether there's a strength of meaning difference? Perhaps a native speaker could answer that? Does "Ich bin Krank" imply a greater, lesser, or equal illness compared with "Mir ist schlecht"?


johanov has now answered this nicely for us, confirming what someone else had written. The "Mir ist schlecht" versions idiomatically imply a specific type of illness; feeling like you're going to vomit.

I guess it's a bit like "I feel sick" in English, which is more likely to refer to being about to vomit than the alternative "I feel ill"


"My child is not doing well" is a separate meaning from "my child is doing not well". First indicates explicitly indicating that the state is opposite, whereas the german version does not do that.


Is "My son is not feeling well" incorrect?


You're adding in gender information that isn't specified in the original. Sure, "Kind" could mean "son", but it could also mean "daughter" - it's not clear from the original - and thus "child" would be a better translation.

Otherwise, seems a reasonable translation to me.

[deactivated user]

    Perhaps "It is not well with my child"? That would account for the dative case (meinem Kind).

    Slightly contrived, but it captures the sense of the original.


    I don't get why it's not "Mein Kind". Where does the dative come from? I also don't get the difference bwtween "Ich habe einen Hund" and "ich habe ein Hund." What causes the change from nominative?


    The change comes from what is the subject, object, and indirect object of the verb. In English, we take this all from the word order - but in German, it comes from the cases.

    In English, "The man gives the ball to the dog" can only mean one thing - but in German, you need the cases to pin down the meaning, otherwise it might mean that "the ball gives the dog to the man".

    Nominative marks the subject - the man.
    Akkusativ marks the direct object - the ball.
    Dative marks the indirect object - the dog.

    In your example, "Ich" is the subject - the thing "doing" the "having". "Hund" is the direct object - in this case, being "had". In German, that means it should be marked with Akkusativ case, hence is "einen Hund"

    "Having" doesn't have an indirect object, so there's no dative in your example - but if the something else were going on where something were being done for it, like if the dog had a direct object being given to it, it would become "einem Hund".

    In the case of this question, it's "Mein Kind" - this is because "Kind" is acting as an indirect object - the verb is being done for it.

    Although the concept of the verb "is" being done "for" something sounds odd in English at first, we can roughly translate "Meinem Kind" to "for my child"

    "For my child, (es) ist schlecht" - "For my child, it is bad". - or more naturally - "my child is feeling sick".

    From what I've been told by native German speakers, this would be idiomatically understood to specifically refer to feeling nauseous and about to vomit - not just a general "things are bad" as might be understood from the literal translation.


    Thanks for the explanation. The way I read this expression, the child is the subject. The child is feeling bad. I guess the "my" makes me the subject in "owning" the child. Thus, if I'm getting this right, it should be "Das Kind ist schlecht" or "Ein Kind ist schlecht" but when I move in with my relation I become the subject, thus "Meinem Kind ist schlecht".


    "My" is just indicating the possessive - and works slightly differently to the verb "owning" - so your thinking that "my makes me the subject in owning" isn't quite right.
    The subject/object/indirect object relation is determined just by the case - for your example, you should still be using dative, by using "dem" and "einem" to put Kind as the indirect object - otherwise the meaning is very different.

    Mein Kind ist schlecht = My child is bad (naughty/evil)
    Meinem Kind ist schlecht = (It) is bad for my child = My child is sick

    Das Kind ist schlecht = The child is naughty
    Dem Kind ist schlecht = It's bad for the child = The child is sick.

    Ein Kind ist schlect = A child is naughty
    Einem Kind ist schlecht = It's bad for a child = A child is sick.


    So, how would one say "my child's is bad"?


    Well, to start with, one would fix the English starting point. You don't need both the "'s" and the "is" (unless it's supposed to be "my child's X is bad" and you missed a word)

    "My child is bad" is simply "Mein Kind ist schlecht".
    It's only when you do clever things using the dative "Meinem" that you switch the meaning to "for my child, it is bad" (="my child is sick") - hopefully the rest of the discussions here should clear up how that functions.


    Ah! The coin finally dropped. "Meinem" means "for my"! Thanks, now I get it (I think).


    In simple terms, yes, that's the gist of it.

    However, it's really a bit more complicated than that. It really just means "my (something)" is in the indirect object position in the sentence; and depending on the verb, I think the most natural translation could be to one of a few different things like "to my", "from my", or "at my"


    why "my child is bad" is not right??


    Dative case. Look for the other comments, the details are explained numerous times; but essentially it means "for my child, (it) is bad"


    How is this in the dative case?


    So according to this it'd be perfectly acceptable to say: Mir ist schlecht to say I'm sick right?


    Yes. In fact there's a reply by johanov that confirms that exact sentence. It's quite an idiomatic one that implies the "feeling like you're going to vomit" kind of sickness, apparently.

    [deactivated user]

      Probably cause you refused to vaccinate, Karen! Where is your crystal goddess at now, Karen?


      My child is bad.


      I feel so bad I wrote ''My child is ugly''


      Trying to make sense of this. "Mein Kind ist schlecht" would be My child is bad. But here we have dative, "Meinem Kind ist schlecht" so the child becomes the receiver of badness, so therefore he is "My child is not feeling well". Can anyone let me know if this is on the right path as I try to understand the differences?


      It is the right path.


      My child is bad


      You said that a month ago. I'm not sure whether you're putting a wrong translation on purpose, or whether you're complaining about your offspring IRL...


      I have translated this as 'my child is ill' - and the answer is not accepted. Does the translation have to include the word 'feel'?


      Can someone please explain why this sentence is in Dativ? danke.


      check the other comments. there are good explanations at the top as well.


      Meinem Kind geth es schlecht would be an option too?


      How about meinem Kind geht es schlecht

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