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  5. "Sie kennt den Schweden."

"Sie kennt den Schweden."

Translation:She knows the Swede.

November 5, 2015



So in 'Sie kennt den Schweden' den Schweden is the Swede, whereas in 'Sie spricht mit den Schweden' den Schweden is the Swedes? Excuse me while my brain explodes...


That's right :)

kennen takes the accusative, so den Schweden must be accusative: masculine accusative singular is the only accusative form that has den.

But mit takes the dative, so den Schweden must be dative: dative plural is the only dative form that has den.

Even more confusingly, perhaps, Sie spricht über den Schweden can mean either "She is speaking above the Swedes" or "She is speaking about the Swede"....


Thank you very much for making it very plain. I'll probably never get it but I thank you for your efforts anyway.


I feel the same way


Brilliant. That made me laugh. I'll probably never get it either.


This is very helpful. I need to write this down and just stick it on my monitor -- the Swedes sentences are the only ones consistently still giving me trouble. I always seem to get it wrong. Thanks for spelling it out clearly.


mizinamo, did you maybe mean 'She is speaking ABOUT the Swedes' for the first alternative??

Or does 'den Schweden' (if taken as dative plural) imply that 'ueber' in this case could only mean 'above'?


No, I did not.

In the meaning "about", über takes the accusative case, so "about the Swedes" would be über die Schweden.

über den Schweden with plural Schweden must be dative, and thus über has the meaning of "above" there.


Thanks for quick answer. It confirmed what I later thought.


thanks for the detailed answer; however my brain is also exploding haha


I believe the singular noun is Der Schwede, so I am assuming it undergoes N Deklination in Akkusativ and Dativ?


I believe the singular noun is Der Schwede, so I am assuming it undergoes N Deklination

That's right.


Would 'She knows the Swedish man' be correct, or can 'den Schweden' also refer to a woman?


No, it can't refer to a woman - that would be "Sie kennt die Schwedin."


After looking up dict.cc, it says "der Schwede" is a Swede, so shouldn't it be "Sie kennt den Schwede"?


No, because this is one of those masculine nouns that adds -(e)n in all cases except the nominative.

Thus, the accusative is den Schweden.

See e.g. http://canoo.net/inflection/schwede:N:M


Well, that's confusing. Thanks a lot!


Perhaps one of these Duolingo threads on German masculine weak nouns / N-declension nouns will be helpful:




when it is "sweden, swede, swedes"?


Schweden meaning "Sweden" (the country) is essentially always without the definite article.

So if you see the definite article, it almost certainly will not be the country.

Schwede "Swede, person from Sweden" is a masculine weak noun, meaning that it takes an -n ending in all cases except nominative singular:

So der Schwede must be nominative singular, der Schweden must be genitive plural.

den Schweden could be accusative singular or dative plural. In this sentence, it must be accusative singular, since kennen takes an accusative object, not a dative one.


This is like playing chess!


how do you tell if itäs a person or a country?


The country is neuter and so usually does not use the article. (An exception is if you add an attribute, e.g. das Schweden des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts "the Sweden of the nineteenth century".)

Here, you have the definite article (but no attribute), so it's the person -- and also, the definite article is masculine, so it cannot be the country anyway.


thank you, but what do you mean by attribute?


Something that further describes it, classifies it, or narrows it down such as "the Sweden I used to know" or "the Sweden of the nineteenth century" or "the Sweden that the media show us".

Adjectives are not enough (e.g. wunderschönes Schweden "beautiful Sweden") to force a definite article here.


Your explanations are so helpful. Thank you for taking the time to explain things like this.


You must get tired of answering this question but I cannot make out the difference between “Sie kennt den Schweden” acc. “the Swede” and “Sie kennt den Schweden” plural “the Swedes”. What am I missing here.?


Plural accusative would be die Schweden with the plural accusative article die, not the masculine accusative article den.

(Theoretically, den Schweden could be dative plural, but kennen doesn’t take a dative object.)


Swedes is more than one !


when is "den sweden" plural, and when is it singular? I don't get it? the app wouldn't accept "Sie spricht mit den Schweden" as singular and told me it should be "She is speaking to the Swedes." and Swedes was the only underlined word, but now it accepted "Sie kennt den Schweden" as "she knows the swede". I don't get what is the difference?


mit requires the dative case, so den must be dative plural -- mit den Schweden must mean "with the Swedes".

kennen takes a direct object in the accusative case, so den must be masculine accusative singular -- sie kennt den Schweden must mean "she knows the Swede".

So den Schweden on its own could be either dative plural or masculine accusative singular, but if the context demands a particular case, then that narrows it down to one or the other option.

Where the context may allow either dative or accusative case, it's ambiguous; for example, über den Schweden can mean either "above the Swedes" (locative über taking dative case, so den is dative plural) or "about the Swede" (metaphorical über "about" taking accusative case, so den is masculine accusative singular) or "(to a point) over the Swede / over the Swede (from a point on one side of the Swede to a point on the other side, passing through a point directly overhead)" (destination of motion über taking accusative case).

It's a little bit like something like "the sheep", which in English is ambiguous between singular and plural -- "I see the sheep" could mean either Ich sehe das Schaf (singular) or Ich sehe die Schafe (plural).

But if the context constrains it to a particular number, the ambiguity is resolved, e.g. "the sheep is white" must mean das Schaf ist weiß because the verb "is" indicates that "the sheep" must be singular.


I hear "Sie kennSt den Schweden" in normal speed - but not for the slower. I know it's "kennt", but it maybe could drive some people to make a mistake... (Except if I'm the only one who hear that. xD)


I literally understood nothing because the spaker didn't make a single pause between words ARGH I hate my ears!


This is too confusing. Let's just skip this and never speak of Swedes or Swiss when speaking German


Swedish... Isn't that a better translation. Is it even wrong??


Swedish... Isn't that a better translation.

Not in the least.

"Swedish" is a language, not a person.

Sie kennt den Schweden = She knows the Swede (i.e. the person from Sweden -- not: the language spoken in Sweden).


Why is "she knows the Swedish" not accepted?


Why is "she knows the Swedish" not accepted?

Because a person from Sweden is called "a Swede" in English and not "a Swedish".

Much like a person from England is not "an English" and a person from France is not "a French".


Okay just to confirm

"She knows the Swede"="Sie kennt den Schweden" due to accusatory masculine, and the declination of the weak masculine word "Schwede"

"She knows the Swedes" would be "Sie kennt die Schweden" correct?

Also, are almost all masculine words decline-able? And how do I know when to decline? Which cases cause declination? Also...why so many swede questions...xD


"She knows the Swede"="Sie kennt den Schweden" due to accusatory masculine, and the declination of the weak masculine word "Schwede"

Yes. (but "accusative")

"She knows the Swedes" would be "Sie kennt die Schweden" correct?


Also, are almost all masculine words decline-able?

No, except in the genitive.

The large majority of words of all genders do not take endings any more in modern German.

The main exceptions are:

  • -(e)s for masculine genitive and neuter genitive (der Mann - des Mannes; das Haus - des Hauses)
  • -n for dative plural

Masculine weak nouns in -en (which take -en in all cases except nominative singular) are not all that common overall, and other case endings such as -e for masculine dative are usually only found in fixed expressions such as zu Hause.


How can I tell if Schweden is Swede or Swedes????


How can I tell if Schweden is Swede or Swedes?

Look at the article before it.

Sie kennt den Schweden. -- kennen requires an object in the accusative case, so den has to be masculine accusative: "the Swede"

Sie kennt die Schweden. -- die has to be plural accusative: "the Swedes"

Sie hilft den Schweden. -- helfen requires an object in the dative case, so den has to be plural dative: "the Swedes"

So you have to know which case is required where, and what the various case forms of the article look like.


Why is swedish wrong?


Why is swedish wrong?

  • "Swedish" has to be capitalised in English
  • den Schweden refers to a Swedish person; we call such a person "a Swede" and not "a Swedish" in English.


'She knows the Swede'.

Fine, but a lesson or two ago I was disallowed 'she knows the Swiss' (or similar) because Duo wanted 'the Swiss man'.

'She knows theSwiss' (meaning 'the Swiss man') is perfectly good English (even if the primary meaning, absent any other further context, would probably be 'She knows the Swiss people.'


'She knows the Swede'.

Fine, but a lesson or two ago I was disallowed 'she knows the Swiss' (or similar) because Duo wanted 'the Swiss man'.


Just the way English is.

You can talk to "a Swede" or "a German" but not to "a Swiss" or "a French".


I quite agree that 'a French' would not be correct but I stand by 'a Swiss' as correct, if a little quirky, English usage. We would not say 'a Swissman' (on the pattern of 'a Frenchman') for example.

I think a lot of the discussion on this thread could be clarified with the understanding that there is no standard pattern for the formation of demonyms in English. They are often irregular and simply must be learned (like verbs!)

You have got me thinking and googling, however. I see that Wikipedia goes with '[a/the] Swiss' in this list:


Then I started looking for those '...walk into a bar' jokes and saw a variety of alternatives; 'a Swiss', 'a Swiss man' and a 'Swiss guy'.


I would guess that these words are often in a state of flux, perhaps because they are bound up with perceptions of national or ethnic respect. For example, the once standard 'a Chinaman' is no longer considered appropriate. Perhaps eventually they will all converge on 'a ---- person' as the safest formula.


It seems possible, though, to speak of the entire population of people in Sweden as, "The Swedish" e.g. "The Swedish are friendly folks."

We can do a similar thing with the population of French people, "The French seem to be very mysterious." How about those who reside in England: "The English are quite agreeable." When speaking of the people in Switzerland, "The Swiss have nice clocks."... doesn't work for every country, but clearly it applies in some cases.

In this context, it seems possible that the sentence, "She knows the Swedish." is equally valid & would imply that she has an overarching understand of the culture or population in the country of Sweden.

Mizinamo, what is the German translation for the sentence, "She knows the Swedish."?


Then you would be talking about many Swedish people, not just one, so you would need plural accusative, not masculine accusative: Sie kennt die Schweden.


You know... I have never thought there was a word for a person from Sweden other than 'person from Sweden'... or any other country... I am so ignorant xD.

Now, before I decide to use any of these terms... can they be considered racist, xenophobic, or rude in any context; i.e. "those swedes smell of meatballs" (this is the worst thing I could bring myself to say so don't judge)


You do not have to understand the grammar until you are able to speak A2-B1, children have no idea of grammar but speak perfectly grammatically correct.


Is Swede a person? Becauses it corrected "She knows the Swedes" to "She knows the Swede" but that seems to indicate she knows only one Swede.


Is Swede a person?

"a Swede" is a person.

(It's countable, so it needs a determiner before it in the singular.)

She knows the Swede" but that seems to indicate she knows only one Swede.

The definite article "the" indicates that she knows one particular Swede that we have been talking about before or whom the listener can somehow identify.

It doesn't say anything about whether or not she knows anyone else (including other Swedes who exist in the world).


what does a swede even means? im not a native speaker


what does a swede even means?

Please use proper capitalisation.

"a swede" is a vegetable -- the British name for what Americans call "a rutabaga".

"a Swede" is a person who comes from Sweden (a country in northern Europe; capital: Stockholm).


Is it correct in English to say the Sweden referring to the country, is not right to say just Sweden?


Is it correct in English to say the Sweden referring to the country


is not right to say just Sweden?

Just "Sweden" is the correct way to refer to the country. Like with "Canada, France, Russia, Japan" and basically all countries.

The main exceptions are when the country name is plural (the Netherlands, the Philippines) or contains a common noun (the United Kingdom, the United States, the Republic of Korea).


Thanks, but I just realized that in this case it is not referring to the country, but to a citizen


Sie kennt den Schweden Den Schweden, masculine accusative Der Schwede, the Swede Die Schweden, the Swedes Das Schweden, Sweden


Is schweizer a weak noun too? Or just some of nouns?

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