"Duo stiehlt dem Pinguin seinen Anzug."

Translation:Duo is stealing the penguin's suit.

November 5, 2015

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First Duo wanted to be a penguin, but since it didn't work out, he settled for less


Duo wanted to be a penguin so bad he skinned one for a meat suit. :(


He has the Suit for sale on the Store!


Alternatively, "Duo is stealing The Penguin's suit". That casts Duo in a more (super) heroic light.


It's an expression, a turn of phrase?


"Duo stiehlt dem Pinguin seinen Anzug." sound odd to me. I prefer the genitive: "Duo stiehlt den Anzug des Pinguins."


Both sound fine to me, though colloquially, I'd turn the second one into von+dative myself: "Duo stiehlt den Anzug vom Pinguin".

It's useful to at least recognise this use of dative with "stehlen", though, e.g. "Der Mann hat mir die Handtasche gestohlen" / "Der Mann hat mir meine Handtasche gestohlen".


Does this work?
"Duo stiehlt dem Pinguin den/einen Anzug."


Does this work?
"Duo stiehlt dem Pinguin den/einen Anzug."

Duo stiehlt dem Pinguin den Anzug. sounds a bit odd to me.

Duo stiehlt dem Pinguin einen Anzug. "Duo steals a suit from the penguin." sounds fine to me, though.

"Duo steals

  • 2025

Just to clarify: There are two possible readings of this sentence. But they mean the same.

A) (Duo) (stiehlt) (dem Pinguin) (seinen Anzug).

"Dem Pinguin" is the dative object, "seinen Anzug" is the accusative object. An equivalent sentence would be: "Der Mann gibt dem Hund einen Keks."

This is the intended reading of the sentence.

You could try to translate it as "Duo steals his suit from the penguin", but that is not a valid interpretation. The problem is that due to German sentence structure, the "seinen" appears after the penguin. This, together with the meaning (why would he steal his own suit?), makes the meaning clear. So the only "good" translation is "Duo is stealing the penguin's suit."

B) (Duo) (stiehlt) (dem Pinguin seinen Anzug).

This is very colloquial German, not a structure used in standard German. Literally, it means "Duo steals (the penguin his suit)". Or, in better English, "Duo is stealing the penguin's suit".

So yeah, both readings have the same meaning.

The real question is, why do you complain about the grammar, but find it OK that Duo is stealing the poor penguin's suit? ;)


I think I understand better. Have a lingot!

I read it as "Duo steals the penguin his suit", which is nonsense. But because "dem Penguin" is dative the sentence implies "from the" rather than just "the". So it's literally "Duo steals FROM the penguin his suit", or more naturally "Duo steals the suit from the penguin".

If I've got any of that wrong you can give my lingot back.


"Duo steals the penguin his suit" was not nonsense in medieval English. Medieval people used similar phrases denoting possession (the man his dog etc) and over time it was shortened to "the penguin's suit" (or the man's dog) with an apostrophe showing the missing letters ("hi"). There is no eqivalent for the female version (eg "the woman her book") naturally!!


Whilst I recognise the introduction of a new structure, whilst at a relatively early learning stage this can end up confusing the learner, particularly if, as you say, it is "very" colloquial. This is really at C1 level.


I think I understand worse now. It's not clear to me at all what the difference is between these 'readings' since they mean the same thing.


Dem does not mean "from the" but "to the" . Best explanation I have to understand this ununderstandable sentence is: Deutsch ist verrückt! My wifes explanation is : Just because!


Dem does not mean "from the" but "to the" .

Not always.

Sometimes it means "for the" or "from the" -- this is the (anti)benefactive dative (dativus commodi vel incommodi in Latin), used to indicate for whose benefit (or to whose detriment) an action happens.

For example, Ich kaufe dem Mann ein Buch "I am buying the man a book" - the indirect object shows that the purchase is for the benefit of the man: you're not buying the book "to the man" but "for the man".

On the other hand, Ich nehme dem Mann das Buch weg "I am taking the book away from the man" also has dative dem Mann as the person affected, but negatively this time.


Wouldn't a more correct translation be"Duo stiehlt den Anzug des Pinguins"? Why is the dative case used here, instead of genitive?


I would translate both Duo stiehlt dem Pinguin seinen Anzug and Duo stiehlt den Anzug des Pinguins into "Duo steals the penguin's suit", but that's more a shortcoming of English -- both sentences are possible in German but English has no good way, I think, to render the nuance of Duo stiehlt dem Pinguin seinen Anzug well.

It uses the dative dem Penguin as a benefactive/antibenefactive (dativus commodi vel incommodi), signifying the person for whose benefit or to whose harm something happened; in this case, that the stealing of the suit affected the penguin negatively.

On the other hand, Duo stiehlt den Anzug des Pinguins is neutral and just says that the suit gets stolen, without the nuance of the penguin being affected negatively by the act.

In English, you can say "I will buy you a book" but you can't say "I will steal you your suit" (well, if you tried, that kind of indirect object can only indicate benefit, not harm, as in "I will steal you your suit back" = I will steal your suit from someone else for your benefit).


Great explanation. Thanks.


It sounds very colloquial, if the German translation is: ".....dem Pinguin seinen Anzug". I propose: "Duo stiehlt den Anzug des Pinguins". That is better High German. I have reported it as a mistake. I have really read all the comments. (;


That is better High German.

Er, what?

The two sentences mean (slightly) different things. I wouldn't call either of them bad German.


No, the expression "dem Pinguin seinen Anzug" does not sound like good German. Then I would rather propose "dem Pinguin den Anzug" or "den Anzug des Pinguins".

I use another example: "Der Mann stiehlt dem Chef seinen Mantel" is also a bit surprising and strange. Why? Because nobody knows whose is the stolen coat? Is it the man's coat or the coat of the boss? The additional "seinen" is wrong here and really not necessary.

I find the German sentence colloquial, maybe because I would not use such a sentence for myself, but it sounds really not fine.


Schlechter Vogel


I think you mean Böser Vogel.

You're not saying he's bad at being a bird; you're saying he has a bad character.


This is so hard and confusing! Does it mean Duo is stealing the suit from the penguin? Or Duo is stealing a suit for the penguin, to give it to him?


The first. Duo is stealing the suit that belongs to the penguin.

[deactivated user]

    Meiner Meinung, "Duo steals the suit of the penguin." should be accepted.


    I thought it meant "Duo steals his suit from the penguin" (steals back the suit). How do you know that the 'seinen' belongs to the Penguin and not Duo? Thanks!


    The use of the benefactive dative implies to me that the suit belongs to the penguin.

    Also, pragmatics: generally, "stealing" implies depriving someone of their (own) property.

    If I am taking care of your book for you, and a thief comes and steals the book, then they didn't really "steal the book from me", did they? It wasn't my book.

    I might say, Er hat dein Buch aus meinem Haus gestohlen "He stole your book (from) out of my house" instead.


    Actually I would say that "Someone stole the book from you", if someone stole a book from your house that I had lent you. They would also have stolen it from me, as the book's owner, but since you were in temporary possession of the book, it was you from whom they took it. Of course, you could also put a possessive pronoun in there ("Someone stole my book from you") to clarify things. But (as a native English speaker), I find "He stole the book from out of my house" to be a rather awkward sentence on its own (e.g., not in answering a question about where the book was).

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    If you were translating the other way, would it be wrong to drop "seinen" ? It's just odd that it completely disappears from the english translation. How would you know to put in "seinen" ... penguins come in other genders.


    How would you know to put in "seinen"

    Because the word Pinguin is grammatically masculine.

    • 2360

    What does grammatically masculine have to do with choice of pronoun? Couldn't it be "ihren anzug" ? Or are you saying that the "seinen" refers to Duo, not the penguin? In which case a confusing sentence just got confusier.


    What does grammatically masculine have to do with choice of pronoun?

    The fact that you refer to masculine words with masculine pronouns.

    For example, der Löffel ist seinen Preis wert but die Gabel ist ihren Preis wert for "The spoon/fork is worth its price", using seinen (literally, "his") for the masculine Löffel but ihren (literally, "her") for the feminine Gabel. Even Das Mädchen hat seinen Stift verloren "The girl has lost her pen" with neuter seinen (literally, "its") for the neuter Mädchen.

    Hence also seinen Anzug with masculine sein- to agree with masculine Pinguin.

    Couldn't it be "ihren anzug" ?

    No, because (a) Anzug has to be capitalised and (b) ihren would refer to a feminine owner, while the noun Pinguin is masculine.


    What's wrong with "Duo steals from the penguin his suit." Seems to be the most obvious and accurate answer. When learning, I try to put the English words into German word order where possible. It's easier for me to reconstruct that order into German when I need to recall it.


    I try to put the English words into German word order where possible.

    And that will often result in being marked wrong.

    Duo expects a translation into natural English, not into English with German word order.


    How do I know who the possessive pronoun 'seinen' is referring to? I thought Duo is stealing his suit from the penguin as opposed to Duo is stealing the penguin's suit.


    That's not very nice of you, Duo.


    I guess he wants to fight Batman

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