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  5. "Ich bin der Erwachsene."

"Ich bin der Erwachsene."

Translation:I am the adult.

January 9, 2013



I'm confused about whether it's der/die/das Erwachsene. Can anyone help?


It's 'der Erwachsene' in general and for a male speaker, 'die Erwachsene' for a female and 'die Erwachsenen' as plural.


But on the Internet it says that "der Erwachsene" is a female adult (I know there is no "die" article, that's also confused me), whereas "der Erwachsener" is a male adult. Can someone clarify the whole thing please? Maybe I know it wrong. Thanks in advance!


"Erwachsener" inflects like an adjective.

So you have "der Erwachsene" (the male adult), "die Erwachsene" (the female adult) both with -e, just as in "der große Mann, die große Frau", but "ein Erwachsener" (a male adult) and "eine Erwachsene" (a female adult) with -er versus -e, just as in "ein großer Mann, eine große Frau".

And the plural would be "die Erwachsenen" (the adults) with the definite article (like "die großen Bücher") but "Erwachsene" (adults) without the article (like "große Bücher").

"Der Erwachsene" cannot refer to a female adult. Perhaps you saw "der Erwachsenen" instead? that is "of the female adult", genitive, or "to the female adult", dative.

And "der Erwachsener" is simply wrong.


I'm listen to "Er-wak-sene. Am I right?


Yes (if you mean a German w, pronounced like an English v).

-chs is usually pronounced like x in German words, e.g. Lachs (salmon) like lax, wachsen (to grow) rhymes with faxen, etc.


"Ich bin der Erwachsene" is the current (incorrect) sentence offered up by Duo. Reported.


What's incorrect about it? What do you think it should be?


Amy91436: there is no der Erwachsener in German - you probably mean der Erwachsene for masculine singular. (But ein Erwachsener with -er if you use the indefinite article.)

Similarly, the plural ends in -e if there is no article (Erwachsene) but if you add the article, it is die Erwachsenen.

die Erwachsene can only be feminine singular, not plural.


Pretty sure the continued confusion comes from Wictionary/Duden where they treat der Erwachsener and die Erwachsene as two totally separate, albeit related, words. This is confusing to us n00bs. Die Erwachsene is the plural for both, and it's explained above, but it is still different and a bit to wrap your head around.

Can't reply, so while I understand the many explanations of "there is no word" -- this link may provide the reasons for confusion: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Erwachsener#German Erwachsener m (nominalised adjective following adjective declension) adult (fully grown male human) and the "related word" is https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Erwachsene#German Erwachsene f (nominalised adjective following adjective declension) adult (fully grown female human)

Note that both are described as nominalized adjectives - nouns, so this is what initially caused my own confusion and I'm guessing is what is causing others the same confusion. There is no preference shown for one over the other, nor are they "normal nouns" with two genders. OIW, it's new and it takes a few moments to digest, especially on a phone when you don't have a bunch of tabs open to look around.


This sentence would seem off in English. One could say "I am an adult" to declare that one is not a child, or "I am the adult" among children to make it clear one has authority, but outside of that example, I can't think of a use for "I am the adult" (with the definite article). How would "Ich bin der Erwachsene" be used in German?


Maybe if there's people going on a train, but one is an adult and the rest have child tickets, so the person giving the tickets knows who to give the adult ticket to? Like they could ask "who is the adult in the group?" and you could respond with "I'm the adult".

Yeah, I forced that a bit but hopefully it was clear.


i thought of when my dad yells at me and says "i'm the adult i pay the bills"


However, Duolingo marked "I am an adult" as wrong. I, too, want to know what this sentence would imply to a German speaker.


I am an adult is general information. I am the adult is in situation like when two people (young & adult) make something wrong and the adult says you have nothing with this, this is all my fault, I am the adult


Exactly my understanding as well.


I clearly hear a 'k' sound in Erwachsene. Is it OK or is it a Duolingo error?


I think that the 'chs' combination in German sounds like an 'x' or 'ks'.

For example, the German word for next is 'nächst', pronounced exactly the same.


Some people say it like that, but the standard pronunciation of “nächster” is [ˈnɛːçstɐ] (the /ch/ is pronounced the same way as in “ich”).


So, from what I gather, "wachsen" means "to grow", which is cognate with English "wax" (not Madame Tussauds wax but wax as in waxing and waning, i.e. growing and shrinking of the moon). Therefore, Erwachsene here means something like grown, grown up, right?


Yep, exactly. The adjective erwachsen means "grown-up".

EDIT: Typo fixed courtesy of the all-seeing mizinamo :)


The base form of the adjective is simply erwachsen.


I looked up in dict.cc. It shows that "Erwachsene" usually refers to female adult, and "Erwachsener" refers to male adult. Could anyone help to explain this?


In German, some nouns behave like adjectives. Here is some more information on adjectival nouns:



Sounds like the beginning of every parent/child fight. Thanks Duo, now I'll have the upper hand.


Why not "Ich bin Erwachsene"?


That would mean "I am adult". You need an article of some sort in order for the sentence to make sense.


Really? That's not how it works with most other Ich bin sentences:
Ich bin Deutscher
Ich bin Studentin
Du bist Bäcker


True, but those are "professions", at least in the loose sense, or perhaps "roles" (e.g for "Studentin").

I wouldn't say:

  • Du bist Junge
  • Ich bin Mensch (though a supermarket chain has the motto "Hier bin ich Mensch, hier kauf' ich ein" - apparently a variation on a quote from Goethe)
  • Ein Tiger ist Raubtier
  • Das ist Bleistift


Ok, thanks for that. So only drop the article for professions/roles and citizenships, but use it otherwise?


As a rule of thumb, yes.


A useful phrase for a 14-year old trying to buy some Schnapps


Not really -- you would want the equivalent of "I'm an adult" for that with indefinite "an" rather than "I'm the adult" with definite "the".


Where would this be used? /:(


I am an adult is general information. I am the adult is in situation like when two people (young & adult) make something wrong and the adult says you have nothing with this, this is all my fault, I am the adult


Indeed. If one wanted to express in German that one has reached the age of maturity would one use 'ein Erwachsener' or 'der Erwachsene'?


I don't understand your question.

It's like the difference between "an adult" and "the adult" in English.

Sometimes you would use one, sometimes the other. Depending on whether an indefinite or definite article is more appropriate.

For example, if someone doubts whether you are allowed to drink alcohol, you might say "Ja, das darf ich; ich bin ein Erwachsener."

While if you are in an argument with your daughter and you want to pull the "because I say so" card, you might say, "Ich bin der Erwachsene." ("I'm the adult", i.e. in this situation, there is only one adult and that's me).


Ok, thanks. Just wanted to be sure because 'I am the adult' would be a bit unusual thing to say. I thought it might be a common expression in German and used in some contexts where in English one would say 'an adult'.


Ah OK. No.

German sometimes uses definite articles differently from English but this isn't one of those cases, I think.


Who ordered this beer?


When someone want to say they're the adult.


This is very much a useful sentence :D

"Warum nicht?!" "Ich bin der Erwachsene."


As one can read here and also in several various dictionaries and textbooks, der/die/das Erwachsene is an adjectival noun and it behaves like an adjective, not like a noun. So it looks like a shortened version of erwachsene Mensch/Person/Mann/Frau where "Mensch/Person/Mann/Frau" is not written but it is implied.

  • ich bin ein erwachsener (Mann) = I am a grown up (man).
  • ich bin eine erwachsene (Frau) = I am a grown up (woman).

Is this an exception or a common way of building nouns in German? Can you build up nouns in a similar way from other adjectives too? Could you say for example like this?

  • Ich bin ein Erfahrener (it should hopefully mean "I am an experienced (person)".
  • Er ist der Gefeuerte (it should hopefully mean "he is the fired (person)".


Nearly! Remember mixed inflection after the indefinite article: ich bin ein erwachsener Mann and Ich bin ein Erfahrener.

Some such adjectives have turned into nouns, sometimes with a fixed meaning not necessarily guessable from the adjective -- e.g. meine Geliebte is not merely "the person who is loved and who is mine; my beloved" but something like "my mistress, paramour, concubine, lover".

But you can also turn any adjective (including past participles) into nouns like that as well, yes.

das Ergoogelte = the thing which has been "googled out" (found out by googling), for example.


Thanks for the clarification! P.S. The mixed inflection forms are fixed now :)


Die Erwachsene or Der Erwachsene ????


"die Erwachsene" is "the (female) adult" and "der Erwachsene" is "the (male) adult".

Either should be accepted, since the English sentence does not specify the gender.


When I looked this up, there's also an "ein ErwachseneR" (see http://tinyurl.com/q98x42l). Why does that have an R, and how is it different than the male/female versions?


Erwachsene is an adjectival noun; it behaves like an adjective. Try this website; it certainly helped me to understand how these things work:



I am not just AN adult, I am THE adult :)


If someone says that he/she is THE adult, then he/she is not... Just saying...


Nope. Context: I'm responsible for a group of teens as a teacher or camp counselor. A bystander may not realize, but in all situations, I am THE adult.


Why there is a Der ?


For the same reason that there is a "the" in the English sentence.

It not only points out that you are adult, but that shared context implies that there is exactly one adult in the situation and you are pointing out that you are this "known" adult.


Having read through all the comments here, I am still completely confused. Having read https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Erwachsener#German and https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Erwachsene#German I understand that "der Erwachsene" is "the male adult"., but "ein Erwachsener" is "a a male adult", I understand that "die Erwachsene" is "the female adult" and "eine Erwachsene" is "a female adult",
but I do not understand why a female speaker says "Ich bin der Erwachsene."

Despite the oddities of the adjectival declension of a pair of related nouns; I still do not understand why this causes a female speaker to use the masculine article to describe herself. Help please.


For the courses that have two text-to-speech voices, I think Duolingo picks one more or less at random for the website -- it doesn't know whether a given sentence would make sense when spoken by a woman or a man.

For the mobile version, I think they try to ensure that the picture is appropriate (e.g. two people if the sentence uses "we", a woman if the sentence is something like "I am a woman", etc.).


Do I understand correctly? You are saying that the course has a woman saying: "I am the [male] adult"?

I find the grammar here complex enough to understand without the addition of that extra layer of implausibility! Given the number of people who have been asking about when "der" should be used, and when "die", I doubt that I am the only person who has been confused by this.


The course has a sentence saying "I am the adult", which may at times be voiced by a male or by a female voice.

However, note that at least for me, die Erwachsene is specifically "the female adult" while der Erwachsene can be "the male adult" but can also be used generically as "the adult".

Thus, I think it would not be unusual to hear a mother saying to her child that Ich bin der Erwachsene! in this generic, rather than specifically male, sense.

A bit like how Wikipedia has articles such as "List of Swedish actors" which contains both male and female actors -- "actress" is specifically female, but the existence of that word does not necessarily mean that "actor" is always exclusively or specifically male.


Thank you. The point about generic (non-gender-specific) adult is a whole new aspect, which I had not thought about.


Google Translate gives me this: "Ich bin der Erwachsenen !" Is "Erwachsenen" correct, or has GT messed up on the case here? I tried "Ich bin kein Erwachsene." in Google Translate, and it translates it as "I am not adults."!


Ich bin der Erwachsenen! is not correct -- with that combination of article and ending, it must be genitive plural, but then the real complement is missing.

Ich bin kein Erwachsene is also not correct: the endings on kein- and Erwachsen- do not fit together.

Also, don't trust Google Translate.

And cases is just one thing it has problems with. It's probably best for languages which are similar to English, such as Spanish or French (which at least have no cases), though then it can mess up gender....


Would it not be 'den Erwachsene' since 'Erwachsene' is in the accusative?


No, because Erwachsene is not in the accusative in this sentence.

"to be" is a copula joining a subject to a predicate that says something about the subject -- and this predicate is in the nominative case. You could think of it as A ist B meaning "A = B"... since A and B refer to the same thing, they're in the same case.


Oh i see. Thanks


The voice clip really sounds like there's an "n" on the tail end of Erwachsene


Correct English is 'I am AN adult'


Correct English is 'I am AN adult'

Eh? Both "I am the adult" and "I am an adult" are correct English sentences -- and they mean different things.

For example, when a mother speaks to her child, she might say "I am the adult" (implying: in this situation, I am the person who is an adult, not you). It would not mean the same if she said "I am an adult".


Why "I'm adult" didn't accept?


der Erwachsene = "the adult"

Also, "I'm adult" sounds very odd to me in English; I don't think I've ever seen "adult" used as a predicate adjective, but only as an attributive adjective (e.g. "an adult male") or as a noun -- in which case, since it is countable, it needs a determiner before it in the singular, e.g. "I'm an adult".


Google Ngram says that both variants are used in the books. The frequency of "am the adult" is two times higher than am adult. Any way thank you for your quick reply.

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