Use of Das vs Dies vs Diese (Nominativ)
I have some trouble with das, dies and diese.
The way I understand it: "das" is "that" and "dies" is "this".
Then you never decline das, which stays the same for all genders and cases.
Dies on the other hand changes according to gender (and cases, but I'm not going to explore that for now) which makes it Diese for feminine and plural.
But then, why would you say "Dies sind meine Katzen" ??
Please correct me and help my understand that! Thanks in advance :-)
Okay, I'll try to explain... First of all, there is no such clear cut difference in German as in English between this and that. In principle, there are the two forms dieses (this) and jenes (that), but Germans pretty much never use "jenes" anymore. We just always use the same.
Then you have a big difference between spoken German and written German. Spoken German is a lot more colloquial and often uses words with special emphases to mean different things; since you can't see the emphasis in written German, we tend to use more distinct words there.
So let's start with das. Normally, it's just an article for neuter words, like "das Auto". But if you use it without any noun it refers to, it becomes a demonstrative pronoun:
Das Auto ist schön - the car is nice.
Das ist schön - this is nice.
Since it doesn't refer to anything in particular, it doesn't get any flection. Whatever you currently do or see or experience, it is nice.
Now if you want to talk about a specific noun and use a demonstrative like "this car", you use dieses. Since it refers to a noun which has a gender and also a case, you have to decline it according to the noun:
This car is nice - dieses Auto ist schön. (nominative sg neuter)
This dog is dangerous - dieser Hund ist gefährlich. (nominative sg masc.)
This cat is black - diese Katze ist schwarz. (nominative sg. fem)
These children are loud - diese Kinder sind laut. (nominative pl)
I like this dog - ich mag diesen Hund (accussative sg. masc.)
and so on. You can look the tables up.
You can actually drop the noun here, but you still match the pronoun to the item you refer to:
Dieser Ring gefällt mir - I like this ring.
Dieser gefällt mir - I like this one.
You mean a specific noun without naming the noun, so this one is a pretty good translation in my opinion. Compare to unspecific "I like this" - "ich mag das".
So far is what you would probably use in writing. In speech, you sometimes use the article as a demonstrative, but then it gets a flection, too. You have to lay heavy emphasis on the article to convey that you use it as demonstrative pronoun:
Der Hund ist gefährlich - the dog is dangerous.
Der Hund ist gefährlich - this dog is dangerous.
again, you can drop the noun but keep the declinated form and the emphasis:
Der ist gefährlich - this one is dangerous.
At last, we have dies without any ending. You can use it the same way you used das as a demonstrative in the example above:
Das ist schön - this is nice.
Dies ist schön - this is nice.
It sounds a little more stilted. You would mostly hear it while someone points a finger and explains something, but using das is correct then as well, so you can easily live without dies.
There are some more obscure demonstrative pronouns in german, like the aforementioned jener, derjenige, derselbe and solcher, but you don't need to worry about them for now.
Could you please expand a little about the use of the demonstrative pronouns in the plural? Duo is not accepting: "Diese sind meine Kinder" (These are my children) and correcting the "diese" with a "dies" or "das"- why is "Diese" not accepted? - several users asked this question in the discussion part of the exercise, but no one has clarified it.
To add to the confusion, I see that in your post you have included: These children are loud - diese Kinder sind laut. (nominative pl)
You use "diese" when it directly refers to "Kinder":
These children belong to me. = Diese Kinder gehören zu mir.
This isn't the case in your sentence though. "These" stands on its own, you could add another noun to clarify:
"These [persons] are my children."
While it is not exactly wrong to say "diese [Personen] sind meine Kinder", no one in Germany says that, because it's just not necessary to add or imply the noun or link the demonstrative grammatically to the children like you do in English. You just point to whatever you mean, so you would use das/ dies like in the last example of my post above. Most likely is just to say "Das sind meine Kinder".
Thank you for the quick reply! Reading what you wrote, it seems to me that a simple rule is that "das/dies," comes before the verb, therefore separated from the noun, for example, "Das sind die Orangen," while "diese" is placed directly before the noun: Ich mag diese Orangen, for example. Das it seem right to you? Are there exceptions?
Exceptions ... I guess there are always exceptions. But you mostly use "diese(r)" alone when you want to avoid to repeat a noun:
"Ich mag viele Filme mit Johnny Depp, aber dieser  ist langweilig."
In the brackets, you could repeat "Film", but you just skip it. In such a case, it's okay to use "diese" directly in front of a verb.
Could not the sentence "Diese sind meine Kinder" be understood as an answer to a question like, say, "Wer sind diese?" (Who are these?)
I am struggling (and other people also are) to understand why "Diese sind Zeitungen" is not an acceptable translation of "These are newspapers". I think your explanation is very clear/good, but I still think there is scope for this sentence to be understood as an asnwer to a question like "What are these?"
I found out something interesting about that. English is somehow special with using “this/that” and “these/those”. Look:
English: This is my child. These are my children.
German: Das ist mein Kind. Das sind meine Kinder.
French: C’est mon enfant. Ce sont mes enfants. (Ce est = c’est)
Polish: To jest moje dziecko. To są moje dzieci.
Can you see? The verb changes (ist, sind — est, sont — jest, są) but „das”, „ce” or „to” remain. They are “dummy words”. I don’t know how other languages work in this case. But it seems to me, that English is the big exception in adjusting (?) this to these.
The question “wer sind diese” is very unnatural. “Wer sind diese Männer?“, „wer sind diese Frauen?“ = ok! But not „wer sind diese?“
I know this is an old post but if I understand correctly,
"Das sind meine Kinder" = "These are my children" and I am introducing them "Diese sind meine Kinder" = Someone just said "wow you really like your dogs" and you said "yeah, these [dogs] are my children" Diese Kinder gehören zu mir = you are an evil fairy kidnapping the children, the children belong to you
Hm, though, this doesn't clarify quite why "This Hause has a lot of stairs" can't be "Das Hause hat..." and must be "Dies Haus hat..." which is the sentence that sent me looking for answers.
I wrote one on nicht somewhere, but I don't find it anymore. Meanwhile, you could use this link. http://german.about.com/od/grammar/a/The-Position-Of-Nicht.htm
Conjuctions are fairly easy, there are just two different kinds. The ones who connect two or more main clauses, and the ones who connect a subclause to the main clause.
Type1: connecting main clauses: aber (but), denn (because), oder (or), sondern (the "other" but, after a negation), und (and)
The first main clause ends with a comma before aber, denn + sondern, but you don't need one in front of und + oder. After that, the second main clause is placed with the same word order as the first (verb second in statements, verb first in questions and commands).
If the subject and/or verb in the second clause is the same as in the first, you can omit them, unless you have the conjunction denn (don't ask me why):
Ich liege im Bett, aber (ich) kann nicht schlafen.
Wir gehen jetzt, denn wir (!) müssen den Bus noch erreichen.
Ich will keinen Kaffee, sondern (ich will) Tee.
Wir laufen und ihr (lauft) auch.
Soll ich gehen oder (soll ich) bleiben?
These conjuctions do not take up a "spot" in the sentence, so you don't count them when you determine where the verb has to go.
und + oder can also connect subclauses:
Ich fragte ihn, ob er noch bleiben (könne) und (er) mit mir das Spiel ansehen könne.
Es ist mir egal, ob du mir zuhörst oder (ob du mir) nicht (zuhörst).
As you can see, it's a little difficult in which of those you then can actually leave out the recurring parts, but that's a problem for a different explanation, okay? You can always write them all down if you are unsure, it's not that elegant, but it is grammatically correct.
There are also some two-part conjuctions: "sowohl... als auch" (as well as), "weder...noch" (neither...nor), "Entweder...oder" (either...or), "zwar...aber" (in fact... but), "nicht nur... sondern auch" (not only... but also), where each clause gets preceeded by one of these parts.
Type2: connecting a main clause with a subclause
There are a big bunch of those and you can find many of them here: http://www.canoo.net/services/OnlineGrammar/Wort/Konjunktion/Gebrauch/subord.html
The most important part to remember is that the subclause always begins with them. The clauses also are always separated by a comma. The actual order of the clauses however is your choice:
Ich weiß, dass du mich liebst! (main clause, subclause)
Dass du mich liebst, weiß ich. (subclause, main clause)
Note that in the second example, the word order of the main clause is twisted. This is because the subordinate clause actually counts as "spot 1" of the sentence, so it is immediately followed by the main verb in "spot 2".
The word order of the subordinate clause stays unaffected, the verb still comes at the end of the clause. Another fixed position is the subject of the subclause (du), which always comes directly after the conjuction. You can not slip it around.
Sakasiru's comment from another thread:
The placement of nicht is really pretty complicated, and I don't think I can give you a rule that fits for every sentence, but there are some guidelines I can give you.
If you want to negate an adverb(ial), you put the nicht in front of it:
Das Hemd ist nicht grün - the shirt is not green.
If you want to negate an adjective, you don't use nicht at all, but kein(e):
Das ist kein grünes Hemd - this is not a green shirt.
That's because you really negate the unspecified noun in this sentence:
Das ist kein Hemd - this is not a shirt.
But if you want to negate a specific noun, you set the nicht in front of everything that specifies it:
Das ist nicht das grüne Hemd - this is not the green shirt
What's left to do is to negate the verb, and here it gets complicated.
To negate a verb, you put the nicht at the end of the sentence, because you negate the action of the whole sentence:
Er findet das grüne Hemd nicht - he does not find the green shirt.
That sounds easy enough, but if you have more than one verb, you may already know that they get piled up at the end of the clause too. And let's just say they bully the nicht a little back in line:
Er kann das grüne Hemd nicht finden - he cannot find the green shirt.
I hope this helps you a little in the neverending quest to place the dreaded nicht...
The usage of ‘nicht’ isn't complicated at all once you know the system; the reason you deem it so is because you're missing something crucial about how German grammar works. I myself am Dutch, which in this case is really similar in structure, so I intuitively understand what's going on and I've tried to clarify this in a previous post.
This is a helpful comment but it would be more complete if you were explicit about how to say "that" in the various ways. You focus on "with" with "das" and "dies-" and "dies", leaving the reader to wonder if they also mean "that" and if so how to distinguish an intended "this" from an intended "that."
Here it is - "Deklination des Demonstrativpronomens" and others... https://www.wissen.de/rechtschreibung/deklinationstabellen
Grammar explanations in Duo for the more advanced lessons are in the comments sections like this one. In the early lessons basic issues like singular/plural, gender and such can be discussed in a general sense.
In later issues things that are highly specific and advanced are best dealt with as requested by posters.
If you go to "Discussion" then "following" you can see them, but the problem is you'll probably only see the ones you have initiated in the forums yourself. I was told that you can also see the ones on individual sentences (like this one), but they appear under the date when the first comment was posted, and that can be more than five years ago. (I have not been able to confirm this, and I have searched and searched). Anyway, I think it should be a feature that anything you push the "follow" button on should be added to your followed list at the top. I have made this suggestion a few times but admin has not responded or noticed. I think they are too busy re-designing aesthetics most the time.
Much simpler to just save the entire web page on your computer (shortcut: ctrl+s).
I suggest you read my exchange above with Sakasiru -- he cleared my doubts forever! (You can't use 'diese" because it comes before the verb, which requires Das, dies -- you can use it before the noun, no problem, if that is where it falls according to the sentence structure. Note, we're talking here about the use in the nominative case. For accusative, read farther down.) Viel Glück!
From what I have read it depends on what it is you are trying to say.
You are looking at a photo.
You want to say These are children. You say diese.
You want to say These (das) are children, these (diese) are the terrorists. That/das (the children in the photo) is unimportant because they are not what is of interest to us. These/diese (the terrorists) are what we are focusing on.
I suppose you could use Diese sind Katzen if you wanted to emphasize that they are actually cats in some sort of context where it was not apparent that they are.
As far as I know (native speaker), "flect" is not English. I see it quite a bit on Duo but I have never commented on it. The intended meaning is obvious and whoever has written it is always making a helpful comment, so it seems ungrateful. On the other hand, we are all here to learn, so perhaps I should say something. (Oh! I just did.) Back on the first hand, I half-expect that someone will now reply to say that "flect" is perfectly OK in their dialect of English. That happens quite a bit on Duo, too!
Flect is urban language. Typically it is used by minorities who value using non standard language to self identify.
Basically, it means the same thing as flicked except altered in appearance and sound because of the limited language skill of the urban youth.
There is the latin word flect which is the root of some common English words. But it is not a stand alone word in common English.
I think it should be Diese sind... Check out the grammar rules for demonstrative pronouns... http://www.germanlanguageguide.com/german/grammar/demonstrative-pronoun.asp
I just did a bunch of research on this tonight because I just finished the Nominative Pronouns lesson, and was painfully confused too... So heres what I figured out, and if Im wrong please, any and everyone let me know!
From what I understand, das is an indefinite pronoun, and like you said, stays the same for all genders and cases. So its for when you are directing towards something in general, not specific. Dies / Diese / Dieser are definite pronouns, change according to gender and are directed at something specific.
And from everything Im understanding, what thevlookup says is right because in your sentence, the subject is something specific (meine Katzen) and Katzen is plural, so you'd use the definite pronoun Diese.
I seriously hope that Im right, if not my brain is going to explode lol
Argh! Okay yeah, frustrating! lol Hopefully someone will come along with an answer for why Dies is right.
Okay, what I have in my notes here is:
Das - indefinite ; Dies - neutral indefinite (not commonly used)
Dieser - masc definite ; Diese - fem definite ; Dieses - neut definite.
ETA: You know what...I think that I know what it is...its not "that" to "cat", but "that" to "my"... since "my" doesnt have a gender, then I think either Das or Dies would be correct. ....UGH okay, just read your initial post again...you did put Das and it was marked as wrong?
Im officially confused. All I thought I knew, I dont know LoL
Ohhh you're right. I'm finally getting the hang on it. I've found some additional material and here it goes: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110418025837AAXnxaY
So, basically, Dieser/Dieses/Diese is the right way to go. However, Dies is sometimes used when you're talking about something indefinite, like "Was ist Dies?" (What is this?). Then you would answer "Dies ist meine Katze". But you can never say "Dies Katze" = it's "Diese Katze".
So, "Dies", just like "Das", can only be used alone, not before a noun, and they are very linked to the idea of pointing towards something.
Every "the" is considered as masculine if there is no object just after "the".
Like, in your sentence there is no object just immediately after "the" and as far as cats are concerned, "my" is being used as an adjective, therefore it has been changed. Not "the" is being used as an adjective.