1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. "Ich habe ein paar Bücher."

"Ich habe ein paar Bücher."

Translation:I have a few books.

December 26, 2015



Why cant ein paar be translated a pair? I thought a couple and a pair are pretty much the same thing. Like a handful and a few : between 2 and 5.


That's only when it's capitalised- that makes it a noun, and a literal pair.

Uncapitalised, it's used as an adjective or adverb, and is more like 'a couple, a few'.

Ich habe ein Paar Schuhe.- I have a pair of shoes.

Michael und Maria sind ein Paar - Michael and Maria are a couple.

Ich brauche ein paar Tage - I need a few days.

Noch ein paar Minuten - a few minutes more.


How could you distinguish 'Paar' and 'paar' from context? Would a german know that I'm saying that I have a few books instead of a pair of books when speaking this sentence to him?

  • 2004

Ja, kein Problem. A German would always understand it as a few books.

"Paar" means always two and they must be related to each other:
ein Paar Augen, ein Paar Hände, das Brautpaar, das Paar, ein Paar Socken, ein Paar Schuhe.

If there is no relation between the two, then you must use the number:
zwei Bücher, zwei Kinder, zwei Äpfel, zwei Hunde.

If there is a little, indeterminate, not related quantity, but usually more than two, then you use “ein paar”:
ein paar Bücher, ein paar Kinder, ein paar Äpfel, ein paar Hunde.


If you were to "go buy some socks" rather than a pair, would you use "etwas" instead to avoid confusion?

  • 2004

No, you can't use "etwas". You would simply say:
Ich gehe Socken (noun in plural) kaufen.
Ich gehe Schuhe kaufen.


Many thanks for the very clear reply.


The intonation is different.

Ich kaufe ein paar Socken (I’m buying a couple of socks) has ein paar unstressed and Socken stressed.

Ich kaufe ein Paar Socken (I’m buying one pair of socks) has ein stressed (since it means “one” rather than “a”) and may have Paar stressed as well (since it’s a noun here and not just a kind of numeral) as well as Socken.

So you would hear the difference in speech as well.


Yes. Just like an american would always know the difference between, know and no. Their, there and they're. Or (normally) the difference between when someone is being sarcastic or serious.


English speaking people, especially from America, definitely do NOT always know the difference between their, they're, and there :)


The "especially from America" is unnecessarily pejorative.

Technically you're correct about "not always": there's very little in life that is always. But although many people misspell their, they're, and there, as one or the other, I suspect that they still almost always know which meaning they actually intend.


It's relative. If you want to be specific then you wouldn't use "paar..."


Wow. In all my years of having studied German, I don't know that that ever came up in class. Danke!


How does one differentiate between what is capitalized and what isn't when speaking?


Context and practice. :)

There aren't many situations where the meaning wouldn't be clear.

It's no different to, for instance, I need a few minutes in English. A few can be a physical quantity or an indeterminate amount, but the meaning is clear from the phrasing.


Particularly apt example, since in English, we frequently say "I need a couple minutes" when we mean we need a few, not specifically two.


Genau, danke schon


But in this context translating it into a noun is accepted! It says "a couple of books" is an acceptable answer. In this instance "a pair of books" would be functionally the same.


See below WRT "a pair".


It's likely been added as an additional answer in the eight months since this question was first posted.


"I have a couple of books," would be an acceptable translation. "I have a pair of books," is less so.

"I have a few books," would be best. (See hedi76's comment.)

The point is that "ein paar" is more like "a few" or "a couple" than "a pair".


Does "ein paar" mean a couple as in two, or does it mean more than two?


I read your other comment as well. Let me say firstly that I'm a native English speaker who grew up in a family of native English speakers, and my dad (and his family) uses the phrase "a couple of" to mean the same as "a few", even if he isn't talking about "a coupla minutes." It used to confuse my mom, who always took it literally to mean exactly two, until he clarified himself.

Anywho, from what I've read in comments on other related sentences (or maybe this one), "ein paar," when it's all lowercase, means "a few", or rather "a couple" in the loose sense that my dad would use it in. "ein Paar" would mean a literal "pair" or a literal "couple" of things, so far as I understand it.


That’s right.


But isn't it acceptable to say I have a pair of sth, in English?


It is.

And if the German sentence we were asked to translate was "Ich habe ein Paar Bücher", then that would be a good translation.

Capitalization matters.


A "pair" is two. No more; no less.

A "couple" is usually two--no more, no less--but there are a couple of situations where it's less definite (particularly in the phrase "a couple of"): e.g., "we're eating in a couple of minutes", or "I saw a couple of friends."

Regardless, "ein Paar" is not the same as "ein paar" in that the former is "two", but the latter could mean "some" (although it could come to mean two, too).

  • 2004

I like your comment because you use three times the English “a couple of” for the German ”ein paar”. Could it be possible to color the whole expression “a couple of” with yellow and not only the word “couple”? “Couple” alone is a noun and means “Paar” while “a couple of” means “ein paar”. Maybe coloring the whole expression could help others to understand better the German one.


Das ist ein guter Punkt ich denke. "A couple of . . . " könnte (normalerweise?) "zwei Dingen" bedeuten, aber möglicherweise drei oder mehr. Jedoch, "a couple" allein ist immer zwei. (Und manchmal ergibt drei . . . . )

  • 2004

In German “ein paar” are always 3 or more, unless you guess wrong. F. ex.

You hear a huge noise on the roof and you assume that there must be a whole pack (Rudel) of cats. Your comment: “Ein paar Katzen raufen sich auf dem Dach.“ Later on it turns out that there were only two.

If you had known there were two cats on the roof, the correct way to say it would have been: “Zwei Katzen raufen sich auf dem Dach”.


Gute erklarung. Danke, hedi76. Das wird ich nicht vergessen.

  • 2004

Ja, "a couple / ein Paar" sind immer zwei, könnten aber nach neun Monaten plötzlich drei sein. ☺


Actually a pair and a few is different. Even in english. You don't say "I have a pair of books". You say "I have a few books". For things that come in two's like socks and shoes. Pair refers to something where there is 2. A few can be anywhere between 2-5. If you have 2 books, you can say you have pair of books, but it's just a weird way to say it. In german, it's a subtle difference. You really need to pay attention to those caps (capital letters)! But it makes sense. Let's take one of his examples. 'Ich brauche ein paar Tage' I need a few days. Make that p capital and you have 'I need a pair of days'. Almost the same thing, but not quite.

  • 2004

Maybe it works in English because “a pair” is always 2 and “a few” are some. You have two different expressions that make clear the quantity you are speaking about.

In German there is only one word for both quantities and you would need to see it written to understand what you really mean. Therefore you can't say "Ich brauche ein Paar Tage", with capital letter referring to 2 days. Everybody would understand it as “I need a few days”.

Speaking about 2 days you have to use the number: “Ich brauche zwei Tage”.


Ein paar isn't "a few?" I thought wenig meant just plain "few."

[deactivated user]

    Okay, difference beetwen etwas and paar...


    "Pair" and "couple" are identical. Both words mean "two" of something. Duo is wrong to mark "pair" for "paar" as incorrect.


    I agree with you that pair and couple both mean two of something, but pair indicates that the two share something, are part of a set or that they match, whereas couple is less specific - a collection of two of any type of thing.


    did you try answering "couple" for "paar"?

    • 2004

    DL is correct to mark "pair" and "couple" for "paar" as incorrect, as these two words mean "Paar" (noun, with capital letter).


    I disagree.

    In my experience, for most English speakers, "a couple of ..." does not imply "exactly two", let alone "exactly two which belong together".

    • 2004

    Maybe my answer to Bill4866's comment wasn't very clear. Sorry. He wrote that DL marked "pair" and "couple" for "paar" as incorrect.

    I think, DL was correct by doing this. "paar" is grammatically an indefinit pronoun while "pair" and "couple" are nouns.
    Therefore the correct word in German for "pair" and "couple" is "Paar" (noun) and not "paar".

    I agree, the cluster "a couple of" does not imply exactly two and would be translated as "ein paar" ("paar" written with small letter).


    My own experience in English leads me to believe otherwise. A couple means two, aside from some limited exceptions such as, "a coupla minutes."


    couple does not mean 2. Therefore your statement is incorrect.


    Sorry, but "couple" does mean two.

    It can also be used informally to refer to a small number of something.

    But don't take my word for it. Look at what the Oxford English Dictionary says about it.


    Why isn't this "eine paar"? Since Bücher is plural? Help would be appreciated :)

    • 2004

    “ein paar” is the number word for a plural, not defind quantity. So it is not necessary to put it in plural a second time.


    i have a lot of books!


    Manche= some Etwas = some

    How different between them?


    Manche usually refers to a logical amount. Like ''Sometimes'', which is ''Manchmal'' in German. Etwas can mean ''Something'' or also just refer to the word ''Some'', but only when referring to a physical something. Using ''Manche'' as a physical concept is more archaic in nature, or even poetic.


    Why can’t we say Ich habe etwas Bücher Wouldn’t that be the same ?


    No, it's not.

    etwas basically means "something".

    Before an uncountable object, it can also mean "a bit of", as in etwas Wasser "a bit of water, some water".

    But you can't have etwas Bücher "a bit of books".


    Aber kann man "etwas ein Buch" haben? Ein Blatt oder eine Seite, na?

    Würde man stattdessen "etwas eines Buchs" sagen?


    I don't think the genitive works here - I would only use von: ein bisschen von einem Buch. (etwas von einem Buch might also work but sounds less good to me.)

    On the other hand, ein Teil can go with either: ein Teil eines Buchs; ein Teil von einem Buch.

    etwas ein Buch does not work at all. (If anything, it would be etwas Buch, but that would be like "a bit of book", treating "book" as a material.)


    I guess "etwas Buch" might be an ingredient listed in einem Zauberbuch (oder vom Zauberbuch).

    • 2004

    Die Zutaten für ein Hexengebräu holt sich die Hexe meistens aus der Natur: Giftwurzeln und -knollen, Drachenblut, Rabenfedern, Wolfsklauen, usw., alles Zutaten, die einzeln aufgezählt schon Abscheu erregen, wenn sie aber dazu noch gemischt und gekocht werden, sie einem den Magen vollends umdrehen.

    Ich nehme an, dass Buch als Zutat zu wenig abscheulich ist und von Hexen darum nicht verwendet wird. Sollte eine Hexe trotzdem auf die Idee kommen, Teile ihres Hexenbuches zu opfern, dann wäre „etwas Buch“ eine mögliche Ausdrucksform.


    I'm afraid not - etwas ein Buch simply makes no sense at all grammatically.

    • 2004

    You will find the use of "etwas" in one of my comments more or less in the middle of this page.


    I suppose you mean the reply to JusticeAppau.

    • 2004

    Yes, exactly.


    That would be close to “several books”.

    Also, einige, like manche, often means “some” in the sense of “certain, particular” rather than a quantity.

    It would sound odd to me to say Ich habe einige Bücher.

    And while Einige Bücher habe ich is fine grammatically, it would mean something like “I have some of the books (of the series we are talking about)” rather than “I have a small number of books”.


    doesn't " ein paar " mean " a pair or a couple of " ? why is it translated as " a few " here?


    ein paar -> a few

    ein Paar -> a pair or a couple

    Edit: my bad, this is partially wrong


    ein paar -> a few or a couple

    ein Paar -> a pair


    Depending on whether "a couple" means "a few" for you or only "exactly two".


    Difference between etwas and paar?


    Difference between etwas and paar?

    etwas means "something".

    Before an uncountable noun, it can also mean "a little bit of, some", as in etwas Wasser "some water, a bit of water".

    ein paar is "a few, a couple, a small number of" and comes before a countable noun in the plural, as in ein paar Bücher "a few books".


    I wrote "Ich habe ein paar Büche", and it didn't warn me about my spelling. Can books be written as "Büche" instead of "Bücher"?


    Can books be written as "Büche" instead of "Bücher"?

    No. Büche does not exist in German.


    As a native english speaker, a pair and couple are identical . Answering with "i have a pair of books" is grammatically and contextually correct


    True. But though "pair" = "couple" = "two" = "ein Paar" when used as a noun, it is NOT equal to "ein paar"--which is a determiner--when used as an adjective. The capitalization matters. Ein paar is "a few"; Ein Paar is "a pair/couple/two".

    So, think of how "pair" and "couple" are used:

    • "I have a pair of books." <== Pair is a noun, two of something, and "of books" further defines the two things that make the pair..
    • "They are a couple." <== The "couple" is two people.
    • "I've been there a couple times." <== Here "couple" is used as an adjective, and means a small number, two or more. It is a more colloquial, informal usage.

    Auf Deutsch the capitalization rule regarding nouns helps (I capitalize the English nouns below to help illustrate):

    • Ein paar Bücher <== a few Books
    • Ein Paar Bücher <== a Pair of Books
    • Drei Paare brauner Schuhe <== three Pairs of brown Shoes (braun is declined for den Genitiv, and Paar receives the -e suffix to show plurality)
    • Ein paar braune Schuhe <== several brown Shoes (braun is declined for the plural because "ein paar" does not provide the necessary usage information, so we use strong inflection").

    Cf. "ein bisschen"


    Why not ich have paar bücher


    have is English. Habe is german.


    How can I pronounce "Bucher" correctly? I don't even hear how Duo says it? Help please


    you can try http://www.dict.cc/?s=B%C3%BCcherplay_first_audio=DE there are usually a few recorded versions as well as a computer one. (when you click on the little speaker icon) It is much better to try to imitate a correct pronunciation than trying to approximate it with the sounds/phenomes from one's own language. :)


    Ein paar could be translated as "few / a few", both structures with the same purpose and meaning. "I have few tomatoes / I have a few tomatoes". Of course, this idea could wrong when the context suggests emphasis, particularization.... To have "few tomatoes", semantically, might be interpreted such as the lack of possessing, emptiness If the extreme idea is put on the table, etc. But, Here, the program should accept both.


    Please whats the difference between "paar" and "etwas"?

    • 2004

    ein paar: for countable nouns: Ein paar Gläser sind kaputt. (a few/ a couple of / some)

    etwas: for uncountable nouns: Ich habe etwas Brot. Nur etwas Geduld. (a little bit of / some)

    There are nouns where you can use both, but the meaning changes:
    Ich werde etwas Fisch kaufen. = I will buy some (part of a big) fish. (noun in singular)
    Ich werde ein paar Fische kaufen. I will buy a couple of (whole) fish. (noun in plural)


    Why cannot I say "I have several books"?

    • 2004

    "several" is a bigger quantity than "ein paar".


    I think if "some books" and "a few books" are OK, "several" should be accepted too.


    I said some books and it was wrong?? Not sure why.


    Neither are we. If you want to find out why your answer was incorrect, you should always include your ENTIRE answer, and possibly the correction/response from die Eule. Either copy/paste the text or take a screenshot.


    I have a few books...cough like 200 cough


    Ein paar can be perfectly translated as several. Come on Duolingo.


    The maintainers of dict.cc and Wiktionary seem to disagree with you.


    I have a few books. I think that odd question.



    It's not really a question. It's a statement. It means that the speaker has some books. Not just one or two, nor a large number (unless said sarcastically, such as the librarian at the Library of Congress might say if someone came in and asked, "Do you have any books here?").


    Why is it so hard for me to say "bücher"? Lol is there anyone who can tell me how to say it correctly?


    I have a pair of books is just like saying I have a couple of books.


    Not "just like." "A pair" is two. No more, no less.

    "A couple" is normally two, but can also be another small number of things (greater than one), as described here.


    'I have a pair of books' is an acceptable translation of this sentence.


    No, it is not.

    The German sentence uses ein paar Bücher and not ein Paar Bücher.

    The capitalisation is relevant: ein paar means "a couple, a few, several, more than one but not very many", while ein Paar means "a pair, two items that belong together".


    I have a pair of books should also be correct


    No, it is not correct.

    See the other comments on this page for the difference between ein paar and ein Paar.


    The sound for this is a little bit misleading. I was instructed to dictate this sentence, and I had to listen twice before I realized it was saying "ein paar Bücher" because "ein" was emphasized more in the given soundbyte than "paar."
    Emphasis and intonation are huge cues for meaning within a sentence in English and all related languages. You can have a super-thick accent and still be understood perfectly if you have these two things properly in place. I would know this; I teach English to students in Japan and have coached them for English speech contests.


    Why does Bücher have to be a capital letter


    Because it's a noun. All nouns are capitalized in German, and pronouns are not capitalized.


    The pronoun Sie is always capitalised.


    Why can't it be "Ich habe ein manche Bucher"? I thought you could use 'manche' with countable plural objects ('Bucher' in this case).


    I thought you could use 'manche' with countable plural objects ('Bucher' in this case).

    The word is Bücher (books), not Bucher (bookers). (If you can't make the ü, write ue instead: Buecher.)

    But manche Bücher means "some books, certain books".

    For example, Manche Bücher sind rot, andere sind blau. = "Some books are red, others are blue."

    Ich habe manche Bücher would mean something like "There are some books which I have" (implying: and others which I don't have).

    It does not mean "I have a few books", where "a few" means "a small number of" rather than "certain particular". For that, you need ein paar.


    Ok when you touch on the word the transaction shows "a few " and also "a couple of".. .


    Ja. Genau. Those are two ways to transact translate "ein paar" (which is, of course, different from "ein Paar").


    I have one pair of books?


    I have one pair of books?


    Duo's German sentence has ein paar Bücher (a few books) and not ein Paar Bücher (a pair of books = exactly two that belong together).

    Capitalisation is important here.


    Is "a few" is grammatically correct in English?



    Yes, it is.

    "Few" can be/is used with things/nouns one can count. Such as 'They have a few cars, I have a few books.... "A few", with the "a" in front of the "few" means several, but not a huge amount like "many" can. The 'a' and "few" belong/go together.

    If you are talking about things that are not countable/that can not be counted (but are talking about a similar amount as countable things with which one would use would "a few") such as milk or water... you would use "some". As in "I have some milk", "There is some water in the bathtub"

    In English, there are some things that one could technically count such as rice, beans, sugar... but which are usually used with "some"instead of "a few" such as "can you get me some rice". Usually, this applies to things that while technically could be counted, such as rice grains or individual beans, are used or referred to in bulk/more than one at a time.


    Why ist it "ein" and not "eine"? Is it because "ein paar" is like an adverb phrase or something??


    ein Paar is "one pair". Paar is neuter, which is why it's ein.

    Later, the meaning got extended to "several, a few", much like what happened with English "a couple" (a couple of days off might be two or three or four; not necessarily exactly two).

    In this extended meaning, we write ein paar with a lowercase p. But the ein still agrees with Paar.

    • 2004

    It's a fixed expression.


    What is the difference between paar, etwas, and manche


    ein paar = a few, a couple; a small number of

    etwas = something; a small amount of (something uncountable): etwas Wasser "a bit of water"

    manche = some (but not others); certain


    just to be clear: does ein change to match the gender of paar rather than Bücher?


    just to be clear: does ein change to match the gender of paar rather than Bücher?

    That's right.


    Ein paar doesn't mean a pair?


    Ein paar doesn't mean a pair?

    That's right. "a pair" would be ein Paar. Note the capitalisation.

    ein paar with a small p means "a few, a couple, a small number of ..."


    Isn't "I have a pair of books" correct?


    Isn't "I have a pair of books" correct?

    No, it isn't.

    a pair of books = ein Paar Bücher

    But Duo's sentence has ein paar Bücher = a few books / a couple of books (i.e. a small number of books, not exactly two which belong together)


    Does anyone have any good reasoning for 'paar' meaning 'pair' vs 'few'? How would you say something like i have a pair of books, would it be the same?


    In written German, a pair would translate to 'ein Paar' with p being capitalized. While few would translate to 'ein paar' without the capitalization. IN SPOKEN German, which is the more confusing part, you'll just have to watch for context. Like if the object described is usually found in pairs like 'socks' then they are probably referring to a pair of socks(ein Paar Socken) and not a few socks. And IF they were referring to a few socks they'd probably use other adjectives to mean few like 'enige'.

    Actually this makes more sense https://yourdailygerman.com/meaning-paar/


    The word stress would likely also change.

    I bought a few socks = ich háb ein paar Sócken gekáuft

    I bought one pair of socks = ich háb éín Paar Sócken gekáuft.

    i.e. I would stress the ein of ein Paar but not of ein paar, where both words would be unstressed.

    Or it might be ein Páár.


    Alright maybe this is because my English isnt quite good, but why cant i write " i have few books" instead of "i have a few books"


    "I have few books" focuses on the scarcity. It means you have a minimal or limited amount.

    "I have a few books" focuses on the quantity. That you have several books, more than one or two, probably even more than three or four; however, you don't have many books (another indeterminate quantity).


    @ nikkiseawuvspie

    In English " I have few books" does not mean exactly the same thing as "I have a few books"

    "I have few books" means that one does not have many books but only a small number of them.

    "I have a few books" is somewhat different. The "a few" works as an expression. The "a" and the "few" work/belong together. It conveys that one has some books. It has a somewhat more positive meaning in that it means that even though the person does not have many books they do at least have "a few". Which is the equivalent to "Ich habe ein paar Bücher."

    "I have few books" would be more " Ich habe wenige Bücher." in German.

    https://www.dict.cc/?s=few this page from dict.cc has translations for both "few" and "a few"


    I translated 'paar' in Google translate, but I only got "pair" as the answer, Warum?


    Ignore Google Translate.


    @ Zlurmz

    Google translate can give some odd translations, usually with longer sentences or paragraphs. Just a word or few tends to be much better.

    However, if you just typed in "paar" instead of "ein paar" the "pair" translation would be correct. "ein paar" and "Paar" are not the same.

    When I tried Google Tranlsate for "ein paar" it correctly translated it as "a few" . When only "paar"is typed in it does translate it as "pair" which is correct. So does en.pons.com and dict.cc (they are both really good dictionaries and many/most of the entries even have audio.

    Leaving out the "ein" really makes a difference. Sometime just switching a letter around changes it to a different word instead of making it a typo. As in "Lieder" and "leider" in German, or "lion" and "loin" in English.





    Is there any other phrases meaning paar


    I am still a little bit confuse with the difference between "ein paar" and "manche"

    "Ich habe manche Bücher" is this sentence right? and does it have the same meaning with "Ich habe ein paar Bücher"?


    "Ich habe manche Bücher" is this sentence right?

    It is grammatically correct and means "I have certain books" -- i.e. there are some books that you have and some that you don't.

    does it have the same meaning with "Ich habe ein paar Bücher"?



    Can someone tell me the difference between paar and manche since they both mean "a few"


    Can someone tell me the difference between paar and manche since they both mean "a few"

    It's not paar in Standard German -- it's ein paar. The two belong together. This means "a few, a couple".

    manche, on the other hand, means "some" as in "certain", e.g. manche Menschen mögen Musik und andere nicht "some people (= certain people) like music and others do not".


    Why not eine paar when the next noun is feminine?


    das Paar is a noun meaning "the pair" (i.e. two matched objects). It's neuter.

    Thus "a pair" is ein Paar.

    In the metaphorical use "a few, a couple, a small number of", we write paar in lower case, but we still use the neuter ein with it, to match the original Paar.

    The gender of the word after that is irrelevant. Much like how we write eine Flasche Wein (a bottle of wine) -- eine agrees with feminine Flasche, not with masculine Wein.


    Why "I have a couple of books" wrong?


    "I have a couple of books" is a correct translation.

    Do you have a screenshot of that answer being rejected in a translation exercise?


    Why "a pair of books" wrong?


    Why "a pair of books" wrong?

    The German sentence you were asked to translate had ein paar Bücher (a few books) and not ein Paar Bücher (a pair of books).

    The capitalisation is significant.


    Why "ein" and not "eine", with "Bücher" being plural and so treated as feminine? Is it to do with the "paar"?


    Plural is not treated as feminine. (Quick: what is the proper indefinite article for feminine Dativ? Now, how does that compare to the one for plural Dativ?)

    "Ein paar" is a fixed phrase meaning "some". The declension of ein probably derives from Paar being neuter. See these usage notes.


    I said "I have a lot of books." What's wrong?


    I said "I have a lot of books." What's wrong?

    "a lot of books" is a large number of books.

    "a few books" is a small number of books.


    Why is 'I have a pair of books' wrong for an answer here?


    @ yaswanth001

    Because "ein paar" and "ein Paar" are not the same word. "Ein paar"" with a lower case "p" = a few, some, ... meaning a small number of something.

    The things need to be countable. If it were a small amount of something uncountable you could use "ein bisschen". It is the same as the difference between "a few flowers' which you can count, and 'some water/salt/sugar..." since water is an uncountable noun you could not say "can I have a few water" but "can I have some water"=" kann Ich ein bisschen Wasser haben" (this refers to the amount of water not individual glasses of water which you could count)

    "Ein Paar" with a capital"P" = "a couple" as in 2 of something, "a pair of". If you have "ein Paar Schuhe" you have a "pair of shoes" as in having 2 shoes/a pair of shoes. If you have "ein paar Schuhe" you have a few shoes. It could be 3, 4, or whatever rather small number.

    In German capitalization of a word can really make a difference. So It's pretty important to try learning it from the beginning.

    So: ein paar = a few (of something countable) - ein Paar = a pair (of something)


    The below is from the German StackExchange:

    https://german.stackexchange.com/questions/46632/ein-paar-or-einem-paar-in-dative :

    *"Ich werde mit ein paar Kindern wohnen. I will live with some children.

    Ich werde mit einem Paar Kindern wohnen. I will live with a pair of children.

    Why is this?

    paar (lower case, an indefinite pronoun i.e not a noun) ein paar = some (a small countable amount) Paar (uppercase first letter, a noun) ein Paar = a couple (a pair of two things that belong together)"*


    Is there a difference between 'ein Bisschen' and 'etwas'?


    @ yaswanth001

    Yes. *"Bisschen" always refers to a small amount of something (non-countable).

    "Etwas" also means/can mean a smallish amount of something uncountable like water, air,... But it can also function as a pronoun. As in "ich sehe etwas" = I see something" (it can be used in a lot of ways -the dict.cc link for "etwas" below lists many of them.)

    You could not say "ich sehe bisschen" (You could possibly say "ich sehe ein bisschen" meaning " I see a litle (bit)" But it (the bisschen) would not mean "something" and you would definitely need the "ein" before it since "bisschen is modifying the 'ein*".

    Dict.cc is a really good online dictionary to look up things. So is Pons and Duden.

    It also always helps to look things up from each/both of the languages.

    I would not worry too much about memorizing every single meaning of every word in the beginning since so many words can have slightly, or even drastically, different meanings depending on the context.
    Especially in the beginning, it tends to be less confusing to mostly stick to the definitions/translations provided at whatever lesson/level one is in. (In whatever app or even actual live lessons one uses.) Otherwise trying to memorize a dictionary can drive one crazy. Or at least it could drive me crazy.





    Thank you for the explanation and suggestions!


    Paar is also "a few"? Not strictly "a couple" I guess...


    Paar is also "a few"?

    No. ein Paar is a pair -- two that belong together.

    But ein paar is "a couple, a few" -- a small number.

    The capitalisation makes the difference.

    (As for "a couple" no longer only meaning "exactly two" in English -- check your favourite dictionary, e.g. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/learner-english/couple_1 "two or a few" or https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/couple_1?q=couple meaning 2 "a small number of people or things".)


    Why can't you say "a couple of" books


    Why not eine paare bucher?


    Did you see mizinamo's response to S4d10?


    I have a pair of books should be accepted too, since a couple is.


    I have a pair of books should be accepted too

    No. "a pair" means two things that belong together, and would be ein Paar in German (note capital P).

    ein paar with lowercase p is "a few, a couple" (i.e. a small number: more than one but not necessarily exactly two)

    The meaning of "couple" is wider than that of "pair", so you cannot always replace "couple" with "pair".


    Where is couple of?


    @ Debapratim11

    In English, at least in USA English, "a couple" can be used as an expression for "a few".


    So when to use paar and when to use manche?


    ein paar (note: two words) means "some, a few, a couple (of), ..."

    manche means "certain, some (but not others)".


    How can a stand before few(many, more)?


    How can a stand before few

    "a few" and "few" mean different things in English -- "a few" merely refers to a small number of things and means more or less the same thing as "some", while "few" focusses on the fact that they are "not many".

    https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/learner-english/few?q=a+few (see "a few")

    https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/few_1?q=a+few (meaning 1)

    In fact, both of those dictionaries indicate that "a few" is something that learners will learn before they learn "few", so I'm surprised you haven't come across it yet.


    Paar sounds like haar


    And like bar, car, far, gar, mar, par, & tar. They all rhyme.

    Oddly, they do not sound like "war", and there's disagreement regarding "var", which some people pronounce to rhyme with Haar and others to rhyme with "hair". (When I read "var", I hear "vare-iable"; but when I say it, I often pronounce it as "vahr". So there's that.)


    What is the difference between paar etwas and manche


    How do you pronounce "Bücher"?


    @ Birds_eat_grass

    Just click on the speaker symbol on top of this page. It"s to the left of the sentence. And the whole sentence will be spoken. All you need to do then is listen.

    You can also use an online dictionary like dict.cc . It has audio for most entries. Again, just click the little speaker icon. https://www.dict.cc/?s=Bücher . You can also do a search for some of the other online dictionaries. Most of which have audio. All you need to do is enter the word.

    You can even just go on google translate. Type in your word or sentence, and again, click on the speaker icon and it will give you audio. https://translate.google.com/#view=home&op=translate&sl=auto&tl=en&text=Bücher


    Would it be okay to say manche or etwas instead of ein paar here?


    Would it be okay to say manche or etwas instead of ein paar here?


    Ich habe manche Bücher. means "I have some books" in the sense "There are some books that I have [and other books that I don't have]."

    Ich habe etwas Bücher. is as nonsensical as "I have a little bit of books."


    This translates to "I have a few books", but what would the translation be for "I have a pair of books"


    what would the translation be for "I have a pair of books"

    As in, I have two books which belong together? That would be Ich habe ein Paar Bücher.

    Note the difference in capitalisation between ein paar and ein Paar.


    How come 'a' is required in answer when next word is 'few'?


    How come 'a' is required in answer when next word is 'few'?

    "a few" means something different in English than "few".

    Here, you need "a few" to translate the meaning of German ein paar.


    Why isn't pair acceptable? I have a pair of books


    AFTER you look through the many already-existing comments which address your exact question, please explain what it is you are still confused about.


    after ein paar is the Verb always at plural form ?


    after ein paar is the Verb always at plural form ?



    Can "ein Paar" also be translated as "a pair of"??


    Can "ein Paar" also be translated as "a pair of"?

    ein Paar is "a pair of".

    But this sentence has ein paar in it and not ein Paar.

    The capitalisation is significant.


    Can be "pair" used as a translation of "paar"?

    I'm not a native English speaker and for me pair and few look like synonymous


    @ tsenzuk

    No, not really. Using "pair", by itself would not work in this sentence because without an "a" in front of it, as in "a pair", "pair" would be a verb *"to pair". (usually/often)

    When used with an "a" in front of it, as in "a pair" it is used to indicate "two" of something that go/belong together, not "a few".

    Such as "I have a pair of socks" or "He has ten pairs of shoes". (If there is an "a" in from of the "pair" it indicates that there is "one" pair.) If there is "two, three, a hundred..." or whatever other number together/in front with "pair" it indicates the number of pairs. But the "pair" still means that there are two of something that belong/go together. So "two pair(s) of shoes" means four shoes in total, but that they come in two pairs. Such as a pair of summer shoes and one pair of boots. Which is four shoes altogether but only two pairs.

    So someone can have "a few socks" or a few shoes" or whatever. But they may not necessarily be in pairs. For example, you could have three different shoes (" a few " shoes) that do not go together such as having one sandal, one high heeled shoe, and one boot, in total. Which would be "a few" but that would not make any of the shoes be "a pair".

    You could also have "two pair of shoes" which would be four shoes altogether, which would also be "a few shoes" since it would not be very many. But they would be only "two pair of shoes".

    So basically, "a pair"/"ein Paar" is two of something that belong together. And you can have multiple pairs, "three pairs of shoes"= drei Paar Schuhe". You can also have "a few shoes"= "ein paar Schuhe" which could be any amount not considered many but they would not necessarily have to be several pairs. It could be odd numbers such as three shoes, or two pairs, or something like that.

    Also, if the German sentenence indicated "a pair" in English it would be "ein Paar" in German, with the "Paar" being capitalized. Because "ein Paar"= "a/one pair", and "ein paar" (not capitalized) = "a few".

    "ein Paar = a pair"

    "drei Paar = three pairs" (six of something in total but they come in twos/pairs that belong together)

    "ein paar = "a few" a small number of something. Such as "a few apples", "a few books", or even "a few pair of/a few pairs" of something.

    *Ein paar Schuhe/Bücher /Äpfel...= A few shoes/books/apples...

    Ein Paar Schuhe = A pair of shoes

    Hope I did not make it even more confusing.






    Can be "pair" used as a translation of "paar"?


    pair and few look like synonymous

    They are not.

    A "pair" is two objects that belong together.

    "a few" is a fairly small number of objects (more than one, but not many).

    "few" (without "a") is a small number of objects, especially a number that is small than what you might have expected.

    All three mean different things.


    "paar" reminds me of "pair", so it looks like "a pair of books"


    Remember that nouns in German are capitalised.

    "pair" in German is Paar, so ein Paar Bücher would mean "a pair of books" (= two that belong together).

    In the extended sense "a few, a couple, a small number", it's spelled in lowercase ein paar, as it's not felt to be a noun in this usage but more like a numeral.


    Why do we need the "ein" in this sentence if the quantity is bigger than one?


    Why do we need the "ein" in this sentence if the quantity is bigger than one?

    ein paar is a fixed expression.

    Kind of like how in English "a few books" and "a lot of potatoes" have the singular "a" even though there are many books and many potatoes.


    So uh, what's the difference between "I have a few" and "I have some" aside from Duolingo not accepting the latter? I thought I spoke English and was trying to learn German, but apparently I'm bad at both


    Both "I have a few books" and "I have some books" are accepted in a translation exercise for this sentence.

    Do you have a screenshot showing one of those being rejected as a translation? If so, please share it with us -- upload it to a website somewhere such as imgur and post the URL of the image here. Thank you!


    does anyone know the fastest way to learn german? i want to be fluent in three weeks. help?


    First step in any endeavor is to set realistic goals and expectations.

    The US Foreign Service Institute (FSI), considers German to be in the lowest level of (difficulty for speakers of English)[http://blog.thelinguist.com/how-long-should-it-take-to-learn-a-language]. (Along with French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swahili). FSI research indicates that reaching "Level 2", a limited working proficiency (which should enable one to satisfy routine social demands and limited work requirements), takes about 480 hours. If you are able to put in 10 hours each day studying German, you should be able to achieve that limited working proficiency in 48 days (7 weeks).

    But, maybe you are especially gifted in learning new languages. Let us know how it works out for you.


    woa, okay! hmm, guess i didnt give that idea much thought. ill see what i can do


    A couple of = a few???????


    A couple of = a few?



    Why it is wrong if I say "I have a few of books"? How does "of" make a difference?



    Because, "I have a few of books." is unfortunately simply wrong, as in being incorrect English.

    In English, one can say "I have few books", with no "of" meaning that the person does not have many books but only some/a few.

    It is also possible to say "I have a few books", meaning that even though the person does not have many books they do have some/a few. Again, no "of" in the sentence. This sentence emphasizes that the person does have some (even though not many). -----In the"I have few books" the emphasis is more on the scarcity/low number of books. Even though the sentences are basically saying the same thing the meaning/emphasis is slightly different. (But neither sentence can use "of".)

    One can also say "I have a few of the books." This does use "of" but it also needs "the" in front of "books". It means that the person has some/a few of the books that may be required, wanted, or that they are talking about... As in someone needing numerous specific books for school but they have only some of them/"some of the books'.


    you translate paar = couple in answer paar = a few in the dictionary corect translate couple or no A FEW


    Why is "I have a pair of books" wrong?


    This has been discussed quite a bit already. Is there something in particular about the explanations already here that is confusing?


    "ein paar" means "a couple of". "a few" would be "manche". So the translation of the sentence is "I have a couple of books" and not "I have a few books". "I have a few books" would be "Ich habe manche Bücher"


    "a few" would be "manche".

    That is not correct.

    manche Bücher means "some books" in the sense of "certain books" (i.e. some but not others).


    it sure is interesting why Duo keeps on translating 'ein paar' into a few and not into a couple of when he usually picks the translation which is literally closer if there are good and close alternatives. I guess the reason this time, though, maybe to differentiate between the 'paar' with a versal and the Paar with a capital p...even if they can mean the same. The latter just emphasizes that it is typically German-ish-important that it really is about 2 people/things/animals and not e.g 2-4. The word paar is BTW very untypisch Deutsch since it is so ambig ;-)

    Just ask a 'market person' (Marktverkäufer/in) in a German speaking country for ein Paar Äpfel and be prepared to get a question in return on how many you would like ;-)

    just mina deux Pfennige...


    I have few books sounds more accurated


    I have few books sounds more accurated

    "I have few books" and "I have a few books" do not mean the same thing in English.


    Why was it translated word for word? Is this correct? Could it work without ein, just paar? Thanks


    Could it work without ein, just paar?



    "I have few books" is also correct in English, no?


    "I have few books" is also correct in English, no?

    It's a grammatically correct sentence but it means something different from "I have a few books".

    • I have a few books. Ich habe ein paar Bücher.
    • I have few books. Ich habe wenige Bücher.


    "I have a pair of books" Why doesnt it work?


    Read the rest of the thread. Multiple people have already answered your question.


    Yeah, I got it. My app was being weird and didn't show any comments and thats why I asked.


    My app was being weird and didn't show any comments and thats why I asked.

    Please don't use that app any more, then.

    Adding repeated questions just creates clutter. If you can't see previous comments, then the app is not useful for adding to discussions.

    I recommend using the website https://www.duolingo.com/ .


    Thanks for the recommendation. However, I did use the Duolingo official app. It has never failed me before. This is the first time anything like this has happened. I understand my mistake, but it was more of a Duolingo problem than a me problem. I mean, this is the first question I have ever asked. I will report the issue to Duolingo, though.


    Does this mean "a couple" of books, literally?


    Does this mean "a couple" of books, literally?

    das Paar is a noun meaning "pair" (i.e. exactly two things that belong together, as in a pair of shoes).

    So ein Paar means "a pair".

    This got generalised to mean "a few, a small number of (something)", and in that usage is spelled ein paar with lowercase p.

    So Ich habe ein Paar Schuhe gekauft (I bought a pair of shoes = two that fit togther) versus Ich habe ein paar Schuhe gekauft (I bought a couple of / a few / some shoes = more than one shoe but not very many).


    A few, do you say so in English


    I wrote "quite a few" and was wrong :(


    I disagree with those saying that "a couple" can mean the same as "a few" in English. A couple means Two. It is not the same thing at all.


    Although the primary meaning of a "couple" is "two", I was surprised to find in the Wiktionary that it is often used as a "few".

    • 2004

    ein Paar (noun) = a couple (2 related people) = a pair (2 matching objects)
    ein paar = einige = a few = a couple of = some

    The capitalized letter makes the difference.


    "Ein paar" was easy to remember for me because it is similar to "ein peu" in French


    Why I have a pair of books is wrong? I am not native English speaker. What about I have a couple of books?


    @ Franz998772

    Because "a pair" as in 2 of something that go together, like shoes, is "ein Paar".

    A few/some of something would be "ein paar". In German capitalization can really matter. In this case, it changes the meaning of the word.


    "ein Paar" = "a pair"/2 of something that goes together. Like a pair of shoes.

    "ein paar" = a few/ a couple..

    And yes, in English, at least US English " a couple" of something can mean "some/a few". To be able to use "a couple" as " a few" the things have to be countable though, such as books, pens, cups... With uncountable nouns/things you can not count like water, flour, air.... you can not use "a couple" nor " a few" to mean "some". For uncountable things/nouns, you would need to use "some", a bit"....

    dict.cc is a really good online german dictionary. It has audio/pronunciation for most words and it also translates into many more languages than just English. I really like it.


    Why isn't "I have a pair of books" correct?


    Why didn't you read the other comments on this page before asking that question yet again?


    Why is "a pair" of books wrong?


    Why is "a pair" of books wrong?

    Please read all of the comments to check whether your question has already been answered. This point has been addressed multiple times already.


    "i have a few books" is not the correct translation into English. it should be "i have few books" or "i have a few book"

    cause you can not make the verb plural with "books" and singular with "a" at the same time. it is wrong.


    Actually *"i have few books" has a different meaning and would be translated as ich habe wenige Bücher. wenige = few http://www.dict.cc/?s=few

    And using "a few" is correct also. It is used with "plural count nouns" http://www.engvid.com/quantity-english-a-few-a-little/


    "Book" is not a "plural count noun", however, so "I have a few book" is incorrect. "I have a few books" is fine.


    What is wrong with, "I have a pair of books."?


    Please do not post the same question multiple times -- especially if that question has been asked and answered before on this page.


    how could be 'a' with 'books'


    @ GrigoriyVaPLUS

    If you are referring to things like "a couple, a few..." the "a" goes/belongs with the "couple" and "few". It's just the way those expressions are used/work in English (USA).

    Unfortunately, expressions and idioms, and how certain words are used, in any language, just have to be learned. Even though it sometimes may not make much, or any sense. Especially if one's first language uses a different construction/different expressions.


    Your translation is grammatically wrong In English. Please refer Grammar by Wren and Marten. "A Few' means nothing or nil. The right translation should be I have few books.


    "A few" does not mean nothing or nil. No way, no how. And if Grammar by Wren and Marten says it does, then that book would be better used as a source of heat than a reference for language.


    It is a well-regarded textbook of grammar and you are not a better judge of Grammar than it.

    Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.