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  5. "Der Käse ist gut, obwohl er …

"Der Käse ist gut, obwohl er alt ist."

Translation:The cheese is good although it is old.

December 13, 2013

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Why, in this sentence referring to cheese, is it "obwohl er alt ist" and not "obwohl es alt ist"?


"Er" is used in the second part because "Käse" is masculine. "Es" would be for a neuter noun, z.B "Das Pferd ist schnell, obwohl es alt ist."


And is "sie" used for feminine nouns?


Yes, "Die Katze ist schnell, obwohl sie alt ist."


Could you use "er" if the cat is male?


German doesn't work that way.


Yes you can, but than you should say: Der Kater ist schnell obwohl er alt ist


I think, if you want to personify it. It would be similar to "George, my dog, is smart. He is also fast" and "George, my dog, is smart. It is also fast". Can anyone verify this?


Is there a word in German for a male cat? I know that professions have male and female versions, but are there fe/male words for animals in german?


Yes the word is Kater and refers to a tomcat (Der Kater).


Why not "es ist alt"?


When you use a subordinating conjunction (AKA a verb scarer) like 'weil' (because) or 'obwohl' (although), the verb in that clause is moved to the end of the clause. Because of this, you can't write '..., obwohl es IST alt' and instead you have to write '..., obwohl es alt IST'. I hope that helped and didn't confuse you!


Verb scarer, i'll remember that forever.


Do you know of a list of "verb scarers" that you can link? That would be useful!


Here's a list from the BBC Bitesize website, although I'm not sure if it's complete list; there are bound to be some that are more rare and don't feature on a list. Enjoy! http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/german/grammar/conjunctionsrev2.shtml


I think they were asking why not use "es" instead of "er".


In any case, that was already answered in the first comment's reply.


The top explanation is not a full one. If you've gotten this point in the Duolingo Journey, you may remember (though I can't remember between my college class and this sometimes) that ihn, es, and sie could also be possibilities, in addition to, "er", "es", and, "sie". First, ask yourself, "Is this "it" a direct object or is it the subject. The verb "ist" is more like an equalizing verb saying that one thing equals or possesses a certain quality or state of being. So in this case, "er" is not the direct object, but is still talking about the subject. So we go with "er" instead of "ihn."


Sorry i don't get it. So the er doesn't refer to he so much as any masculine noun?


Basically, yes. If the noun has already been mentioned and is referred to thereafter as 'it', then use the matching gender (er/sie/es) for "it".


The best cheeses are always the oldest ;)


yeah, the sentence should be "The cheese is good BECAUSE it is old"


Why is it "obwohl er alt ist" instead of "obwohl er ist alt/obwohl alt ist er"? Would the alternative options I've wrote work? Because I thought that in German the verb has to be in the second place... Thanks for helping!


You're right that verbs usually go in the second position of a sentence, but that rule doesn't apply all the time. In this sentence, the verb goes to the end of the clause ("obwohl er alt ist") because "obwohl" is a subordinating conjunction. This page explains subordinating conjunctions in more detail: http://goo.gl/v1Rq1T I hope this helps!


If speaking and I use es(it) instead of er, will I still be understood, but it will just sound a bit "off"?


You will be asked, what is old. If you have already, in the same sentence, identified the gender of a word, it will be expected that you stay true to this gender. You could say:

Der Käse ist gut, obwohl es alt ist. Das Käsestück, meine ich.

I hope I could be of help.


But why can't it be "the cheese is good although 'he' is old"? Does it work grammatically? And I think it make sense too.


Good question... I thought about this a bit and came up with the following series of examples to illustrate my answer:

"I have a machine that previously made cheese. The cheese is good, although it is old."

In that example, we are left uncertain: Although what is old? The machine or the cheese? Grammatically, without further clarification, I think it should be "the cheese", because "it" refers to the previously-mentioned noun. But it's open to ambiguity and should be reworded.

"The farmer makes cheese. The cheese is good, although he is old."

Here, there is no ambiguity. In English, "he" can only refer to the farmer. But what if we remove that context?

"The cheese is good, although he is old."

Although who is old? This just doesn't make sense, out of context.

"The cheese is good, although it is old."

Without anything else to distract us, the meaning is clear - we must be talking about the cheese being old.

It is the last example that best fits the German sentence - although it might sound strange to us English-speakers to use er to refer to der Käse, this is perfectly natural to a German. They would read this German sentence and have the same feeling that we have when reading that last sentence. It would feel weird to a German to read ...obwohl es alt ist, just like it feels weird for us to read the third example.

And so, without any further context, the meaning must be referring to the cheese being old. And so, if we are to translate that meaning accurately to English, we must translate it as "although it is old".


Hi, guys I didn't get why is it \er alt ist instead of \es alt ist. as i know es uses for all kind of things not for masculine or feminine. er ans sind can be used for creatures. if someone know why here they have used er, i am waiting for answer.


If a noun has already been mentioned, and you want to say "it" to refer to that noun, you should use the gendered pronoun that matches.


Why is "This cheese, although old, is good." wrong? It means the exact same thing, and is grammatically right!


Because you have rearranged the words in the sentence. You can't expect the owl to know every combination of words. Best stick to the sequence given.


Ok I understand when using these conjunctions the verb goes at the end... What happens if you are negating the verb, where would "nicht" for example go?


I just switched around the sentence, I said although the cheese is old it is good...would that still be understood the same way?


In german, yes. The two could be interchangeable, like in english. But on here, no, because that wasn't the word order it asked for. Just remember that, when you use it in german, the use of the subordinating conjunction (AKA 'verb scarer') 'obwohl' changes the word order in the second clause of the sentence. Instead of 'Der Käse ist gut, obwohl er alt ist' you have 'Obwohl er alt ist, ist der Käse gut'. I hope that's helpful and makes sense :)


Can it be rephrased like this: "Obwohl er alt ist, ist der Käse gut." ? I am trying to make some sense of this word order and I need to be sure.


I don't see a question in that wording. It looks good, see above.


I think the english word "albeit" could be used as a translation of the german word "obwohl". any thoughts?


I disagree that it can be translated word-for-word, because "albeit" would replace "obwohl er ist" rather than just "obwohl". I don't know if there's a single word that better translates as "albeit".


So if the conjuction is in the depending clause, the verb comes first in the indy clause, but if the conjunction is in the independent clause, the verb goes to the end in that clause?


In the independent clause (Der Käse ist gut) the verb is in the second position as usual.

In the dependent clause (obwohl er alt ist) the verb is at the end.

Does that answer your question? There are also some good explanations at the top of this discussion page. If not, can you give another example of what you're asking about?


God, why are you writing "er", if you want answer "it"????


German works that way - if you know the gender of what you're talking about, er/sie/es can all mean "it". This happens in many languages, and is kind of why some people learning English seem to cutely apply genders to inanimate objects when talking about them.

If I say "It is green" I would say Es ist grün, because it isn't established what I'm talking about. But if I say "That is my door. It is green" I would say Das ist meine Tür. Sie ist grün because it's now established that we're talking about the door, which has a female grammatical gender.

While it might be tempting to just say es for everything, consider how someone would sound speaking English and using "it" to refer to your pets, relatives, etc.

Also, this was literally the first question on the discussion page... you will go further in Duolingo if your first instinct upon getting frustrated with something is to read the comments :)

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