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  5. "Die Frau und das Mädchen ess…

"Die Frau und das Mädchen essen Äpfel."

Translation:The woman and the girl are eating apples.

May 7, 2016

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How can you tell if Mädchen is plural or singular fof girl??


You can tell from the article. Mädchen is neuter from a grammar point of view, so it takes das (or one of its conjugated forms) in singular. In plural it is of course die, der, den, die as for all plural nouns.

This is not only true for Mädchen but indeed every word that ends in -chen. This is one of the two diminuitive suffixes in German (i.e. it adds a meaning of "small", comparable to Spanish "-ito/ita") and words which end on it are always neuter, no matter their original gender: "der Hund – das Hündchen". Mädchen has been used as the normal word for "girl" for quite some time, so we don't think of it in terms of its origin "Magd (maid) + chen" anymore, but that is the reason why girls are grammatically neuter in German.

Hope that helps.


That's really interesting. So it's pretty much just 'little maid'.


As far as its etymology is concerned, yes :) Just like “girl” used to refer to children in general but later its meaning narrowed to just female children.


das Mädchen, ein Mädchen - singular; die Mädchen - plural. or: klein Mädchen - little girl, kleinE Mädchen - little girls. the word before usually tells you if it's singular or plural.


*klein Mädchen is wrong though ;) Singular nouns cannot stand without a determiner (an article, a possessive, a demonstrative or similar). So it has to be either ein kleinES Mädchen or das kleinE Mädchen.


How do i know which form of noun apple is here? Äpfel is both singular and plural. So why can't it be the woman and the girl are eating apple?


Äpfel is plural; the singular is Apfel without the Umlaut. Also in German – like in English – only plural nouns can appear without an article (or something similar like a number or a demonstrative like “this”). So if we replaced the plural Äpfel with singular Apfel (“Die Frau und das Mädchen essen Apfel.”) that would be just as ungrammatical as English “the woman and the girl are eating apple”. You have to add an article: einen Apfelan apple”.


Why is "The woman and the girl eats apples" wrong?


Because the English “-s” suffix is only used for singular third person subjects. “the woman and the girl” are more than one person, so you have to use the plural form which doesn’t have the suffix.


I did "eats apples". Now I understand why it's wrong.


I thought my answer was correct but it .marked it as incorrect. I don't why?


Unfortunately it does not show your answer in the sentence discussion. Please provide your answer together with your question next time (ideally using copy and paste; that way we can see exactly what your answer was and there is no danger of adding additional problems during the typing).


Its a bit strange about this translation. 'Die Frau und das Madchen essen Apfel' You can't quite tell if Mafchen translates to singular or plural. The verb might confuse you to translate to plural, like 'The woman and the girls are eating apples' Any tricks how to get these right?


You’re right, the noun Mädchen doesn’t tell you whether it’s one or multiple girls – but the article does. das Mädchen = the girl (singular) vs. die Mädchen = the girls (plural). (Note that the forms of the articles change depending on the grammatical case of course, but for neuter nouns like Mädchen the two forms are different in every case).

Also be careful with the umlauts on Apfel. Apfel without umlaut is singular; Äpfel with umlaut is plural. The missing umlaut made me think at first glance that you were talking about one apple and forgot the article. So do pay attention to them, they are not optional. If your keyboard doesn’t let you type umlauts, you can substitute the corresponding base vowel + e: ä = ae, ö = oe, ü = ue (this is actually the origin of the dots: people used to write the e above the letter to save space, and in the old blackletter script, that e looked like two short vertical strokes which later became dots).

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