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  5. "Mir fehlt ein Bein!"

"Mir fehlt ein Bein!"

Translation:I am missing a leg!

January 25, 2013

138 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/beaker606

Ok. I am trying to understand why mir is used. Is it because the object that is missing the leg is me? (Bind=direct object=accusitave, Mir=indirect object=dative)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DarcX

Constructions like this can't be literally translated into English and make sense. "The leg is missing to me" makes no sense but it does in German. You just have to learn it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bencloete

So "fehlt" always triggers the dative?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LudmorHun

Just because it does not make sense in English, translating it like that can help to understand the logic of the language. At least for me it works better than "just learn it" :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nick40vmi

It would be better to say "My leg is missing." or literally "Of me that is missing is a leg."

Missing in terms of something that is no longer in possession of the owner or it is not in the location where it should be, "fehlen" is used.

Missing in terms of longing for or the emotional void left by something or (likely) someone, "vermissen" is used.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

Missing has that same construction in French. It seems strange to English speakers but at least two major European languages use it. I wonder if other Euros have the same view.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Colter45

Whenever I would find cognates like this between French and German, my French professor - who is French - would usually say that it was because of France and Germany's close proximity.

Vernacular seems to have a way of jumping across languages, so long as they're close together.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/not_a_thing

Spanish as well.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/supu1

Italian as well


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hechap

So, in English, if one was assembling a doll, one might say "I am missing a leg." and mean that one of the doll's legs wasn't included in the kit. So could you dispense with the dative when using "fehlen" and just say "Ein Bein fehlt!" instead?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

in this context: yes


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sbmassey

You could think of it as something like "as for me, a leg is missing", which makes grammatical sense even if no English speaker would put it like that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cgottsch

Yes they can, and it does make sense, at least in the context of language discussion, even tho its awkward sounding and never used by English speakers. Linguists study this stuff as a livelihood. It may be easier to "just learn it/just memorize it" for many but other people may want to gain an intuitive grasp of the language through explanation. I know my Japanese language learning really took off when I stopped learning in school and started truly translating and breaking down sentences that were "untranslatable". Theres so much we refuse to translate simply because of cultural differences/preferences but it leads to a loss of information that although you can do without, in my opinion, is enriching to keep in.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wayne____

In English, you could say "A leg is missing from me." You wouldn't, but you could. You could say "I am missing" or "my fish is missing." German is using that sense of missing. When you say "I am missing a leg," the "I am missing" shifts in meaning in English, and the sentence suddenly means that the leg, and not you, is missing. Specifically, it's missing from you.

German is merely being more consistent.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/H.ello

Does this "mistake" happen often in Germany?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mad_Max2024

Now... where did my leg go?!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MrMattyMatt

Who comes up with this stuff?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fleeny

as spoken by the spider who crept out of a jam jar after a rescue attempt ....


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/idkhbtfm

Right before you go on a car trip... Swimsuits? Check Suitcases? Check Legs? No, I need to go and find mine


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rccbd

You all crack me up! Laughing out loud!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gildesh

How could you say "I am not feeling my leg"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bf2010
  • 2178

"Ich spüre mein Bein nicht";


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheNewDawn.

WHY ISN'T IT "ICH FEHLE EINEM BEIN"???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Colter45

Because fehlen is a dative verb.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheNewDawn.

but there is "einem"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Colter45

Einem is for dative objects; dative verbs are different. I think there's a lesson on it later, but sufficed to say- some verbs are always used with a dative pronoun, you just kind of have to memorize which ones do and don't.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OgnjenG.

It is ein Bein because this is direct object, it is leg that is being missing. On the other hand we use mir instead of Ich beacuse it is fixed phrase in German. You can see it as:

It is leg that is missing to me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

You could say Ein Bein fehlt mir, but that feels most natural to me as the answer to "What are you missing? What is it that you are missing?"

The neutral sentence is Mir fehlt ein Bein, I would say -- even though ein Bein is the grammatical subject.

For example, if someone asks "What's the problem?", I'd say Mir fehlt ein Bein rather than Ein Bein fehlt mir.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OgnjenG.

that seems reasonable, thank you :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

No, ein Bein is not a direct object -- is a subject.

For example, if you were missing a finger, you would say Mir fehlt ein Finger and not Mir fehlt *einen Finger.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OgnjenG.

hm, I thought it was object, but apparently I was wrong. I was confused because of fehlt and not fehle, and word order. Could you say it other way around? Ein Bein fehlt mir?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

This discussion ios too nested, so that I can't directly reply to OgnjenG. Yes, technically you could say "Ein Bein fehlt mir", but you would rarely hear that (even less frequently than the original sentence). German is rather free with word order and you usually put important things first. You would only use your sentence if it is already clear that you are lacking some limb, but your partner incorrectly assumed it is an arm that is missing, so you try to correct him.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

That would mean "a leg is missing me".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fourtowner

I hope I never lose a leg in Germany as due to the shock I think I'd be unable to conjugate this sentence


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/blotzo
  • 1921

I would have thought "ein Bein fehlt mir". Would that be OK?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

in principle it is ok, but you wouldn't normally use this word order. Perhaps only in poems, or after having been asked "Dir fehlt ein Arm?" and then answering "nein, EIN BEIN fehlt mir."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/russiangoat

Do you really need an exclamation point? You drama queen.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdeKurniawan92

I can't imagine someone who could casually say that when he just realized that he has lost his leg


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KathyA54

Hey! I ordered a whole chicken, and I checked and..................!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PapaNaxos

und ihm fehlt ein Bein!

ihm = dative of 'es', which I'm assuming is what you'd use for (das) Hähnchen.

Although I'm just a learner, so this may not be right...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/simar_833

Must have been a tiger


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jargos

A tiger in Africa!?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MyLegendaryBeing

That's not something you want to wake up and say.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nonaspawn

Oh really? I didn't even notice...

(worst date ever)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlejandroMolina9

What's the difference between "verpasst " and "fehlt" ? Both mean "miss " and I'm just kinda clear of the difference


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

"verpassen" can be used only in a context, where you could not reach a means of transport (or a date) in time. "fehlen" means "to lack", you use it if you have something less than expected.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/azan440476

I'm getting WWII flashbacks


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Steve32837

It looks like it means "For me, a leg is missing." I assume "for me" = "mir", "fehlt" is the form of "fehlen" that matches the third person singular (he, she, it), and in German the verb would be placed second in the sentence. I'm only speculating that this is the reason the sentence is put together this way, but it fits perfectly. Am I right?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

It looks like it means "For me, a leg is missing." I assume "for me" = "mir", "fehlt" is the form of "fehlen" that matches the third person singular (he, she, it), and in German the verb would be placed second in the sentence. I'm only speculating that this is the reason the sentence is put together this way, but it fits perfectly. Am I right?

Pretty much, yes.

I'd say that the dative mir here is the benefactive/antibenefactive dative (dativus commodi vel incommodi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefactive_case ) and describes the person for whose benefit (or to whose detriment, in this case) something happened. Like the "him" in "I bought him a present".

I suppose "for" is one way of translating this meaning.

fehlt does indeed inflect for third person singular (ein Bein) -- you could also have, say, mir fehlen drei Zähne for "I'm missing three teeth" (i.e. three teeth are missing to/from/for me) with third-person plural fehlen to agree with plural drei Zähne.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BlazingFast

I would like to know if we could say "Ich fehle ein Bein". Could anyone tell me please?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SyamkumarR

The correct translation, though awkward in english is 'To me a leg is missing'. So 'who' is doing the action of missing, the 'leg'. The leg is the subject here. So the verb should be 'fahlt' instead of 'fahle'.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BlazingFast

Great explanation - thank you!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TheNewDawn.

can we say : "Ich fehle einem Bein"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

that would mean "A leg misses me". Weird, but grammatically possible.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SyamkumarR

That probably sounds like saying "I miss to a leg", if I am correct.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PopCultureTime

I've been thinking of the exact same question. What's the difference?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

"Ich fehle ein Bein" is not a grammatically correct German sentence. "fehlen" takes a dative object, in this case "mir". The subject is "ein Bein".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BlazingFast

Ah, so the only way to say this is Mir fehlt ein Bein.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jugsbugs

Well I am a surgeon and I find it most useful. My patients would prefer I didn't say it in German though..

Point being many sentences in the German version of duolingo are not useful for travelling nor beginners. The Spanish version is excellent. Time for a revision Duo!!!!!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pearcrow

That's not good.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/shokuroff

There is the sad sentence totally.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ostanek

answer I am missing one leg. Should be accepted


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/brettstuder

"eins" is one. "ein" is a. Just sayin'....


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/4meerschweinchen

'ein' can also mean 'one' though. when you want to say one (of something) you just use the indefinite article. so 'ein Bein' = 'a leg' or 'one leg', 'eine Blume' = 'a flower' or 'one flower', etc. i've only seen 'eins' used when talking specifically about the number 1


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Veganboy

What? Who makes these kinds of sentences?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/borko_kl

Why is ich not used? when to use ich and when to use mir?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sbmassey

'fehlen' means 'to be missing'. 'ich fehle' would therefore mean 'I am missing'. Here, a leg is missing, which translates as 'ein Bein fehlt', and dative is used to say where the thing is missing from, hence 'mir fehlt ein Bein' for 'as for me, a leg is missing'


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/solidgitarius

Because it works as indirect object, ich declines to mir in the dative case.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xKingConduitx

MY LEG!! how unfortunate.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xKingConduitx

does double your lingot wager by maintaning a week long daily challange double the amount of lingots you have?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

No. It doubles your bet. In this case it is five lingots being bet that you might lose but you get ten if you win. ie: keep your streak going for seven days.,

If you set a daily challenge then you will have to meet that level every day for the period of the bet. From a strategy point of view to acquire lingots, it is probably a good idea to reduce your daily challenge, if you are going to start wagering on it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sh.moradkhani

What is the difference between "i'm missing a leg" and "i don't have a leg"?!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/northernguy

Assuming you are talking about an object rather than a person......

I'm missing a leg suggests that a leg was or should be there but no longer is.

I don't have a leg suggests only that there is no leg. Perhaps there never was one nor should it have had one.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dallin1666

i can give you one i got 1 extra


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Platinum2k

So is "Ich fehle ein bein" wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rjjacob

I think the best translation is "I lost a leg."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tuffguykerouac

At long last, I can appreciate German cinema


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidRussnak

What I find alarming is that this sentence seems like the person is surprised to find it missing. Like 'oops! Where'd it go?'


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Osk.S

I'm putting together a flat pack coffee table, I get to the end and guess what. "Mir fehlt ein Bein"

leg Gender: Neuter ! "


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/marioaae

Could it also be "Ich fehle ein Bein!"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PapaNaxos

Just a learner myself, but I don't think it can be that. If I understand correctly, 'fehlen' means 'to be missing'.

So your sentence 'Ich fehle ein(em) Bein' --literal--> 'I am missing to my leg'. Which, I guess, has some implication of the leg missing you or the leg being uncertain as to where you are, or something X-D

It's very odd from an English perspective.

Another example:

'Fehlt dir etwas?' --literal--> 'Is something missing to you?' --rephrased--> 'Is something wrong with you?' --More-Englischy--> 'Is something wrong?', or 'Is everything okay?'

If anyone reads this and sees it as wrong, please correct me!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Treehero

Ich kann beziehen


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sue91707

it is literally >>>> A leg misses me(CAUSE THERE IS A MIR NOT ICH) why mir is subject ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnaMaria_Kat

It sounds like someone wakes up from a party & hangover and they're like: What happened? Who's in my bed? Where are my clothes? And also, where is my leg?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DawHar

Es tut mir lied Entshuldigung


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gianfranco879759

Next on Duolingo: -My legs are OK. -You gain Brozouf.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MagicKr

Sometimes those sentences just don't make any sense.... Million sentences that we actually need in a foreign country (just moved to Austria) but no - 'I am missing a leg' is more important


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Erika592491

Why Mir instead of Ich?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

The German construction is different from the English one. In English you say "I am lacking a leg" with "I" being the subject. But the German word "fehlen" is used differently. The leg is the subject here and "I" appear only as a dative object, so it is "Mir fehlt ein Bein".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

fehlen is "to be missing"; the subject is the leg, and you are the person "to whom" it is missing.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NayutaIto

Does this sentence mean "I've lost a leg"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Not necessarily -- perhaps you never had a second leg due to a birth defect, for example.

It just means that you are missing one leg or that you lack one of your legs, whether that's due to having had two and then losing one, or simply having just one in the first place.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Christian.OT

This goes straight to the "WTF" duolingo section.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_chapstick

why mir and not ich?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Erika592491 asked this question a month ago; please read the thread she started rather than repeating the question.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/vvvyne

The word order is strange to me. 'My missing a leg'? Why is not 'Mir ein Bein fehlt'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

mir is not "my" but rather "(to) me" -- To-me is-missing a leg.

And the verb fehlt is in the second position of the sentence because that's where the verb belongs in a regular sentence: you can't put both mir and ein Bein in front of it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/vvvyne

thank you! I understand now <3


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dlung1

Does the same word apply to human legs and inanimate objects, such as the legs of a table?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

in principle yes. But a table would rather seldom speak, so the sentence would not come up.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FosterDeutsch

Most of us can identify with this statement.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sinekonata

This is so similar on so many levels with "Me falta una pierna"... :D


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lindsey2017

Why isn't it ich instead of mir?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

the construction in German is different from the English one: "ein Bein" is the subject of the sentence and "mir" is a dative (indirect) object.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Because ich is nominative case, used for the subject, but the subject of fehlen (to be missing) is ein Bein.

It's the leg that's missing, and it's missing "to you".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JefeBezos3

I hate when this happens


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Vlad942705

What kind of question is that :D


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WolfVonPosen

It is special phrase or we rly talking about someone who dont have legs and now miss >


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

I don't understand what you are asking. Can you express the question more clearly? What is your mother tongue (maybe knowing this could help)?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WolfVonPosen

Mir alweys reset case form? Cuz i remeber fehlen+Dativ..ein is defintly not Dativ.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

The dative is "mir". The "ein" belongs to "ein Bein", which is grammatically the subject of the German sentence and therefore nominative.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EdgarKHXZ7

Spanish comes into play here.

"me falta una pierna!"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DawsonDarl

I really hope the context is eating chicken...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FJ7FJ
  • 1375

Battlefield?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarcoPaolo14

i cant feel my legs :D


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AxiomaticNexus

Why is it "Mir fehlt ein Bein" (Dative), but "Es fehlen keine Eier" (Accusative)? If we are consistent with the dative, should it not be "Ihm fehlen keine Eier"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

es in es fehlen keine Eier is not accusative. It's nominative; a dummy subject to fill the space before the verb so that the verb will be second. The real subject is keine Eier (which is what the verb agrees with in number).

ihm fehlen keine Eier means "He is not missing any eggs" (i.e. he has all the eggs that he needs, or he still has all of his eggs) rather than "No eggs are missing".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AxiomaticNexus

So "Es" here is nominative, not accusative. But still, why isn't it dative though? Is it because of the "dummy subject" aspect of it in this particular phrase?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

The thing that is not there is in nominative. The person who is missing it is always in dative, if there is one. In "Mir fehlt ein Bein" "ein Bein" is the subject, so a literal translation is something like "A leg is lacking to me".

This is very consequent in German. The situation is only compplicated because the English language mixes these things. In the two sentences "A leg is lacking" and "I am lacking a leg" the subjects are "a leg" resp. "I", although they denote very different concepts, because it is the leg which is lacking in both situations, not I.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AxiomaticNexus

I get that, but in "Es fehlen keine Eier", what's missing the eggs is "Es (it)", which is not in dative, like "Ihr (her)" would be in "Ihr fehlen keine Eier". Why?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

There is no person who is missing the eggs. The eggs themselves are missing. You can say "Eier fehlen" ("eggs are lacking"). But if you use a different word order, the eggs still staying the subject of the sentence, you need a "virtual subject" in the first place, because the verb has to stay in the second position. This "virtual subject" is "es" (the real subject stays "die Eier".
That's a little bit like "there is"/"there are" in English: "There are eggs lacking" shifts the subject "eggs" to a position after the verb as well, which can't be done without using "there".

If you have a real "it", maybe a child ("das Kind", neuter. Then it would be "ihm fehlen Eier" ("it is lacking eggs").


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/patykowy

The day when Duolingo went full Saving-Private-Ryan.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zivi

x is to y means y owns x. This construction exists in Latin as well, and an English speaker just needs to memorize it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fleeny

Apparently, according to someone very knowing, who also studied Latin, it is the DATIVE of POSSESSION. This in fact means nothing to me because I didn't even properly learn the basics of English grammar (or is it grammer ?)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/andreim1828

just because you didn't learn it doesn't mean you have to criticize others who do know it. And it's grammar


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/spieskim

Everyone has wondered whose leg it is in the sentence and let's get it clear! The original sentence:

Es fehlt mir ein Bein.

I have learnt that reflexive pron followed by a DEFINITE noun means the noun is possessed by the pron, for example,

Ich wasche mir die Hände.

Though the case isn't reflexive but I think it still applies. And giving that the following noun is an INDEFINITE one so we can conclude that the leg is not the speaker's!(Otherwise it'll be"Es fehlt mir das Bein.")

This sentence means the speaker has lost a leg of toy or an animal, or a victim(in case it's a play line in Hannibal.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 212

Though you are right in the reflexive case, this does not apply here. The missing leg could be the speaker's or not. Usually one would assume it to be his/her own, if the context doesn't suggest anything different (such as the examples you gave). "Mir fehlt das Bein" would only be appropriate if it is known beforehand that the speaker has had only one leg which is now missing too. "Mir fehlt ein Bein" tells that the speaker is missing one of his/her legs.

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