"Mir fehlt ein Bein!"

Translation:I am missing a leg!

January 25, 2013

This discussion is locked.


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)


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.


So "fehlt" always triggers the dative?


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" :)


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.


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?


in this context: yes


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.


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.


Mi manca una gamba. Il me manque un jambe. Me falta una pierna. Falta-me uma perna.

Are all example correct?

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Italian as well


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.


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.


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.


Does this "mistake" happen often in Germany?


Who comes up with this stuff?


Now... where did my leg go?!


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


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


You all crack me up! Laughing out loud!


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

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"Ich spüre mein Bein nicht";


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

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


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."


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


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...


Must have been a tiger


A tiger in Africa!?


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


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


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


Because fehlen is a dative verb.


but there is "einem"


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.


wow, and I though my mother language was difficult (portuguese)


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.


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.


that seems reasonable, thank you :)


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.


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?


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.


That would mean "a leg is missing me".


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


I'm getting WWII flashbacks


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

(worst date ever)


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


"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.


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?


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.


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


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'.


Great explanation - thank you!


can we say : "Ich fehle einem Bein"?


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


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


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


"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".


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


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!!!!!!!


That's not good.


There is the sad sentence totally.


es fehlt mir ein Bein. Is this correct?


es fehlt mir ein Bein. Is this correct?

Technically yes, but I would prefer Mir fehlt ein Bein. without es.


Ok. Is it because, mir fehlt ein Bein, is more about someone's personal loss?rather than an impersonal feel given by es in, es fehlt mir ein Bein!


No, there isn't really a difference in meaning. It is rather that the longer version is less common.


Are the following German translations acceptable?

es fehlt mir ein Bein

mir fehlt es ein Bein

mir fehlt es an einem Bein

es fehlt mir an einem Bein



The most common version is "Mir fehlt ein Bein". Here the "virtual subject" "es" is completely implicit.
"Es fehlt mir ein Bein" is another possible word order, though less common.

"Mir fehlt es ein Bein" is not possile at all.

The other two are in principle possible, but make use of an archaic construction "an etwas fehlen". So you would not find them in modern language.


Danke. So, an etwas fehlen is anyways less common compared to, etwas fehlen or the dative construction with fehlen to indicate sb/ sth that is affected by the absence.

But why is, Mir fehlt es ein Bein, impossible?


why is, Mir fehlt es ein Bein, impossible?

There is something (the mir) before the verb, so the verb is in the second position where it belongs -- no dummy es is needed to fill the space there.

The real subject is ein Bein.

So Mir fehlt ein Bein is possible.

The es of Es fehlt mir ein Bein is not like the es of es gibt or es regnet, which is always required; it's a dummy subject that's only required if there would otherwise be nothing in front of the verb.


thank you so much Mizinamo.


Said Ronald Reagan in the movie King's Row.


What is the subject here? "ein Bein" is the subject? What about "Ein Bein Fehlt mir"? Is it correct? Does it have the same meaning? Does it even make any sense?


What is the subject here? "ein Bein" is the subject?

That is correct.

What about "Ein Bein Fehlt mir"? Is it correct? Does it have the same meaning? Does it even make any sense?

Theoretically correct, but it sounds odd to me. Mir fehlt ein Bein or Es fehlt mir ein Bein but not Ein Bein fehlt mir.


Can this mean both I dont have a leg (as i lost it/cut it in an accident) and i dont have a leg from a toy or doll?


Usually you would assume the former meaning, but if you are assembling a doll, you might indeed say the latter, when you find out that one leg is missing.


What? Who makes these kinds of sentences?


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


'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'


MY LEG!! how unfortunate.


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


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.


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


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.


i can give you one i got 1 extra


So is "Ich fehle ein bein" wrong?


At long last, I can appreciate German cinema


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


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

leg Gender: Neuter ! "


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


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!


Ich kann beziehen


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


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?


Es tut mir lied Entshuldigung


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


Why Mir instead of Ich?


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".


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


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


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.


This goes straight to the "❤❤❤" duolingo section.


why mir and not ich?


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


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


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.


thank you! I understand now <3


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


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


Most of us can identify with this statement.


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


Why isn't it ich instead of mir?


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.


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".


I hate when this happens


What kind of question is that :D


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


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)?


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


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


Spanish comes into play here.

"me falta una pierna!"


I really hope the context is eating chicken...

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i cant feel my legs :D


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"?


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".


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?


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.


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?


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").


would, ihm fehlt es an keinen Eiern convey the same meaning?


Not really. Though not completely wrong, this sentence would be considered very archaic. And even then "Ihm fehlt es nicht an Eiern" would be prederred.


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


I keep confusing bees and legs. When I first read this, I was imaging a beekeeper saying "29997, 29998, 29999... mir fehlt eine Biene".


It reminds me of how, in English, people often say "I have a missing X" (tooth/leg/brain/delivery, etc). No, you don't have it, if it's missing!


This is what comes after the classic "incoming!".


For some reasons, this raises so many questions... Mainly, how can one person miss his/her own leg? And what is the story behind it?


The story behind may be an accident.
"missing" is to be interpreted in the sense of "lacking", not "longing for".


Anyone short of any body part is "missing" it. Para Athletics regulations, for example, refer to "missing" body parts. (Edited in response to fehrerdef's edit.)


Thanks for the clarification. I'll edit my comment respectively.
But then I don't understand the original question. What's the problem with "missing"?


I don't know why anyone has a problem with "missing" either. In English, a one-armed person could say either that they are missing an arm, or that their arm is missing.

Maybe someone's understanding is affected by their native language.


Is it a german expression? I dont get it. If it literally means that the person misses a leg, i think it would be: "Ich fehlte ein Bein". In this case it`s like when you feel cold but you are not a cold person, and then use the dative case: Mir ist kalt x Ich bin kalt.


The German construction is different from English.
"fehlen" means "to be missing / to be absent".
What is missing? "a leg". So "ein Bein" is the subject of the sentence.
"to whom" is it missing? "me". So "mir" is dative (indirect object).
Literally something like "To me a leg is missing".
You can't say "Ich fehlte ein Bein". "Ich fehlte" means "I was absent" or "I was missing". In this sentence there is no room for an additional "ein Bein".

And, yes, that's similar to "mir ist kalt". It is not me, who is cold (that would mean my body is frozen or something like that), I only feel cold. English unfortunately doesn't discriminate that.
But German does. The German sentence says "it is cold to me" (it only appears to me that it is cold).
"Ich bin kalt" means that literally my body temperature is extremely low (so I'm dead), or, more probably, it is used figuratively to say "I am a person that lacks emotions".


It's strange that people that want to learn new languages don't understand they are different and can't make an effort to understand the constructions that are not exactly the same like in their languages. Before, a teacher told you how it's said in the language you were learning and nobody asked so many (strange) questions about it. This is the same, for example, in Latin languages: Mi manca una gamba, Me falta una pierna... or in Slavic languages: Chybí mi noha, Fali mi noga... in Greek: Μου λείπει ένα πόδι etc.

The languages are beautiful because they are diffirent! :)


Keep walking. It's just a step behind you.

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