Nominative is the subject of the sentence, and accusative is the direct receiver. (eg. The dog sees the man = der Hund sieht den Mann; the dog = nom, the man = acc). We change the article (the = der, die, das, den, dem...) to reflect the case.
I think this site explains it pretty well: http://german.speak7.com/german_cases.htm
Yes, ‘er’ can mean ‘it’, when referring to an inanimate object of masculine grammatical gender. The verb ‘haben’=“to have” in this sentence indicates possession, which in German requires an animate possessor unless the object is an inalienable possession. Since an egg is an independent entity, it's difficult to conjure a situation in which it would be an inalienable possession of an inanimate object. For example, in English, one can say “The basket has an egg.”, but the literal German translation *‘Der Korb hat ein Ei.’ implies that the basket is magically alive. Instead, one would say ‘Es ist ein Ei im Korb.’ = “There's an egg in the basket.”.
Although ‘er’=“he” is indeed a possessor here, it's the subject of the sentence, so it's in the nominative case. If the egg were the subject, then ‘er’ would be in something like the genitive case: ‘Ein Ei ist seins.’ = “One egg is his.”, although actually ‘seins’=“his” is a possessive pronoun.
Hello, Ayia0. Just go back to Basics 2 and read the Tips and Notes section! I hope this helps...
ihr vs er If you're new to German, ihr and er may sound exactly same, but there is actually a difference. ihr sounds similar to the English word ear, and er sounds similar to the English word air (imagine a British/RP accent). Don't worry if you can't pick up on the difference at first. You may need some more listening practice before you can tell them apart. Also, try using headphones instead of speakers. Even if this doesn't seem to help, knowing your conjugation tables will greatly reduce the amount of ambiguity.
I am confused! Shouldn't this be: 'Er hat eine Ei' ??
I understand that its das Ei and all but isn't this an Accusative Case?
Also I came accross the following sentence in this Food exercise only:
The man has a fish. The translation for which was given as: Der Mann hat einen Fisch.
Is my understanding that this is an accusative case wrong? If so then how is the translation of second example wrong? Where am I going wrong? Please help!
Rupam, the accustive case only influences the article of masculine words. Nominative 'das Ei' and 'ein Ei' therefore stay as they are in the accusative. It is correct that nominative 'der Fisch' (and 'ein Fisch') become 'den Fisch' and 'einen Fisch' in the accusative. (BTW - You can't have 'eine Ei' in any case as 'Ei' is not a feminine noun).