"Es fehlen keine Eier."

Translation:There are no eggs missing.

January 28, 2013

72 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/blargblargblarg

Are there historical/colloquial reasons for the usage of Es in a sentence such as this?

February 13, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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The word ‘Es’ here is an extraposed dummy copy of the subject, ‘keine Eier’. ‘Es-Extraposition’ is a way of moving heavy subjects to the end of the sentence to make them easier to parse; lexically heavy subjects typically present new information, which belongs at the end of the sentence. In English, this is known as “It-extraposition”, as in “It's a relief that there are no missing eggs today.”, which is less awkward than “That there are no missing eggs today is a relief.”

July 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Michael843717

I understood that "fehlen" is a dative verb. Shouldn't "Es" then be in the dative form "ihm?" How does this sentence differ from "Mir fehlt mein Beim?" Am I overthinking this?

January 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo
Mod
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Es is (a copy of) the subject, so it's in the nominative case.

fehlen can take a dative object to indicate who is missing those objects.

But you don't have to include it.

So Es fehlen keine Eier is fine.

You could have said, for example, Uns fehlen keine Eier with dative uns, to indicate that we are not missing any eggs.

Mir fehlt ein Bein: the leg is missing, and you are the one who notices this lack -- you are missing the leg.

January 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/BvbVUEhn
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Thank you for your explanation

February 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/YoussefLeo

so, grammatically, can "keine Eier" be switched with "es."

if yes, does that actually happen in spoken german

December 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AdamKean
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I wouldn't say switched.

You can place "keine Eier" at the beginning of this sentence, but then "es" would disappear:

Keine Eier fehlen.

^That type of clause is generally avoided, where a non-pronoun subject (e.g. "keine Eier" instead of just "sie") is followed by a conjugated verb with nothing after the verb. The "'es'-extraposition" is also often used to get around starting a clause with a long/wordy subject; and I feel it gives a sentence a more impersonal feel — distancing the speaker from what s/he is saying somewhat.

So, if that was at all unclear: yes, it does actually happen in spoken German.

December 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/slug_a_bed

Another translation given was "It is not lacking eggs," but "It lacks no eggs" (my attempt) was marked wrong. Why was I mistaken, please?

Also, why is it "fehlen" and not "fehlt," please? Thanks in advance.

May 7, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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It's ‘fehlen’ because ‘Eier’, the underlying subject, is plural, and the verb agrees with the underlying subject, not with the singular dummy subject ‘Es’. Similarly, the verb in the [British] English sentence is “are”, not “is”, because the underlying subject, “eggs”, is plural. [In colloquial American English, however, the verb agrees with the singular dummy subject “There”: “There's no missing eggs.”]

May 31, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/thetimesurfer

But in a sentence such as "Es gibt keine Eier," it's "gibt" and not "geben." Doesn't this follow the same principle?

July 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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Excellent question. Although ‘Es fehlen keine Eier.’ and ‘Es gibt keine Eier’ look superficially similar and have very similar but opposite meanings, they're actually very different constructs.

The sentence ‘Es fehlen keine Eier.’ has a real subject, ‘keine Eier’, commands verb agreement, while the word ‘Es’ is just an extraposed dummy pronoun permitting the subject to appear at the end of the sentence. English also has “it”-extraposition, but only for clauses, not for noun phrases.

In contrast, ‘Es gibt keine Eier’ has only a dummy-pronoun subject, ‘Es’, while ‘keine Eier’ is the object of the verb ‘gibt’. English has a similar construct using the dummy-pronoun subject “There” with the verb “are”: “There are no eggs.”

July 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/thetimesurfer

So in this exercise's case, the more correct translation would then be "It is missing no eggs" while a translation for "es gibt keine Eier" would be "there are no eggs." That makes sense, thanks.

July 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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English really doesn't have a comparable construction to ‘Es fehlen keine Eier.’, in which a subject that's a simple noun is extraposed as “It”.

In the sentence “It is missing no eggs.”, “eggs” is actually the object, while “It” is not a dummy subject, but a real subject pronoun referring to an actual thing that is missing no eggs, which you can test by asking what “It” is: “What is missing no eggs?”, which is a sensible question.

In contrast, substituting “What” for an extraposed subject makes no sense and is even ungrammatical, as in ‘Was fehlen keine Eier?’, or (using the example from the answer to blargblargblarg) in “What's a relief that there are no missing eggs today?”

July 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/hechap
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So does that mean "Es" is there for no other reason than to allow the verb to come 2nd in the sentence? So you cannot say "Keine Eier fehlen." because in German you never use Kein in front of the subject? Is that why? Can you say "Die Eier fehlen!"? The eggs are missing!"?

April 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jaye16
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Once again I thank you for your clear and in depth explanation. I've only one qualm. As an EFL teacher raised in the US but teaching abroad I would object to the use of the singular used with 'eggs'. It may of course be colloquial in some regions but it's still not correct.

Based on all your posts it's crystal clear that your knowledge of grammar is far advanced so I'll have to say I have learned something new and I am grateful. (But I don't think I'd ever be able to use it, anymore than I could use "y'all'' when I lived in the South or 'yous' when in Brooklyn.)

I always look forward to your posts.

July 25, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/rollingstock
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Thank you AndreasWitnstein for the excellent and patient explanation of this grammatical structure. (Thanks also for teaching us how to say it in Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and French further down! It's interesting to be reminded that "egg" is one of the words that English adopted from the Vikings.) One minor quibble: It's not exactly colloquial American English to say "there's no missing eggs." Rather, it's a slip of the tongue that all English speakers are liable to make (regardless of country, I suspect) because we don't usually have to make our verbs agree with a subject that comes after. I don't think you'll see that mistake in good writing.

November 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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Thanks for the “reminder” that “egg” is from the Vikings. I wasn't aware of that.

“There's” + plural isn't a slip of the tongue, it's a logical reanalysis of “There” as the singular (dummy) subject of the sentence, just like the dummy subject “It” in “It's many miles away.” You won't see it much in formal writing except in quotes, but it's now used in the everyday speech of Americans from all social strata and all regions.

November 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Khymsdragon

There`s may be correct in some sentences but not that one. It should be there are no missing eggs because eggs is plural. There is no house here = theres because the noun following is singular. Your comparison with its is not accurate. It is = it`s but it is a singular pronoun. You never say It are.

http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/sensen/part2/twelve/there.html

eta sorry about the highlighting. keyboard glitching

March 28, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/oqughuchi
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Note: 'there's' is frequently used in colloquial English to refer even to plural subjects. It may not be standard, but it is used.

As AndreasWitnstein pointed out above, that is.

March 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Tor_Heyerdal
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Well yeah. That's why it's colloquial. It's technically ungrammatical, but everyone uses it anyway. You're really just helping to prove his point in your attempt to disprove it. lol

September 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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“It lacks no eggs” uses the habitual tense, indicating a general non-lack of eggs; whereas “It is not lacking eggs” uses the present progressive, indicating a current non-lack of eggs. German does not make this distinction, so if one is accepted, the other should be too.

June 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Erikman
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Why is it 'fehlen' and not 'fehlt'?

May 13, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/lothandar

Eggs are plural, that's why.

July 12, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Vifon_the_Dog

I wonder if the fact that you're heavily downvoted means that you're incorrect. What you say makes sense to me.

October 6, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/lothandar

I looked it up before I posted it and based on how I understand the sentence (AndreasWitnstein explains in more detail above) the object in the sentence are the eggs, that's why fehlen is required. These downvotes may be coming from early learners who want German to work exactly like English and can't accept that it doesn't. Thus they downvote the bad news.

October 7, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Musetta

Why : "There are no missing eggs." When it is written with "es" ?

January 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/robl326

It is missing no eggs.

Why would that not be accepted? It translates directly and means the same thing. I think?

June 3, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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Given that “It is not lacking eggs.” is accepted, “It is missing no eggs.” should be too, which is closer to the German. However there is a subtle difference in meaning between these sentences and the German “Es fehlen keine Eier.”.

In “It is missing no eggs.” and similar English sentences, the “It” is a real pronoun referring to a specific implied subject that isn't missing any eggs, such as “the dough”: “The dough is missing no eggs.”. The pronoun here agrees in gender and number with the implied subject, so for example if it's a goose that isn't missing any eggs, the pronoun would be “She”: “She is missing no eggs.”.

The ‘Es’ in ‘Es fehlen keine Eier.’, in contrast, is a dummy pronoun which does not stand for any specific implied subject. More germanely, as shown in a moment, it doesn't stand for any specific implied indirect object. The reason that this sentence causes so much confusion for those who aren't native German speakers is its exceptional case-marking: Both ‘Es’ and ‘keine Eier’ are marked as subjects in the nominative case. The same meaning can be conveyed without the dummy pronoun by the straightforward sentence ‘Keine Eier fehlen.’, meaning “No eggs are missing.”. To specify what or who isn't missing any eggs, the dative case is used, so the real pronoun representing for a goose (‘Gans’) would be ‘ihr’: ‘Keine Eier fehlen ihr’, so even if the sentence is inverted to ‘Ihr fehlen keine Eier’, there is no confusion. But ‘Es’-extraposition can still be (and usually is) applied when the indirect object is present: ‘Es fehlen ihr keine Eier’, or ‘Es fehlen der Gans keine Eier’.

So “It is missing no eggs.”, for neuter “it”, translates most accurately as ‘Es fehlen ihm keine Eier’, not simply as ‘Es fehlen keine Eier.’.

June 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Tor_Heyerdal
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After reading through this entire thread, it is quite evident that this man just plain deserves all of our lingots.

September 13, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Incubatorfunk

can you, Andreas, or someone else translate the German example sentences? i can't quite understand them. (e.g. Keine Eier fehlen ihr = it is missing no eggs(?), ‘Es fehlen ihr keine Eier' = there are no eggs it is missing(?)... is this correct?)

also, is Fehlen a dative verb? (does that make sense?)

thanks a bunch, this is very interesting.

November 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/thetimesurfer

I put "It is missing no eggs," which to my knowledge should be correct... is this wrong?

July 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Bencloete
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Can you say: Keine Eier fehlen?

December 16, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/john503633

Yes

June 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Maxilaria

What is the difference between "fehlen" and "verpassen"?

March 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Mr.rM
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fehlen means “to be missing/absent”, verpassen is “to miss (out) something”.

March 19, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Maxilaria

Thank you, this is really helpful!

March 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/jmilanezi

I'm not a german speaker, but trying to get some logical solution to that, maybe the subject of the phrase is "Eier" (eggs). So: Keine Eier fehlen es ("No eggs miss it", in a possible literal translation). Furthermore, "Das Fehlen" is also a name, meaning the absence, the lack. Although it is not the particular case of this statement, it can be used to express a situation in which some particular object, singular or plural, is missing. I think some native speaker could endorse or correct these thoughts of mine.

May 23, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/JJ1856
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'Keine Eier fehlen' (without the 'es') would be better??. And have the same meaning as 'Es fehlen keine Eier'

December 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/rollingstock
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Somewhere in this long conversation, one of the native German speakers explains that "Keine Eier fehlen" is possible, but that the more natural thing to say is "Es fehlen keine Eier," as in the example. That's why DuoLingo is presenting it. We just need to get used to it. I know that you can also put in a dative pronoun to indicate who is missing the subject: "Es fehlen mir meine Schuhe" is "I am missing my shoes."

December 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/toggrikk
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This was complicated! Does anyone know if "fehlen" works in the same way as "manquer" in French or "felas" in Scandinavian languages?

September 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/BB__
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Yup, it works like "manquer"

September 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/thetimesurfer

Can you give an example of a sentence in those languages?

September 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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Norwegian: “Det mangler ingen egg.”

Danish: “Det mangler ingen æg.”

Swedish: “Det saknas inga ägg.” (Not quite the same, because ‘saknas’ is passive.) [btw: “felas” means “miss” only in the sense of “misdone”.]

French: “Il ne manque pas d'œufs.” (Not quite the same, because French doesn't have a distinct word for ‘kein’, and uses the partitive “d'œufs” here.)

September 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/BB__
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GER: "Es fehlen keine Eier." FR: "Il ne manque pas d'oeufs"

September 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/apsen

How are beginners supposed to figure out AndreasWitnstein's response; I am not blaming him, of course, but can't the authors of this program use a little common sense in building lessons?

November 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/AhsanHanif

"The eggs are not missing" also works.

December 2, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/lai_mesunda
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Why does "eggs" require the definite article "the"? Why can't it have no article or an indefinite article instead, given that the modifier keine replaces an indefinite article? :o

[I wrote Eggs are not missing and it said I needed to place "the" in front of "eggs".]

April 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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In English, a sentence with a common-noun subject without a determiner is understood to make a statement about that subject in general. For example, “Eggs are not square.” asserts that, in general, eggs are not square. Similarly, *“Eggs are not missing.” would assert that not-being-missing is a general property of eggs.

April 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/lai_mesunda
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OH YEAHHHH. I totally forgot about that. Thanks!

April 27, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/JodineSparks

Of course no eggs are missing! The recipe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENcpXhWxrwY is really rather clear about this. It specifies the correct number of Eier three times, after all...

September 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/miorfaris
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Fehlen because Eier is the Object?

January 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/az_p
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Subject. See Andreas' previous comment to user 'slug_a_bed'. This was answered two years ago!

January 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Al-Nabulsi

Can we say "Keine Eier fehlen" ?

May 6, 2017

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

Actually you could. I copy-paste from post above...

Somewhere in this long conversation, one of the native German speakers explains that "Keine Eier fehlen" is possible, but that the more natural thing to say is "Es fehlen keine Eier," as in the example. That's why DuoLingo is presenting it. We just need to get used to it. I know that you can also put in a dative pronoun to indicate who is missing the subject: "Es fehlen mir meine Schuhe" is "I am missing my shoes."

July 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/hechap
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It seems like you would be saying that the eggs themselves are missing something unstated - in other words, in your sentence above, "No eggs" is your subject. So, I do not think that sentence will work to indicate that no eggs are missing. Perhaps you could say: "Wir fehlen keine Eier." (we are missing no eggs.). Or perhaps you could throw in an indirect object for "Uns fehlen keine Eier." ("We are lacking no eggs.")? Perhaps a native speaker could step in here, and help? :-)

May 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Al-Nabulsi

Das ist sinnvoll! Thank you very much!

May 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/aalibash

What is wrong with "It does not miss eggs?"

August 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/az_p
Mod
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"To miss" uses a different verb - vermissen, I think.

January 12, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/kurtqiao
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"There're no eggs missing" is not accepted!!

December 10, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/AndreasWitnstein
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Please report it using the ‘Report a Problem’ button.

December 16, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/KnutHjertv

How about: "Es ist keine Eier fehlen." ?

September 12, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Vennrod

Why is "No eggs missing" is wrong?

November 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Aarmur

It isn't coherent English - It should be 'No eggs are missing'. You need the verb for it to make sense.

November 20, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/JoanFerrer5

Anyway I have written No eggs are missing and it says it is wrong.

September 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Aarmur

'No eggs are missing' sounds alright to me. I would report that if it comes up again and doesn't accept it.

September 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/hechap
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What do you do with the "es" when a prepositional phrase is added? "Vor dem Besuch des Fuch es fehlen keine Eier" oder "Vor dem Besuch des Fuch es keine Eier fehlen."?

June 10, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AdamKean
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In short, it disappears.

Please see AndreasWitnstein's comment/s which explain it to varying degrees of length.


The examples you gave need a bit of fixing (for reasons beyond the "es" issue), because your prepositional phrase (which should be „Vor dem Besuch des Fuchses“ I believe) represents that we are talking about the past (due to the preposition "vor"), whilst the verb "fehlen" remains in the present tense.

So, keeping your prepositional phrase and remaining consistent with tenses, I would correct your sentence to something like:

„Vor dem Besuch des Fuchses haben keine Eier gefehlt.“ or „Vor dem Besuch des Fuchses fehlten keine Eier.“

June 10, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/hechap
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Could you say: "Es fehlen keine Eier, aber das Huhn ist weg!"

September 17, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/YoussefLeo

Isn't eggs a dative object here? I want to write "keiner Eier"

I am making this mistaken assumption by comparing this sentence to "Du fehlst mir." Is it a different sort of sentence?

December 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AdamKean
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Before I get into the answer, in future, please read through all the comments (and a quick Google search wouldn't hurt) before posting a question, because in this case, your question has already been posed and answered on this very thread.

I'll try to quickly summarise.
"Eggs" are the subject here. If they were a dative object btw, it would be "keinen Eiern".

The dative object of "fehlen" is the person that is missing the eggs. As that isn't specified here, there is no dative object.

Your above example would translate to "I am missing you". Notice how the subject and object have been swapped from the German sentence. Hence why "I am not missing any eggs." would translate to:

Es fehlen mir keine Eier;
Keine Eier fehlen mir; or
Mir fehlen keine Eier.

December 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/YoussefLeo

So the answer to my question is: they are different sentences because one (eggs sentence) drops the dative object if there isn't a specific identity missing the subject?

December 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AdamKean
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Yes, though it's probably better to think of it the other way round:

i.e. the subject of the verb "fehlen" is the thing that is missing; and, where applicable, a dative object can be added to show the person (or thing) that is missing the subject.

December 16, 2018
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