"The soup is healthy even though it contains salt."
Translation:Die Suppe ist gesund, obwohl sie Salz enthält.
Because "die Suppe" (the soup) is a feminine noun. That means you do not only use a feminine article ("die"), but also refer to the soup as "sie" (she) and talk about "her flavour", etc. In short, grammatically speaking you treat the soup as if it were a woman. The same goes for masculine and neuter nouns. By contrast, in English all inanimate objects are referred to as "it", so you can't translate the sentence literally into German.
When the American writer Mark Twain tried to learn German in the 19th century, he amused himself by imitating what this would sound like in English. You can read his story here:
Thanks for the link. It was interesting. I have decided to have a closer look at the words (in German).
Twain's use of the genders is surprisingly accurate, actually. :)
the rain = der Regen (masculine)
the hail = der Hagel (masculine)
the snow = der Schnee (masculine)
the mud = der Matsch/der Schlamm (masculine)
the fishwife = das Fischweib (neuter - note that the word "Weib" is considered derogatory in modern Standard German)
the scale = die Schuppe (feminine)
the mouth = der Mund (masculine)
the sound = der Ton/der Laut (masculine)
Is there any formula like thing based on ending syllables to classify the nouns (as M,F or N) . I came across some guidelines in the book German for dummies, which I am yet to study and work out.
With most nouns, no, unfortunately - you have to learn the gender by heart when you learn the word. However, with some words you can tell the gender from the ending or other things. See here:
Gender hints masculine nouns: http://german.about.com/library/blgen_der.htm
Gender hints feminine nouns: http://german.about.com/library/blgen_die.htm
Gender hints neuter nouns: http://german.about.com/library/blgen_das.htm
Why can't it be "obwohl sie enthält Salz"? I thought word order didn't matter?
actually it does. the dependent clause should have the verb at the end.
why can't it be die Suppe ist gesund, auch wenn es Salz enthält? thats what google thinks it should be...
I think using 'es' is fine, as it refers to 'it', even though using 'sie' would sound better. Because you used 'obwohl' (a subordinating conjunction - or verb scarer to you and me) the verb, 'enthält', has to go at the end of the clause/sentence. I hope that helped.
I don't think you can use 'die' here, only because when used later on in a sentence, it usually means 'which'. Therefore, you'd be saying 'The soup is healthy, although which has salt', but I might be wrong.