In German there are four cases. We call these nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. Now the nominative case is used when the noun is the subject. The accusative when the noun is a direct object, dative when indirect and genitive is used for possessions. What I find really helps is a case table you can find one on this link: http://german.about.com/library/blcase_sum.htm
You are eating what? An apple. Apfel is accusative in this sentence. The masculine indefinite article in the accusative case is "einen".
Right. Absolut right. You can not figure it out, because in German there is no continuous at all. :D It does not exist. We just use all time:
- Ich esse. = I eat. ; Ich bin groß.= I am tall.; Ich springe.= I jump.
In case a German person really wants to tell you he is doing something right now, he will use the word "gerade"(~now) or another time word.
- Ich springe gerade.= I am jumping (~right now).
The German sentence "Du isst einen Apfel" can be translated as "You eat an apple" or "You eat one apple" or "You are eating an apple" or "You are eating one apple." The indefinite article "ein" can mean "a" or "one" and the verb "isst" can mean "eat" or "is eating." It cannot translate to "You are eating the apple" because "the" is a definite article and the German definite article is "der" not "ein". The German sentence "Du isst den Apfel" would translate to "You eat the apple" or "You are eating the apple."
Because "einen" isn't conditional on the subject (du). "You are eating an apple". I am eating what? An apple. Apple is the direct object and therefore it switches from ein Apfel to einen Apfel. If you said He is eating an apple or We are eating an apple you would still use "einen".
Also, cases can be a tricky thing to understand if your native language doesn't have them. I suggest you find another source online that explains it in detail.
Gooddog123, here is a website where you can check the conjugation of all the verbs. http://conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-german-verb-essen.html
You will not learn "why" from Duolingo. DL will teach you some vocabulary and let you practice reading, writing, speaking and listening. If you want to learn why something is said the way it is (which I do), you will need to go to other sources. If you are in a country that allows access to the Internet, then you can usually type your question in the Google search bar and find an answer. There are many good web sites that will teach you everything about grammar.
den/einen are masculine accusative.
Have a look at these tables:
Two questions that I didn't really get out of the questions below... (not good with words lawl)
- Is it only masculine whose articles change in situation like these, or do nueter and feminine also change?
- So, is it safe to say that ein changes to einen when the article comes after the verb? Or is it more complicated than that?
Thanks, sorry if this is cluttery...
That's not the right way to think about it. In German there are four cases: nominative, genitive, dative and accusative. Nouns, adjectives and articles change according to which case they are in. So, how do you know which case to use? Certain verbs trigger certain cases, e.g. "jemandes gedenken" triggers the genitive, "jemandem danken" triggers the dative and "jemanden grüßen" the accusative. Certain linking verbs (most notably "sein" and "werden") are followed by the nominative if they are used as a kind of equal sign.
The situation becomes even more interesting since prepositions do trigger certain cases, too: "wegen" is a genitive preposition, "mit" is a dative preposition and "für" triggers the accusative. There are also two-way prepositions like "auf" that can be followed either by dative or by accusative. In these cases, the meaning changes according to which preposition you use.
If you have figured out what case to use, you can refer to the tables Hohenems linked to, to get the correct form of the articles.
Ein, eine, einen, einem, einer are all forms of the indefinite article - which translates to "a" or "an" or "one" in English. Der, das, dem, den, die are all forms of the definite article - which translates to "the" in English. You must memorize a German declension chart and pick the correct word from the chart, depending on a combination of the gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) of the word that follows the article and how the word is used in the sentence (nominative, dative, accusative). If you don't already have some understanding of these cases, then you will need to study at other websites to become familiar with the parts of speech. Once you learn to recognize the parts of speech in German, you will find learning all languages much easier, including English.
Search for "German declension" on the Internet for additional sites.