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  5. "Er ist ein langsamer Hund, l…

"Er ist ein langsamer Hund, langsamer als eine Schnecke."

Translation:He is a slow dog, slower than a snail.

October 15, 2016



Langsamer can mean either slow or slower?

  • 382

Yes, but these are two different kinds of langsamer. In ein langsamer Hund, -er is the nominative singular masculine ending. In langsamer als eine Schnecke, -er is the comparative ending. These two look the same but they are not. Indeed, the two are stacked together if the comparative form is used in a place where a nominative singular masculine form is needed. So “a slower dog” is ein langsamerer Hund.

Hope that helps.


Also, -er could be sometimes used as dative/genitive feminine ending.

(Not sure with example but "Kein Brot gehört langsamer Ente" might be correct)


True -- and your example would work as a newspaper headline where articles are often left out to save space.


This is the sort of sentence that is most effective in helping me discover a language!


Such a cruel thing to say about a dog :(


So if "ein langsamer Hund" does not mean "a slower dog," how does one say "a slower dog"?

  • 382

ein langsamerer Hund. langsam + -er (comparative) + -er (nom. masc.)


Can we say 'He' about a dog?


yeas because the german nouns as you know, have genders.


Language leaning is fun. Schnell (DE) = fast (EN), But similar sounding Snail(EN) is epitome of slowness. And Snail (En) = Schnecke (DE) which sounds like snake :). Lol.


Sure that he is not dead ?


Why is "slow dog" nominative? I presume it was accusative since the verb "is" is acting on the object. Is "sein" a special case?

  • 382

The “object” of sein – as well as a small number of other words, most notably werden “to become” and heißen “to be called” – appears in nominative case.

If you’re interested in the theory as to why: The “object” of these verbs isn’t actually an object at all; it’s what linguists call a predicative: A phrase which is part of the verb, but refers back to either the subject or an object. Such predicatives often appear in the same case as whatever they are referring back to. For verbs like sein, werden, heißen, that thing is the subject, which means that the predicative appears in the nominative. (Side note: This is actually a common behaviour of predicatives, not only in German but also many other languages – until very recently including English. It’s the reason why grammar nazis will insist that you should say “it was I” instead of “it was me”.)


Ah okay thanks for clearing that up!


Shouldn't it be "Es" and not "Er" when referring to the dog?

  • 382

In this case, no. The use of “he” in English shows that we are talking about a particular dog (maybe the speaker’s pet) which is male, so er is the only possible translation. In general, there are three possibilities:

  1. We are talking about a particular dog of known gender as above. In this case, use the appropriate pronoun for that gender, like in English.

  2. We are talking about “a dog” of unspecified gender. In that case, use pronoun that corresponds to the grammatical gender of the word Hund, i.e. masculine.

  3. We haven’t been talking about the dog before at all (maybe we answer the question “What is this?”). In this case, the pronoun is a general reference and you default to the neuter pronoun for introducing it: “Es ist ein Hund.” (if that sounds weird, you actually do the same in English. Compare how the after delivery a doctor would say “it’s a boy/girl” rather than “he/she’s a boy/girl”).

I hope that helps.


The English translation is somewhat meaningless ohne comma.


Are we talking about Herbert's dog on Family Guy?


How would "He is a slow dog, slow as a snail" be translated ? Would "Er ist ein langsamer Hund, langsam als eine Schnecke" be a correct translation ?


Would "Er ist ein langsamer Hund, langsam als eine Schnecke" be a correct translation ?


als = than in comparisons (langsamer als = slower than).

For comparisons of equality, you need wie: so langsam wie eine Schnecke = as slow as a snail.

langsam als would be like saying "as slow than".

And langsamer wie would be like saying "slower as". (Though lots of native German speakers do use wie in comparisons of inequality, that's not considered standard.)


OK thanks for your explanation


Hah,no Dogs are slower than a Snail.


A snail with a jetpack would trivially outpace many dogs. However, that's not interesting - finding a race where a snail would be faster than a dog under similar conditions is more interesting.

Well, terminal velocity, other things being equal, would be defined by sqrt(m/SC), with m for mass, S for projection area and C for how-aerodynamic-the-shape-is coefficient.

If we take some really big snail like Achatina achatina, we would be able to find a puppy of the same weight category, maybe even an adult dog of some toy breed.

However, due to snail's more aerodynamic form it would have a solid advantage. Different defensive reactions (flailing vs hiiding in a shell) push this difference even further.

Thus, in this situation, under equal conditions, I'd expect the snail to be faster than the dog.

(although they both would be better off as pets)


thank you for this. Science wins!

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