It depends if "das" is stand-alone pronoun, then it translates to "this", or if it is an article, then it translates to "the".
Das ist schön. (stand-alone pronoun) This is beautiful. (Not: The is beautiful.)
Das kleine Kind. (article for Kind) The little child.
Das ist das kleine Kind. (both) This is the little child.
If you want to say "this" as an article, you have to use "Dieser, diese, dieses" depending on gender.
This is this little child. Das ist dieses kleine Kind.
Please help out some more, if you can. I thought that "das" was "that" and "dies" was "this". When I did the lesson today, though, I was surprised to see in the drop down definitions that "das" was "this" AND "that". Are both "dies" and "das" used interchangeably for "this" and "that" or is only "das" used for "that" and "this", and "dies" just for "this"?
I would go with the latter. For stand-alone pronouns "das = this/that" and "dies = this". However, I'm just a native speaker who never followed the German tree and I know that duolingo can be very technical on these things in the French tree.
You are probably right etymologically in that "this" is related to "dies" and "that" is related to "das/dass". The usage of these words is a little different though, so idiomatically "das" is translated with both "this" and "that". As often you will find a middle ground in Dutch.
"this and that" English
"dit en dat" Dutch
"dies und das" German
this little child -
dieses kleine Kind
the little child-
das kleine Kind
This is this little child.
Das ist dieses kleine Kind.
(also, but rarer: Dies ist dieses kleine Kind.)
This is the little child.
Das ist das kleine Kind.
(also, but rarer: Dies ist das kleine Kind.)
das kleine Kind -- the presence of the definite article das causes mixed inflection in the article klein.
Thus it's das kleine Kind in the nominative case.
I'm Italian, but I studied ancient latin and I pretty know what accusative is. I'm not sure to be able to explain it in English.. but I'll try! (correct my mistakes and ask me more: so I'll learn better)
Accusative is used like direct object and with some prepositions; for example "I have an apple": I=subject, have=tr. verb, an apple=direct object (="ich habe einen Apfel"). Only transitive verbs take direct objects.
to BE and copulative verbs (verbs with similar functions, like become, get, feel and seem) take the subject complement which is translated with the nominative case in those languages that decline their names. For example "I am Silvia": I=subject, am=copula, Silvia=subject complement. ("ich bin Silvia")
In other words: the thing that undergoes an action is declined in accusative. But in this sentence man is a description of the subject, so it takes the same case and it is declined in nominative.
I found this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_be#Indo-European Hoping it helps.
The subject complement is also called a predicative, here it is a predicative noun.
This kind of "das" is an impersonal pronoun. In English it would be "this" or "that". Gender does not matter here. It does not in English, either, as you can see when you look at the use of another impersonal pronoun: "it" or "es" in German.
Es ist ein Mann. It is a man. (It is neuter, but a man is mascluine. However, He is a man. would mean something else.)
Das ist ein Mann. This is a man.
Der ist ein Mann. This one is a man.
The translation is different "this" or "this one".
However, I'll start with the many uses of "das". There is an important distinction here. Das is not only the neuter article as in der/die/das but more. In the use as an article das is always followed by a noun (or a noun group).
Das Kind. Das kleine Kind. The child. The little child.
This kind of "das", the article, will always be translated with "the".
If "das" is not followed by a noun group, it must be pronoun.
Das ist ein Kind. (das is a general pronoun - traslated as "this" not "the") This is a child.
You can have both kinds of das in one sentence.
Das ist das Kind. (First general pronoun this, then article the) This is the child.
The general pronoun "das" ist not confined to one gender or number. It is always translated with "this" or "that"... or "these".
Das ist der Mann. Das ist die Frau. Das ist das Kind. Das sind die Männer. Das sind die Frauen. Das sind die Kinder.
This is the man. This is the woman. This is the child. This is.... [Here, we get a problem in English because "this" unlike "das" cannot be combined with plural verbs] These are men. These are women. These are children.
Aside from this general pronoun, the articles der, die, das can be turned into specific pronouns. Then der, die, das stand alone. These pronouns point to something that has been mentioned before without repeating everything. They should be translated with "the one".
Which of these men is you son? This is he/him.
Welcher dieser Männer ist ihr Sohn? Das ist er. (general pronoun)
The one in the middle?
Der in der Mitte? (specific pronoun)
This is why the translations are not the same.
Er ist ein Mann. translates to
He is a Mann.
"Das" can be an impersonal pronoun a lot like "ce" in French.
In sentences of the structure "A is B." A is the subject and B is a "predicative noun", which completes the kopula verb (to be) to a full verb that could be specified as "to be B". The word order can be switched around to "B is A." so it is not always simple to to tell which of A and B is which, subject or predicative noun. It doesn't matter so much, because both A and B are in nominative case. However, A and B do not have to agree in gender or number.
Das ist ein Mann. This is a man.
Das ist eine Frau. This a woman.
Das sind Männer. These are men. (Notice that "this are" does not work in English)
To get more comfortable with this concept you can consider "it" in English which can do the same tricks in English.
Es ist ein Mann. It is a man.
Es ist eine Frau. It is a woman.
Es sind Männer. (It are men.) doesn't quite work, but what about:
Es waren schlechte Zeiten. It were bad times.
You will probably see that there is a difference to "He is a man." "Er ist ein Mann.". These are correct sentences, too, but with a different meaning.
"Der ist ein Mann." would translate to "This one is a man."
"Das ist ein Mann." to "This is a man."
How to translate "das" depends on, if it is used as an article (determiner) or as a pronoun. A determiner is always connected to a noun, a pronoun stands alone to replace a noun.
Das as pronoun
Das ist ein Mann. Here, das stands alone followed by the verb (ist). It has to be translated with "this".
This is a Mann.
Das as article/determiner
Es ist das Kind. Das is connected to the noun Kind, here. So, it is a determiner or more specifically the definite neuter article, which translates to "the".
It is the child.
Both in one sentence
Das ist das Kind.
This is the child.
Two "this" in one sentece
This is this child. The first this is a pronoun and translates to "das". The second one is a demonstrative determiner (not a definite article) connected to the noun "child" and translates to "dieses". Das ist dieses Kind.
Dieses can also be a pronoun. The best translation then would be "this one".
Dieses ist mein Kind.
This one is my child.
Das (alone) - this
Das + noun - the + noun
Dieses (alone) - this one
Dieses + noun - this + noun
Usually, either translation will be accepted because it can mean either.
It doesn't usually matter which of those it means.
A bit like how some languages differentiate between "that thing there (close to you)" and "that thing there (far away from both me and you)" -- English treats both of them as "that" and doesn't consider the difference particularly important.
If you do want to make a distinction, you can do like English and add adverbs such as "over there" -- for example, das hier ist ein Mann versus das da ist ein Mann (literally, "that here / that there" for "this / that").
Or use the archaic English pronoun "yon" (that one over there). It's cognate to the definite article in Scandinavian languages (hinn in Icelandic and Faroese but -en in Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish when suffixed). 'Yon' at least provides a far distance compared with 'this'.
But das is used for neuter and mann is masculine
Aber das wird für Neutrum verwendet und Mann ist männlich
But das is used for neuter
When we introduce something new to the conversation in German, we always use neuter singular (das, dies) -- regardless of the thing(s) you are going to talk about or even how many of them there are!
- Das ist mein Hund. (masculine)
- Das ist seine Katze. (feminine)
- Das ist unser Pferd. (neuter)
- Das sind ihre Tiere. (plural)
I guess Der and Die also means "that".
On their own, they mean "that one".
You would use them when you have been talking about a group of objects or people and want to single out one to talk about. So it's sort of short for der [NOUN] or die [NOUN] and you know which noun goes there.
When you're not isolating one out of a group but are pointing to something new, use neuter das.
- Das ist ein Mann.
- Das ist eine Frau.
- Das ist ein Kind.
- Das sind Menschen.
I wrote das ist ein man .. just because mann you took one heart
And now you know that man and Mann are two completely different words in German!
Much like, say, a "pen" and a "pin" are not the same in English, nor a "pen" and a "pet", and "haters" are not the same as "hatters".
I imagine you're not going to forget the correct spelling of Mann in German so quickly now :)