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Ein vs. Einen

What is the difference between "ein" and "einen"? As in lesson 2 "ein Apfel" and "einen Apfel."

December 20, 2011



It's "ein Apfel" when it's a subject and "einen Apfel" when it's an object. An apple is round. = Ein Apfel ist rund. I want an appel. = Ich will einen Apfel.


So in the sentence "This man has a horse", should it be ein Pferd or einen Pferd?


i'm pretty sure it should be ein Pferd since it is the object and possessive of der Mann. Pferd has a neutral gender as well so ein doesn't really change unlike masculine words like der Hund und der Apfel which will always change depending on whether it is Nominativ, Akkusativ, Dativ or Genitiv i believe!


Pferd is a neuter noun, so it's: "Das Mann hat ein Pferd"


Shouldn't that be "Der Mann"? :)


True, it's der mann Follow me bitte (I need one more follow)


i thought when the word begins with a vowel we use einen an when it starts witha consonant we use eine isn't this true ?


No. It has nothing to do with pronunciation.


Thank you! I was so confused


It's all about the case of the noun. In German there are the Nominativ, Akkusativ, Dativ and Genitiv cases. Here is a good explanation of the four cases in German http://german.about.com/library/blcase_sum.htm


Almost identical to Latin.


Also such grammatical cases exist in Russian, Ukrainian and other Slavic languages. We have even more than 4 cases (Ukrainian - 7, Russian - 6).

Nouns and adjectives change extensively its endings and suffixes depending on grammatical case, however there are no articles, which makes it a little bit easier)


Hello, the problem with learning German grammar such as the Normative,Accusative, Dative and Genitive is that when as a beginner and trying to speak German, you do not have time to check which is the correct case to use when speaking. Sure grammar is important but we should not focus too much on grammar at the expense of more important aspects of learning German


And why is "Leist du ein Buch?" instead of "Leist du einen Buch?". I think book is the object


As I understand it, Buch carries a neuter grammatical gender. Das Buch. The neuter indefinite article is 'ein' for both nominative and accusative forms.


The form of the indefinite article (a,an) is determined by the case, the gender of the noun, and the number of the noun. If you look at the table at the bottom of http://www.german-database.supanet.com/page6.html you can see exactly which form to use. So for apple (masculine), if the apple is the subject of the sentence, you use the Nominative row and the masculine column and you get "ein Apfel ist rot". If apple is in the accusative (usually the direct object of the verb) then you use the Accusative row and the masculine column to arrive at "Ich esse einen Apfel".


Unfortunately, the website is now defunct.


thank you for spamming us with that bad url...


The original comment was posted seven years ago, if the website is down by now, that's no fault on the OP's part.


Ok I missed it was a neuter name. I'm still having difficulties determining the gender of the words


Ein = Nominative (Subject); Einen = Accusative (Object)


Wow this was posted 4 years ago!


And now 7! wow!:)


And it's still useful after all this time!


The German database on Supranet mentioned by AndrewCorby sounds like it would have been helpful, but it's gone. Did anybody find something like this elsewhere?


More examples for the cases mentioned in this thread:

Ein Auto fährt schnell. (Das Auto; the car)
Ein Fahrrad fährt schnell. (Das Fahrrad; the bike)
Ein Bus fährt schnell. (Der Bus; the bus)
Ein Zug fährt schnell. (Der Zug; the train)
Eine Straßenbahn fährt schnell. (Die Straßenbahn; the tram)

Ich fahre ein Auto. (Das Auto)
Ich fahre ein Fahrrad. (Das Fahrrad)
Ich fahre einen Bus. (Der Bus)
Ich fahre einen Zug. (Der Zug)
Ich fahre eine Straßenbahn. (Die Straßenbahn)


It's because "das Buch" (neuter) has a different grammatical gender from "der Apfel" (masculine). Take a look at the website Andrew posted. The very last chart is relevant here.


in the duolingo examples, there is the sentence "we have a cat and a dog" which is translated to german as "wir haben eine katze und einen hund" (4th case both - eine + einen, not eine + ein 1st case) but the sentence with "der haustier" which is "we have a pet" is "wir haben ein haustier" - both haustier and hund are "der", sho WHY is there a difference in having a dog and having a pet expressed in einen Hund and ein haustier???


ok, i found out that the haustier is das, not der, which was completely unclear because both hund and haustier are ein hund and ein haustier. i wish there was any way to know which ein means masculine and which ein means not masculine.


also kind of sad that this very important information is not displayed here and is even hard to find in the dictionaries :(


German Gramatik is not easy.


put it simple, that's the nominativ (Subject of the sentence) and Akkusativ (direct complement of the sentence), both in Masculin form. Example:

ein hund spaß macht mit einen man.

ein hund -> masculin subject (can be neutrum, duno), hence EIN einen man -> masculin direct complement, hence EINEN

Check out Nominativ und Akkusativ Artikels

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