1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. "I am a girl."

"I am a girl."

Translation:Ich bin ein Mädchen.

February 26, 2013

80 Comments
This discussion is locked.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Blagoj88

Ich bin eine Madchen????? Why ein, not eine??? Eine is for femiluar, or not???


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/marziotta

All the words ending with diminutives like "chen" or "lein" are neuter... German is so difficult! :D


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/onyxninja

Ok probably a stupid question but what exactly is a diminutive?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ArielPrez

A suffix added to a word that makes it refer to something little. In spanish, there's auto (car) and autito (little car). There, 'ito' is the diminutive. I think there aren't any in english.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nancy.roem

Yes there are some in English-many borrowed from other languages. For instance duckling is a baby duck. A nice article is here:http://www.dailywritingtips.com/50-diminutive-suffixes-and-a-cute-little-prefix/


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yordisko

In Spanish you can make a diminutive most of the words, but no all of them make sense "autito" is one of those


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lital-R

According to that logic, what "Mad" means without the "chen"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

It's not used by itself in German any more, but it meant something like "girl" -- compare the English words "maid" and "maiden" which also refer to (young) women.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rina.jerez

thanks! didn't know "chen" was diminutive :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Clbull

So that means 'das' (as in 'das Mädchen') is neutral/plural and not just plural, or is it far more confusing than that?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

das in das Mädchen is neuter.

In the plural, it would be die Mädchen (the girls).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JamesMcDow

So it is "eine frau" and "ein fraulein"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katherle

Yes, exactly. It's "eine Frau" (feminine) and "ein Fräulein" (neuter). "Fräulein" (literally: little woman, i.e. Miss) is neuter because it ends in the diminutive suffix "-lein".

Note that the word "Fräulein" has become old-fashioned in the past two decades; nowadays, both married and unmarried women are referred to as "Frau", e.g. "Das ist Frau Maier" (That is Ms. Maier). Today, the word "Fräulein" is sometimes still used when people are scolding very young girls, though.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rita625423

Reading thru these responses today you brought a smile to my face with your use of Ms. Maier. That was my maiden name and I have seldom encountered that spelling elsewhere.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katherle

:) Yes, there are many different spellings (Maier, Mayer, Meyer, Meier ...). It's one of the most common German surnames. For the spelling "Maier" alone, there are 36,970 entries in the German telephone directory.

http://www.verwandt.de/karten/absolut/maier.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_most_common_surnames_in_Germany#List_of_the_most_common_surnames_in_Germany


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lebasp

When should I use das, der and die?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AgenTsi

"Der, das, die" and "ein, eine" are used depending on the gender of the word. Masculine words take "der" and "ein." Neuter words take "das" and "ein." Feminine words take "die" and "eine." Plurals are always "die" or omitted (no article is used).

Note that the gender of the word does not have to match the gender of the object the word means. Girl, Mädchen, is neuter because of the ending of the word, -chen is always neuter and so it takes the definite article "das." Likewise, newspaper, Zeitung, is feminine because the ending -ung is always feminine and so it takes "die."

http://www.learn-german-smarter.com/learn-german-articles.html


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkJohnes

So any plural is using féminin instead of masculin... I love deutsch


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

No. Plural articles are not always the same as feminine articles.

Don't think of plural nouns as being feminine.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wirelyre

Why do we use the article here? When identifying occupation or nationality (Ich bin Musiker/Ich bin Deutscher) we don't use an article, right? Is this a quirk of "Mädchen" or is there a larger class of words for which an article should be used?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katherle

Normally, singular countable nouns are accompanied by an article. As you said, there are some exceptions and one of them pertains to nouns that indicate occupation, geographical origins, religion or political and ideological affiliations. Words such as girl, boy, man or woman do not belong to this special group, so they are accompanied by an article.

http://www.canoo.net/services/OnlineGrammar/Wort/Artikel/Gebrauch/Ohne.html?lang=en#Anchor-Angabe-14210

PS: Even within the exceptional group of nouns I mentioned, an article can be used in some contexts. For example, "Er ist Clown" means that he works as a clown, whereas "Er ist ein Clown" means that he is like a clown, i.e. he likes fooling around. For this reason, Kennedy's famous statement "Ich bin ein Berliner" was grammatically correct and not misunderstood by Germans at the time. He did not literally come from Berlin, but wanted to express his solidarity with the citizens of Berlin after the Berlin Wall had been built.

In some regions of Germany, the word "Berliner" does not only refer to a person from Berlin, but also to a kind of doughnut. The story goes that by adding an article, Kennedy inadvertently said "I am a doughnut" instead of "I am a person from Berlin". This story is a myth that did not originate in Germany. Hardly any Germans know about it.

See also: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/did-jfk-say-he-was-a-doughnut_n_3500307.html


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wirelyre

Thanks! I should have known there would be a relevant page on canoonet. Seems that I had the exceptional cases and the normal cases confused. This is also a satisfying explanation of Kennedy's statement (which I think has been discussed for grammar in every German class in the US).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katherle

That's where I first came across it :) (I spent some weeks in the US as an exchange student). I can see why German teachers in America like to tell this story, but that doesn't make it true. It's a bit as if the American president had come to New York after 9/11 and said: "Today, I am a New Yorker. " Imagine that Germans would tell you how hilarious they found the whole situation because the American president said he was a magazine.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/giuliaholland

Why is it 'ein', not 'einen'? I would assume the latter because 'das' is neuter but then again German is weird.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/payskin

Exactly! Why is it not 'einen'? And then, what is 'einen' for? :)

[30 minutes later] according to Wikipedia, 'einen' is the "masculine accusative" form of the indefinite article. So it is a trap in the translation help/tooltip, and we walked into it. :-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TrevorKafk

What is the accusative form of eine?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/justme5155

I agree, isn't Mädchen the direct object? So wouldn't it be einen?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katherle

1.) No, it's not the direct object; it's a so-called predicate noun. Predicate nouns occur after verbs such as "sein" (to be) and "werden" (to become).

I hit a girl. ("A girl" is the direct object, it's the "victim" of the action. The subject (=I) and the direct object (= a girl) are two different people.)

I am a girl. ("A girl" is a predicate noun. The subject (= I) and the predicate noun (= a girl) are one and the same person.)

In German, the nominative case is used for the subject and for predicate nouns.

2.) For almost all direct objects, the accusative case is used in German.

Indefinite articles (=a/an)

Masculine nouns: ein (nominative); einen (accusative)

Feminine nouns: eine (nominative and accusative)

Neuter nouns: ein (nominative and accusattive)

The word "Mädchen" (girl) is grammatically neuter, so even if it were the direct object (accusative case), the article would still be "ein". "Einen" is only used with masculine nouns.

http://www.vistawide.com/german/grammar/german_cases_nominative.htm

http://www.canoo.net/services/OnlineGrammar/InflectionRules/FRegeln-Art/Art-Indef.html?MenuId=Word621


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BrianBarto4

how do you tell if a word is nueter?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

You just have to learn it. Look up new words in a dictionary to determine their gender.

Grammatical gender is, in general, not logical -- you can't tell the gender of most words just by looking at them.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Erika5757

I can type an umlaut on my computer but not when I am using the phone app. I get it correct but with a note about being xareful about accents. How do I type the umlaut?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

On a phone, try long-pressing the a o u s keys and you should get a pop-up that shows accented versions of those letters, including ä ö ü ß -- then slide your finger over onto the correct accented version before letting go.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zach432363

What's the difference between Madchen and madchen?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Neither of them are German words.

The word for "girl" is Mädchen -- capital M at the beginning followed by ä with dots.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

"a girl" in German is ein Mädchen -- the article is ein (because Mädchen is grammatically neuter), and the word Mädchen starts with a capital M (capitalised because it's a noun) and an ä (and if you can't write ä, write ae instead of a).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SS831U

How do I make accents?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

If you're using the website, there should be buttons with accented letters underneath the text entry field.

If you're using the mobile app, you should be able to make accented letters by long-pressing the base letter, e.g. long-press a to get ä (and á à ã ...), and long-press s to get ß.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GokselD

I am not a master of German but wasn't it eine Mädchen? If I'm not correct please enlight me.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

wasn't it eine Mädchen?

No. The word Mädchen is grammatically neuter, so it has to be ein Mädchen.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/stopkale2019

When do you use "bist" versus "bin" to refer to the subject? I notice for "Frau", it uses both depending on the sentence. Help me, please!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

When do you use "bist" versus "bin" to refer to the subject?

Depends on the subject.

ich bin = I am

du bist = you are

er ist, sie ist, es ist = he/she/it is

wir sind = we are

ihr seid = you are - several people

sie sind = they are

So use bist when the subject is du and use bin when the subject is ich.


[deactivated user]

    I thought eine was for feminine like girl


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    I thought eine was for feminine

    That is correct.

    But "feminine" is a grammatical concept -- it applies to a particular group of nouns.

    Many nouns referring to female humans are grammatically feminine, but it's not 1:1 -- there are feminine nouns that refer to things that are not female (e.g. die Gabel "the fork", or die Person, which can refer to any person), and there are non-feminine nouns that refer to female humans (e.g. das Mädchen "the girl" is grammatically neuter).

    Grammatical gender attaches to words, not to concepts -- you can have synonyms that have different genders, e.g. das Stadtzentrum (neuter) or die Stadtmitte (feminine) for "the city center".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Colin916406

    How do i put the accents over the a in maidchen.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    How do i put the accents over the a in maidchen.

    If you're on a PC, there should be accented letters underneath the space where you enter text.

    If you're on a mobile device, try long-pressing the a o u s keys to get accented versions of those letters, including ä ö ü ß.

    If all else fails, you can replace ä ö ü ß with ae oe ue ss and write das schoene Maedchen for das schöne Mädchen, etc.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BoltzoDrag

    Why does it count as wrong, when I use a regular a for Madchen?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katherle

    Because "a" and "ä" represent different sounds in German and replacing them can change the meaning of a word completely. "Mädchen" means "girl", whereas "Madchen" would mean something like "little maggot" (kleine Made).

    Similarly, to many Germans, the English words "bad", "bat", "bed" and "bet" all sound more or less the same. Yet in English they have different sounds and very different meanings. What people regard as essential sound differences ("phonemes") varies from language to language.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KarenDowns3

    I have not figured out how to get the umlaut on my keyboard ...I do this on my Kindle. I have tried to change my language settings to German for this Duolingo but it does not "take" so I will always get it wrong too...although I know I am right!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    KarenDowns3: if you cannot type ä ö ü ß, you can use ae oe ue ss, respectively.

    For example, das grosse, schoene Maedchen instead of das große, schöne Mädchen.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gerald146823

    I thought we were supposed to stay away from using indefinite articles in front of nouns, because that was how Kennedy declared he was a doughnut. "Ich bin ein Berliner." (As opposed to being a citizen of Berlin.)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    I thought we were supposed to stay away from using indefinite articles in front of nouns, because that was how Kennedy declared he was a doughnut. "Ich bin ein Berliner."

    Nonsense. What Kennedy said was fine.

    And anyway, the rule about being able to leave out an indefinite article is about professions and roles -- not all nouns.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ChitraSelv

    How do u choose between das and ein?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katherle

    Ich bin das Mädchen. = I am the girl.

    Ich bin ein Mädchen. = I am a girl.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HAYLEYDALY

    Because Das is the definite article, ein is the indefinite article.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkJohnes

    What is the difference between Mädchen and maid


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katherle

    The two words are closely related historically, but today, the translation of "Mädchen" is "girl".

    "Mädchen" normally does not refer to a female domestic servant (the current meaning of "maid"), and in modern English, the words "maid" or "maiden" are not used to talk about girls anymore.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/devika_singh

    I thought eine is used for femine but eine is not given!!!!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katherle

    Yes, the article "eine" is used for feminine nouns. However, "Mädchen" is not a feminine, but a neuter (!) noun and thus gets the article "ein". The reason for this is that it ends in the suffix -chen, which means "little". Originally, the word "Mädchen" meant "little maid". All nouns ending in the suffix -chen are automatically neuter.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kronax

    So if Mädchen is the diminutive, what original word does it come from?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katherle

    die Magd (the maid)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/just_fabiola

    How do I put the little dots on top of a letter when I have an English keyboard?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HAYLEYDALY

    I am assuming you are referring to a keyboard on your phone? In that case, press really hard on 'a', for example, and a little box with accented letters should come up. Move your finger along to the right where ä is.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/.-Anne-.

    Press And Hold To Make A Special Character


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Oreocookie

    what dose it mean to be diminutive? whats so significant?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AgenTsi

    Diminutive means small. In English, the ending -let makes a noun diminutive. Piglet means small pig and owlet means young owl, etc.

    In German, the -chen ending modifies nouns to be smaller. It is significant because diminutives in German are always neuter. Mädchen is a neuter word because it is a diminutive, not because girls are not fully grown women.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/17101988

    Why...Das Maadchen?why not die Maadchen..this is a girl not a Man or boy?!! Why ein,not eine?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leila.hb

    u can find ur anwer in the first reply to the first comment


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/81george123

    I call A teen girl (Fraulein).


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katherle

    "Fräulein" means "miss", i.e. it was used as an address for an unmarried woman independent of her age. This usage has been dated for several decades, and both married and unmarried women are now addressed as "Frau", e.g. "Frau Schmidt" (Mrs./Ms. Smith).

    Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.