"I am a girl."
Translation:Ich bin ein Mädchen.
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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/
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.
:) 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.
"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."
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.