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"My friends and I could not decide."

Translation:Meine Freunde und ich konnten uns nicht entscheiden.

March 4, 2013



Why is the "uns" needed?


I am a German native speaker. It makes a difference of the meaning if you use "uns" or not in this sentence.

"Wir konnten uns nicht entscheiden." means that you were not able to find a decision because you did not find out which option would be better.

"Wir konnten nicht entscheiden." means that someone did not let you decide. You only had one option. Another way to express that in German ist "Wir hatten keine Wahl."


Super, Danke! then, i world point out that for anyone studying or knowing French, it would be exactly the same as "se décider" and "décider"


And for anyone studying spanish it would be "no pudimos decidir" vs "no pudimos decidirnos"


Nie mogliśmy zdecydować vs Nie mogliśmy się zdecydować?


So without more context either could be a valid translation of the English sentence?

  • 1965

Possibly. But given that the suggested translation is far more likely in real-life situations, I actually like the fact that Duolingo made me stop and read this discussion. Had it let me sail through, I would have almost certainly not paused to read this and would not learn the difference.


Thanks ! I learned something:

no object: "to decide" = "sich entscheiden"

object without preposition: "to decide s.th." = "etwas entscheiden"

object with 'on' or 'against' or 'in favour of' = "sich entscheiden"

object with 'about' = "etwas entscheiden"


no object: "to decide" = "sich entscheiden"
object with 'against' or 'in favour of' = "sich gegen oder für etwas entscheiden"
object with 'on', 'about' or without preposition = "etwas entscheiden" or "über etwas entscheiden"
Or is there a difference between 'decide on' and 'decide about' in English?


The difference between "decide on" and "decide about" isn't major, but "decide on" is often used to mean "choose" (e.g., "decide on a color"), whereas "decide about" is typically more general, and is often rephrased to "make a decision about". (However, it's not that we can't also say "make a decision on". These are just tendencies.)


Thank you!

to choose a colour/to decide on a colour=eine Farbe (aus)wählen, sich für eine Farbe entscheiden
to make a decision about X/to decide about X=über/bezüglich X eine Entscheidung treffen, über X entscheiden (last one can also have other meanings)


Danke schon. I think for English speakers that the dual meaning of "could" is the problem. "Could" means "allowed or permitted" (= no sich = someone or something else is the motivating factor) or "could" means "capable of" (=with sich = we did it ourselves)?


The problem with that is there is no context in the sentence for which meaning for "decide" is implied.


Ok. So "uns" introduces a reflexive form of the verb, if I may say so. Thanks a lot.

  • 1982

That is the only correct explanation


3 years and no answer. Shame


I'll take a crack, non native speaker.

It's not needed, it's just making "entscheiden" reflexive so emphasizing deciding "for ourselves"


From ArmasUkko's (now 3-year-old) comment it sounds as though it is indeed necessary, but I think you're right about the general sense of it.


Just a guess, but I think that when there is no object of the verb "entscheiden", as in this case, then the reflexive pronoun is used to, in effect, provide an object. When there is an object describing what is being decided then there is no need for the reflexive pronoun.


As a non-native Speaker, i would say yes, though I'm still waiting for someone correcting me. Maybe sentences like "Ich wasche mich,", the 'wasche' is added 'mich' in front of it since it is reflexive, which may be the same as 'entscheiden'.


Ach. Danke.


Because entscheiden is a reflexive verb, meaning that whenever it is used in a sentence, it has to use a reflexive pronoun. I could explain better how it works, but this should give you an idea about reflexive verbs.


But when you say: 'Sie konnten nicht entscheiden, ob sie ins Kino gehen wollen', there is no 'sich' needed.


'Sie konnten nicht entscheiden, ob sie ins Kino gehen wollen.' means that they were obliged to go to the cinema. They were not allowed or made possible to decide.

'Sie konnten sich nicht entscheiden, ob sie ins Kino gehen wollen.' is also correct, but it means, that they were not sure, which option would be better, if it would be more fun, to go to the cinema, or to do anything else.


Just think of that 'uns' as 'ourselves' in english. If it isn't used in the sentence then think of it as though you weren't aloud to decide.

E.g My friends and I could not decide amongst ourselves


The infinitive is "sich entscheiden". "sich" is inflected with the accusativ or dative of the personal pronoun, with exception of the third person, where it is only "sich". This type of verbs is called "Reflexive Verben", which means that normally the action done by the subject effects the subject. There are quite many of them in German and it's impossible to avoid them. If you need accusative or dative, depends on the verb in question. In this example "Meine Freunde und ich" is first person plural, so the pronoun is "uns" (accusative and dative).


Would it be the dative or accusative in this case. If it was just ich, would it be "Ich könnte mich nicht entscheiden" or would it be with mir?


I believe it would be accusative. The reason is that reflexive verbs take the accusative if they are referring to oneself, and the dative if they are referring to another object in the sentence. For example:

Ich wasche mich - accusative, direct object is "mich" or "myself"

Ich wasche mir die Hände - dative, direct object is not myself, but my hands so i am the indirect object (and therefore dative "mir")

This link may help if you're still stuck: http://www.nthuleen.com/teach/grammar/reflexexpl.html


Is there a COMPLETE list of reflexive verbs and nouns ?

Is there a skill in Duolingo like this ?


I'm absoultely disappointed that Duo didn't put this Reflexive Verb in the tips & notes.

On the previous excercises, there is this question "Sie drueckt mir die Hand" which means "She pushes my hand". Since I've read JCobbles' link, I've known that parts of the body or item of clothing is named, it will be reflexive in the dative. But before that, I thought it was just an idiom or the other translation of "Sie drueckt meine Hand".

If Duo reminded me about this earlier or since I started coming across reflexive verbs questions like this in the tips & notes, I would have been typing it down on my notebook or something. But since I've learned so many verbs, it's like going back to the beginning as I don't know which verb belongs to reflexive dative or reflexive accusative. I also peeked on the Genitive case excercise. I was expecting to see the tips & notes on explaining it. But it turned out that there was no tips & notes at all in the excercise .

I feel that the tips & notes is useless.


Actually, there is no reflexive verb in the sentence, "Sie drückt mir die Hand." You can tell that the verb is not reflexive because the pronoun "mir" refers to someone other than the subject of the verb, "Sie". If the verb were reflexive, the sentence would have to be, "Sie drückt sich die Hand." That sentence doesn't make any sense, though, because "sich drücken" (as a reflexive verb) means "to chicken out" or "to inconspicuously retreat". Normally if I heard that sentence, though, I would assume that the verb is not being used reflexively and that "sich" is simply an object of the verb "drücken"; in that case, it would mean "She squeezes her hand."

In "Sie drückt mir die Hand", it's clear that the verb "drücken" simply takes a dative object (non-reflexively). The meaning of that sentence is usually closer to "She squeezes my hand."


And "Meine Freunde und ich" could be said as "wir", as long as the listener knows the subject.


"sich" is perhaps part of the lemma, but it's not part of the infinitive. Infinitives are single words.


It wasn't my downvote, but that strikes me as based on an arbitrary definition, and not a very useful distinction here. "Infinitives" in languages with pronominal or reflexive verbs are typically listed with the pronoun attached. Whether that makes the pronoun "part" of the infinitive or not is... pointless to discuss in the present context? Most people don't even know or care what a lemma is (though personally I like that you brought it up).

In English we have the "to-infinitive" and the "bare infinitive" (which I've also seen called the "zero-infinitive"). The former is composed of two words – or, to boldly venture into an equally questionable line of inquiry, is it a single word split into two parts? We can split hairs, but let's do it where it matters.


I am a bit confused..There are sentences in this exercise where the verb entscheiden doesn't come with a reflexive pronoun. For example: ''Ich muss zwischen diesen zwei Farben entscheiden.''


Sich entscheiden is usually without an object and means to make a decision or to make up one's mind.

Entscheiden without sich means more "to distinguish" or "to resolve" and usually needs an object or zwischen or dass.


So just to clarify, would I need to include "mir" in something like, "Ich musste mir entscheiden." ?


For first person, use "mich." Ich muss mich entscheiden. (I have to make a decision.) Ich musste mich entscheiden. (I had to make a decision.) Wie soll ich mich entscheiden? (How should I decide?)


For example: ''Ich muss [mich] zwischen diesen zwei Farben entscheiden.''

That is an interesting sentence. For me as a native speaker it makes no difference if you use "mich" in this sentence or not. Both is correct and even the meaning is the same.


should it be "konnten" or "könnten" ? I am a bit confused about the difference or there is not difference at all


I asked this question recently and received a great answer. I'm sorry I can't direct you to it, specifically, but I'll do my best to answer.

konnten is past tense (were able [or were not able]), e.g., We couldn't do anything for her. Wir konnten nichts für sie tun.

könnten is conditional (present or future--are able [or are not able]), e.g., We could go into the restaurant [if you want to]. Wir könnten in das Restaurant gehen.

I hope it helps. ☺


it does, thank you


Shouldn't "Freundinnen" be accepted also?


Oh that's why I didn't understand what error I made here. Duolingo makes the error.


Entscheiden can be reflexive or not. Given that there is no context for this sentence, both answers (either "sich entscheiden" or simply "entscheiden") should be allowed, otherwise the skill consists of you guessing what was in the mind of the person who thought out this sentence.


Wouldn't be better "could not make up our minds"?

[deactivated user]

    I thought it had to be "meine Freunden". Looking it up, I am still not convinced meine Freunde is the correct form. I assume we're dealing with the nominative here but all plural forms in the mixed inflection end with -en according to Duolingo's list. What's up with that?


    You are thinking of the -en endings for adjectives. Although there are other nouns that end in -en in the nominative plural, "Freunde" is the correct nominative plural form for the noun "Freund".

    For a quick reference: http://www.germanveryeasy.com/noun-declension


    'Meine Freunde und ich konnten nicht entscheiden'.should be accepted too


    Difference between können and konnten ?


      See Janneine's answer on this page.

      They are the same verb just in different forms: können is the infinitive and konnten is simple past.


      Thanks, Jussel 11!


      Has anyone found a good way to memorize the perfect tense conjugations? It's significantly more difficult for me in perfect tense, since my brain thinks I've already accomplished it by knowing the present tense conjugation AND to a lesser degree, the imperfect.


      "sagen" is a nice an regular verb.

      Ich sage
      Du sagst
      Er sagt
      Wir sagen
      Ihr sagt
      Sie sagen

      Präteritum (some also call it Imperfekt)
      Ich sagte
      Du sagtest
      Er sagte
      Wir sagten
      Ihr sagtet
      Sie sagten

      Ich habe gesagt
      Du hast gesagt
      Er hat gesagt
      Wir haben gesagt
      Ihr habt gesagt
      Sie haben gesagt

      I believe Perfekt is not so difficult since it is "Präsens of 'haben' + Partizip II".
      Maybe you have problems with the conjugation in Präteritum? It is somehow "-te-"+"suffix in Präsens". Not the same but similar.


        Please read the top comments - they answer this already.


        Uns.....We could not decide for ourselves .


        "We could not decide for ourselves." = "Wir konnten nicht selber entscheiden." (We were not allowed to/It was not possible to decide ourselves.)


        if in case we were allowed to decide or were it possible to decide ourselves then would it be, wir konnten fuer uns selbst entscheiden?

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