"A duck is a bird."
Translation:Eine Ente ist ein Vogel.
Levi I faced a question today, where I was asked to translate "The cat is eating a bird". When I answered, "die Katze isst einen Vogel" it told me I am wrong and that the right answer should be "die Katze isst ein Vogel". Could you explain this case? I think I should have reported it, but alas I did not. Maybe I am just wrong here!
Because unfortunately the comments section for the German course seems to be crawling with people who haven't figured out that if they go to Germany and pull that Nazi dogwhistle stuff they WILL be punished to the fullest extent of German law, and duolingo as far as I know has no way of reporting such people.
Why is duck, Ente, female and bird, Vogel, male?
No reason. Grammatical gender does not follow logic.
Is there a quick way to look at the shape of a word and determine if male or female, ie does end in vowel equal female word and consonent end of word mean male word?
Not in general, unfortunately.
There are some suffixes that will tell you the gender (e.g. -schaft, -heit, -keit, -ung on abstract nouns are feminine) and some tendencies (e.g. words in -e are often feminine), but in general, you just have to look it up in a dictionary and memorise it.
Can anyone explain exactly why 'The' and 'A' (amongst many others) actually change? I know the 'Falls' (Wemfall, Wesfall, etc), but am interested in how this case stuff all came about, when in English we have 'the', and it never changes, although it means word order is important. And why do words have to have a gender?! It makes life so difficult! When a new item is invented or discovered, who decides what gender it will be? Is there a committee?! Just wondered!
It exists in English, but most speakers don't follow that rule, except in certain social situations. Example: (Answering the phone) "It's I", "This is she," etc. (Pointing to a photo) "That's me", "It's her," etc.
Note that this latter example isn't correct, it's just what people do. The correct form would be the predicate nominative: (Pointing to a photo) "That's I", "It's she," etc.
Some people manage to pull off the correct forms without sounding like asses, but to most people it sounds awkward. I've notices that Germans tend to use the proper forms more than Americans. (I didn't know about the Swedes.)
It depends on what you mean. If it is written, then some words change following the case, but not always. The easiest way to see the grammatical case is when the article changes (der - den or ein - einen). If what you want is to know which one to use, then you must understand the grammatical function you want to convey. In practice you may learn by repeating, after all, most Germans do not think which grammatical case to use, it is just natural.
"The boy eats the apple" can be written both "der Junge isst den Apfel" or "den Apfel isst der Junge". "The apple eats the boy" (yeah I know it sounds funny) would be "der Apfel isst den Junge" or "den Junge isst der Apfel".
Note that the accusative is used in other cases as well, for example with some prepositions ("ohne den Schlüssel", "für dich") or with expressions of time ("den ganzen Tag", "jedes Jahr"). I suppose you will see these later. The nominative, on the other hand, is always used to indicate the subject of the action. As I pointed out in another comment, with some verbs you use always nominative for both the subject and the object (like with "to be").
There are more: sein, werden, heißen, scheinen (zu sein), bleiben, gelten (als), (sich) fühlen (als), (sich) dünken (als), (sich) erweisen (als), (sich) entpuppen (als), sich glauben (als).