"These are horses."
Translation:Das sind Pferde.
We use neuter singular forms das or dies to introduce something new to the conversation, regardless of the gender or number of the thing(s) you are introducing.
The verb has to match the number, though -- so you can have das sind... if the things are you introducing are multiple things.
At the risk of being pedantic (or just obtuse), would diese be correct if this (the horses) was NOT something new being introduced to the conversation? And if so, how can you say that this topic was not new to the conversation? I thought that most of the sentences in duolingo were random sentences from sample conversations, in which the reader (the duolingo user) was being exposed to a snippet of the conversation. Also, to beat a dead horse (so to say, bad pun here) when a person identifies something by saying "that" or "this", it is implicit they are making a distinction and don't need to refence the not-that or not this. For example let's assume they are pointing to a car in a parking lot and saying "this in mine". I would not expect them to say, "See all the cars in the parking lot (pointing to all the other cars), those are not mine. This is mine." (pointing to car) If the duolingo german instructors are trying to make the point (about the above stated german grammar principle), I think the user would learn/understand this better if contextual information were supplied. In this particular case, (just like in the stories), a single sentence like "Hans approaches his friend Karl who has just gotten out of his car", and says, "Das sind Pferde!" Again, if diese sind Pferde is never correct, then I have missed the point. Thanks for tolerating this post!
would diese be correct if this (the horses) was NOT something new being introduced to the conversation?
diese would be correct if you are talking about one sub-group of a larger group that you had already been talking about before.
For example. In unserem Zoo gibt es viele Tiere. Diese sind Pferde, diese sind ... "In our zoo, there are many animals. These ones are horses, these ones are ..."
diese then stands implicitly for diese Tiere -- referring back to the group "animals" that you had discussed before. You might use "these ones" for that in English.
When you are introducing something new to the conversation, you use neuter singular terms: das or dies.
This is true regardless of the gender of the new item(s) or even of how many there are -- so dies sind could be "this is" or "these are".
die sind would be something like "these ones are" -- referring not to something new but to a subset of things that you had already spoken about and where you know what kind of noun you are referring to.
For example, if you had spoken about a specific group of animals and now wanted to focus on a particular subset of them and say that "these ones (= these animals) are horses", you could say Diese/Die (= diese Tiere/die Tiere) sind Pferde.
Yes, dies is neuter singular -- that is the form we use to introduce something new, regardless of the gender and number of thing(s) that we are introducing.
Dies ist ein Hund. (masculine), Dies ist eine Katze. (feminine), Dies ist ein Pferd. (neuter), Dies sind Tiere. (plural)
Similarly with Das ist ein Hund. Das ist eine Katze. Das ist ein Pferd. Das sind Tiere.
What is wrong with "Diese sind Pferde" as the translation of "These are horses"?
That it's not a translation of that sentence. It means "These ones are horses" -- i.e. referring to a particular sub-group of a specific group you had been discussing before.
If you are introducing a new topic by "pointing" to it with "this, that, these, those", use neuter singular in German: Dies sind Pferde.
are they completely interchangeable?
No. dies can only mean "this/these" while das can mean both "that/those" and "this/these".
So for something far away, you can't use dies.
For something close by, you can use either.
And if you don't want to worry about the exact position, you can simply always use das.
In general, not in this sentence, which is a correct German word: dies or diese?
Both of them are correct German words.
dies refers to something unspecified (to introduce it to the conversation: "this, these"), while diese can be used:
- on its own to refer to one particular feminine item out of a group of feminine items that have been previously discussed ("this one")
- on its own to refer to several items out of a larger group of items that have been previously discussed ("these ones")
- before a feminine or plural noun ("this ...", "these ...")
A correct German sentence, but not a correct translation of the English one.
You wrote "They are horses" rather than "These are horses" -- you used a personal pronoun (referring back to something previously mentioned) rather than a demonstrative pronoun (which can introduce something new).
Context and practice.
"that" in English also has several meanings (e.g. the two different ones in "He said that that horse is fast").
When das is before a noun, it can mean either "the" or "that" -- you can hear the difference in speech (das is stressed when it means "that" but not when it means "the") but you can't see it in writing; then only context can help. (On Duolingo, typically both translations will be acceptable.)
In a context such as Das ist..., it's "that is...", while Das sind ... means "those are ...". (Or Das ist ... = this is ...; Das sind ... = these are ...; since German doesn't distinguish between "that" and "this" so strongly -- but if in doubt, stick to "that" and "those" respectively, choosing between those two depending on the verb and the subject.)
Kann man "these" nicht auch mit "dies" übersetzen? Also "Dies sind Pferde"
Yes, of course. As was discussed three years ago already on this page: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/23894435?comment_id=23894436
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