"Ist" as "are"

I know "ist" means "is", but I've seen it used as "are" as well. Example: "Uns ist" (we are), but "wir sind" also means "we are". Can anyone help clarify the difference?

September 11, 2017


In the case of "uns ist", "uns" is not the subject of the sentence. This is why the verb can be singular whereas the pronoun "uns", which is dative in the following example, is plural.

An example:

Uns ist ein Geschenk gebracht worden.

(We were given a present; someone brought us a present; difficult to translate).

In this case, "ein Geschenk", singular, is the subject of the sentence; it's in nominative, and therefore, the verb has to conform to the singular.

If the subject was plural, then the verb would have to be plural, too:

Uns sind Blumen gebracht worden.

In the case of "wir sind", the plural pronoun "wir" is the subject because it is nominative, and therefore, the verb has to be plural.

Example: Wir sind die Duolingo-Fans!

September 11, 2017

A much simpler example:

"Uns ist kalt" means "we are cold".

German uses a different construct for expressing this. Litterally it means "to us (it) is cold" - that is why it is "ist" and not "sind", because "we"/"uns" is the object, not the subject.

September 11, 2017

As well as the more specific help you've received: one of the things you really need to let go of is assuming that there will always be a one-to-one correlation between words in two languages. That is a guaranteed way to confuse and frustrate yourself, because it's not how languages work.

September 11, 2017
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