"Those are good men."
Translation:Das da sind gute Männer.
I am extremely confused here. I looked in all the 5 grammar books I have and cannot find an explanation about, e.g., why it cannot be "Diese sind ..." or "Die sind...". To my understanding, "das" and "dieses" here are demonstrative pronouns. According to my books, demonstrative pronouns have a declination, also in the nominative case.
So, first question: when one would use the nominative of thee pronouns for other gender than Neuter? Only in sentences like: "Gute Männer sind diese." (i.e. nominative that are not subjects but only attribute)?
Also, the main difference in usage between der/die/das/die and dieser/deise/dieses/diese according to my books is that dies- should be used when the pronouns refers to something that has already been mentioned. Although I could understand the form "Das sind..." in the sens that one has not defined yet what one is talking about (although if one pushes the reasoning to the end, why not then "Das IST gute Männer"? - So it is not so consistent already... but, anyway, let's admit it). Why still in the case of "dies-" can't one use "diese" here, since what it stands for should have normally already been mentioned and is then not anymore undefined?
Thanks to whom can explain, and if one had a source/link I could refer to that would be great.
I am extremely confused here. I looked in all the 5 grammar books I have and cannot find an explanation about, e.g., why it cannot be "Diese sind ..." or "Die sind...".
You are applying the logic of English language (this is / these are) to German. It just does not work this way. Why not just remember: this/that is = das ist, these/those are = das sind (more rarely "dies" is used instead of "das"). It does not even require knowing what demonstrative pronouns are ;-) I'd suggest to remember this as a phrase and avoid comparing with another "das" that is a definite neuter article.
Languages are different and you can't explain everything with logic. How about Russian where for "this is", "that is", "these are" and "those are" you will just say "это" (eto)? :-)
Sorry if this is not exactly an answer to your questions, but I believe it is more important to know how to use specific words and phrases rather than knowing why they are so and not so. If you have any questions about choosing correct pronouns in specific situations, I'll be glad to help if I can.
Thanks for your answer olimo. I perfectly understand that each language has its specificities and illogical sides. Concerning your last remark, you could indeed help in the following. A native speaker just wrote to me, talking about political parties (die Parteien): "Die sind alle verlogen" - "Those have all been eliminated".. I guess one could have also written there: "Diese sind alle verlogen" (but please correct me if I am wrong). So now, couldn't one similarly write here: "Die/diese sind alle gute Parteien" - "Those are all good parties"? And if not, what differs between "Die sind alle verlogen" and "Die sind alle gute Parteien"? Thank you very much for the help!
As far as I understand, here "die" is used instead of "sie" (they) and is somewhat colloquial. I may be mistaken, though.
My version of using "das" vs "die/diese" is that "das" introduces things or people that have not been discussed before while "die/diese" refer to already discussed things or people. Normally, in situations like you are learning in this lesson, you just use "das" to name things or people: Das ist ein Baum, Das ist meine Mutter, Das sind ihre Kinder, etc. Note that you use nouns to hame objects or people: Das ist/sind [a noun construction]. In cases when you refer to something you told about before, you can contract phrases like "diese Parteien" to "diese" or "die".
This is only my understanding. To be sure, let us wait for native speakers' comments.
"Dies" and "diese" are not half as useful in German as "This" and "These" in English. You can express yourself perfectly well without ever using these.
There are some typical mistakes by which you can hear where somebody comes from: e.g. Germans in English by not being able to distiguish between "v" and "w".
Constant use of "dies" is very typical for Anglosaxons trying to speak German - where a native German speaker would just say "das" or another definite article with a bit of emphasis on it.
"This is quite difficult" = "Das ist richtig schwer"
"I saw this coming" = "Das habe ich kommen sehen"
"That is the question" = "Das ist die Frage"
"What on earth is this" = "Was um Himmels willen ist das?"
In all these examples "dies" would sound odd.
You can (but you needn't) use "diese" after you have done some definite sampling - so the last sentence could be: "In allen diesen Beispielen würde "dies" komisch klingen."
But you can just as well say: "In all den Beispielen hier würde "dies" komisch klingen.
So until you are very, very proficient in German, avoiding "dies" altogether is an excellent strategy. And please, never ever use "jene" until you have finished your doctorate in theological philosophy.
"Menschen" is more general, like saying people; "Mensch" is man as in a human (or mankind), so it is not actually a gender specific term.
"Mann" and "Frau" are gender specific.
(I remember this distinction not really making sense to me at first, since in English there is a tendency to use the word man more or less interchangeably for the two concepts.)
"jene" is really only used in formal written German. Usually, German speakers don't make a distinction between "this" and "that" or "these" and "those". In cases where that distinction is vital, you can add an adverb like "hier" or "da".
This is also relevant: http://www.duolingo.com/#/comment/599433