That confused me with English... how am I supposed to introduce my girlfriend without people thinking it's a female friend? In norway we use "Kjæreste" which is gf/bf for both genders and we use "venninne" for female friend and "kamerat" for male friend. Venn as a neutral word for friend.
Note, Ketabi, that you qualified where "girlfriend" is no longer assumed to imply a romantic relationship: LA/OC and Seattle, within many groups of people.
I cannot speak with authority about all the rest of the U.S.--I've conducted no surveys or other in-depth study--however, I will note that the the most common usage usually occupies the first definition in a dictionary.
It's the same in England. The language doesn't have different words, however, if I (as a man) was talking to someone about a girl who was my platonic friend then I would say "my friend" and then, often, her name. If she was my girlfriend then I would introduce her as such, "have you met [insert her name here], my girlfriend."
There are lots of ways, in English, to talk about a person and make it clear what your relationship with them is but it is all contextual.
For some reason I don't have a "Reply" link to respond to zengator's reply to my post. I would disagree that it is generally assumed to be a romantic female friend. I've lived in the LA/OC and Seattle areas all my life. Within many groups of people, the romantic relationship is no longer assumed when a man uses the term "girlfriend". Furthermore, when it is assumed, there isn't any surprise in finding out that assumption was incorrect.
If anthromorphic, then use the verb/term that relates to humans. That's the point, no?
Although, one could use frissen to demonstrate in such a story that the anthromorphic character (e.g., C.S. Lewis' Aslan) still retains some fundamentally animal characteristics. There's some subtlety involved in that.
This is a slight confusion between natural gender, like the sex of a person, and grammatical gender.
Grammatical gender is very unforunately called "gender" but it has NOTHING to do with natural gender except sometimes coincidentally. It is easier to think of it as simply categories of nouns that all behave the same.
The word "mädchen" is "neuter" so you use "das / ein / mein" but the real girl who you are calling "mädchen" is female. So when you use a pronoun you don't call her "es / it". You call her "sie / she".
Thank you for explaining this.
In English, I've heard "verbs of being take the nominative case", which led me to somehow assume that, in German, two words would have to have the same grammatical gender if they refer to the same object/thing/noun/item, but clearly "sie" is feminine, while "mein Mädchen" is neuter. Your explanation clears this up for me.
Thanks for the clarification although saying that coincidentally grammatical and natural gender mostly unrelated sounds odd to me, especially in this case when we're talking about a girl as opposed to an inanimate object in which case the idea of a natural gender is odd (let's leave aside that is Das Madchen, like an object)
I am sure I have seen Mädchen used with es before though. I know in the original German versions of the Brothers Grimm stories, es is the pronoun used for ein Mädchen. I recall finding that a little strange when i read it. Maybe it is an older practice that is not used in German anymore.
I think it's because, in the stories, es refers back specifically to the word Mädchen. In this sentence, though, we don't know the context. The sie could be referring directly to the girl herself, or to another word that was used in reference to the girl that is feminine, e.g. Schülerin.
I mostly agree with mizzoth but I have to add sth. If you begin a sentence with das Mädchen and the next sentence is also about das Mädchen and you want to use pronoun, then you should use es. But as in this case if you point someone and say sie ist ein Mädchen, then you use sie because the person is female but after mentioning das Mädchen you can continue with es. Normally the sex of a person and the gender of a word matches, but das Mädchen is an exception (because of the -chen ending). That's why there is this confusion. You should also use for example "Das Mädchen isst sein Essen." and not "Das Mädchen isst ihr Essen." The first one is the grammatically correct version. This issue is I think unresolved in German, you can read further here: http://www.grammatikfragen.de/showthread.php?155-Sagt-man-quot-Das-M%E4dchen-mit-seiner-Puppe-oder-das-M%E4dchen-mit-ihrer-Puppe
Not exactly true. You say "Die Katze trinkt Milch und sie springt." Sie refers here to the cat but you should use sie although the cat is an it in English, because the gender of the word is feminin. You can't simply match sie-she, er-he, es-it. You have to check the gender of the word first.
>A male cat is called "der Kater".
I agree. But I looked up "cat" at the following website, and it did not list "Kater" as an option. http://en.pons.com/translate?q=cat&l=deen&in=en&lf=en
I looked up "Kater" and it said "tomcat". I'm guessing that "Katze" is used like "cat" is used in English--for cats of either sex. And that "Kater" is used like "tomcat" is used in English--more for a male cat that has not been neutered. http://en.pons.com/translate?q=Kater&l=deen&in=&lf=de
Can anyone confirm or refute this?
Because the noun Mädchen has neuter grammatical gender, not feminine gender.
Grammatical gender is not necessarily related to the meaning of a word, and even different languages agree about the gender of words meaning the same thing -- the sun is grammatically feminine in German but masculine in French, for example.
Are you asking about the das at the beginning?
When we're pointing at something new, we always use neuter singular, regardless of the gender of the thing we're going to introduce -- or even of the number.
We would say das sind meine Kinder, for example, with neuter singular das introducing something plural.
Or are you asking about telling the gender of the nouns Mädchen and Hund? Those you just have to learn; they don't change, after all. Mädchen is always neuter, Hund is always masculine.
So after 42 comments no one has answered the original question which was "So would you use this to reference your daughter, girlfriend or both?" This is what I'm wondering too. And does everyone notice how much clearer the anticutter warning is in the high contrast RED? I need better larger clearer less pale fonts throughout to save my eyes. please. (and yes I've made this comment often to "support" who always reply thanks and never respond with any information about their fonts, which should be an easy thing to fix or even offer options for students like me who need it.
Freundin is a better choice for "girlfriend". (Note that Freundin can also be just a friend who is a girl). See http://german.stackexchange.com/questions/26114/is-it-proper-to-call-your-partner-m%C3%A4dchen-or-junge as well as the mirror of this discussion: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/130913 which includes this marvelous bit from geoastro:
If my boyfriend said about me, "She is my girl" instead of "She is my girlfriend", I'd slap him. (Poor him has a hard life... :P)
If my dad said about me, "She is my girlfriend" instead of "She is my girl", I'd tell him to mom. ;)
Two items: use mein or meine depending on what is being had; mein for grammatically masculin or neuter, meine for grammatically feminin nouns. You will not make gender mistakes in German if you manage to use only diminutives or mostly foreign words. They are neuter. Same as all plurals are feminin.
It has not been mantioned here or in other exercises that Mädchen is also 'maid' both as girl and as female servant.
Because it's plural.
meine Brüder, meine Schwestern, meine Kinder -- all take meine regardless of what grammatical gender the word has in the singular. (Bruder is masculine, Schwester is feminine, Kind is neuter.)
There are no gender distinctions in the plural in German. In a way, it's like a fourth gender: masculine, feminine, neuter, and plural.
sbreiff is exactly right, but let's also address the statement concerning the dative case being used to show possession:
Dativ is NOT used to show possession. Der Genitiv is used for that. Der Dativ is used to indicate an indirect object. (And der Akkusativ for direct objects.)
This question was asked above two years ago. And the correct answer was shortly thereafter provided. Usually, reading the comments will either directly answer questions one might have, and/or provide additional information that will enhance one's learning through this site.
This is not dissimilar to college, where 75% (or greater) of the most important things you learn in life occur outside the classroom.
Die Mädchen sind Frauen, das weibliche Geschlecht.
[Girls are women, the female sex.]
The word, however, is neuter.
Gender (a linguistic property) and sex (a biological property) are two entirely different things. Similarly, the word and the thing referenced by the word are two different things and have different properties. Is the word "whale" heavy? Is there a "w" at one end of a whale and an "e" at its other end? Or does a whale have a head at one end and a tail at the other?
But the use of mein vs. meine has been discussed numerous times in the comments.
You are correct, Maryjoy462, that "meine" is used as the first-person possessive pronoun for feminine or plural objects. You are also correct that "mein" is similarly used for singular masculine objects (when Nominativ).
But it appears that you have overlooked or forgotten that "mein" is also used with neuter objects that are Nominativ. (Or perhaps--because it can be confusing--you forgot that although Mädchen are girls, the word Mädchen is neuter.)
In this sentence we also know that Mädchen is singular because sein was conjugated as ist: singular. If the sentence were "Sie
sind meine Mädchen", then it would be "they are my girls".
NB: one might think you could say "Sie sind mein Mädchen" to say "You [formal] are my girlfriend," but I'm pretty sure this wouldn't make sense, because anyone who could be your girlfriend would not be addressed by the formal/unfamiliar you (Sie).
Why is it 'Mein Mädchen' rather than 'meine'? I thought it would be 'meine' as it is the feminine?
Why isnt it meine mädchen since meine is the feminine way?
You just answered your own question.
meine is used for feminine nouns, but Mädchen is grammatically neuter.
(And it's a noun, which is why you have to capitalise it in German. Unfortunately, Duolingo doesn't check for this.)
Your second sentence is a non sequitur.
meine Mädchen is incorrect because that means "my girls" -- you used the plural ending -e that would be used with a plural noun.
Or perhaps the feminine ending -e, but the noun Mädchen is not feminine: it's neuter.
So in the singular it has to be mein Mädchen.
Note that the endings on the possessive determiners depend only on the gender, number, and case of the possession; there is no difference in the word "my" depending on whether the "owner" is male, female, or anything else.
A father would say meine Tochter und mein Sohn "my daughter and my son" and a mother would also say the same thing.
So there I was, about to post a joke in response to the previous question in my practice session. I was going to write,
"Nein, wir sind geschieden." (from google translate; I don't attest to the correctness of usage)
Ultimately, I decided against it. There were already several similar jokes, the newest ones weren't getting votes, and I decided it wasn't in the best taste to post it.
So, I moved on to the next question in my practice session. It was the sentence being discussed here: "Sie ist mein Mädchen." "She is my girl."
It would appear, either by design or coincidence, Duo has had the last laugh, after all. Shame on you, Duo.
The previous question?
"Ist das deine Kuh?"
The word is Mädchen (capital M, ä -- or write Maedchen if you don't have an ä, not even when long-pressing the A key).
And it's not feminine: it's neuter. At least grammatically. Hence mein Mädchen.
Grammatical gender is not, in general, related to the meaning of the word.
Just as sbreiff said, but to perhaps make the concept a bit clearer: you are right, ein Mädchen (a girl) is a female--and usually behave in a feminine way--but the word "Mädchen" is neuter.
Gender is traditionally a linguistic characteristic and is not necessarily consistent with the biological sex of the object referenced by the word. Similarly, letters are a characteristic or attribute of the word, but not the object. "Mädchen" has seven letters and an umlaut. Ein Mädchen konnte sieben Briefen haben, aber konnte auch nur fünf Briefen haben.
(A girl could have seven letters, but could also have only five letters. In either case, she probably does NOT have an umlaut, but that seems to be a rather personal question to me, don't you think?)
Of course, you might occasionally see the phrase die Mädchen, but when you do, you will know that there's more than one girl, since die is used with Mädchen only to indicate plurality.
The choice of mein or meine is governed by the grammatical gender of a word, which is not always connected to the sex of the person described by the word.
das Mädchen is neuter, so you use mein Mädchen.
das Kind is also neuter, so you would say mein Kind, whether that child is a girl or a boy.
No. It is neither die madchen nor meine Mädchen. Not in this sentence at any rate. Mädchen is neuter, thus use das for singular and die for plural.
So, if you change the subject of the sentence to plural (Sie for "they" instead of "she") then you can refer to die Mädchen or meine Mädchen. But if one changes the number of the subject, the verb must change to match, thus "Sie sind meine Mädchen." ("They are my girls."). But that's not the sentence presented.