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  5. "Are those our oranges?"

"Are those our oranges?"

Translation:Sind das unsere Orangen?

October 7, 2017



Why is it 'das' not 'diese'?


In German we usually just use the singular neuter pronoun when introducing something, regardless of gender and number of the introduced thing: „Das/dies sind Orangen.” And the same is true when forming the corresponding question.


I wrote "Sind die unsere Orangen" and got marked wrong. Could that also be correct though?


That would be the plural which is at the very least highly unnatural.


Thanks for helpful and speedy answer!


I was given wrong for writing dieses instead of das in the sentence, "this is a beer". Can you help explain?


When you use “this/that” to introduce a thing, you almost always use das. Dies is okay, but significantly less common. If you add the ending -es, that sounds like “this one” (i.e. it sounds like you were already talking about things from the same category and now you’re pointing out a specific one). In this case maybe: “Hier sind vier verschiedene Getränke. Dieses ist Bier.” (Here are four different drinks. This one is beer.)


would "sind die unsere orangen?" work?


I’m not sure if it’s officially wrong, but it’s at the very least be very unnatural. We usually just use das when identifying something (or asking the other person to identify it) like this, regardless of gender and number.


Why 'unsere' and not 'unser'?


Because unser (without any ending) would only be correct for singular neuter nouns in nominative or accusative case. Orangen is nominative, but it’s also plural (and also Orange is a feminine word, though in plural gender doesn’t matter), so you need the appropriate ending: unsere


Why is "Sind die unsere Orangen" wrong? "Die" is plural, and "Orangen" is plural. Saying it "sounds unnatural" (see response to AndreRhineDavis below), is not an explanation. It seems to be grammatically correct.


When we introduce something/someone using a formula such as “this is…” (also including the corresponding question “is this…”), the demonstrative pronoun is always singular neuter, regardless of the gender and number of the noun. So for example also: Das ist mein Mann. Not: *Der ist mein Mann. If you want you can think of it this way: Since the noun hasn’t been introduced yet, the gender and number are still undetermined, so we default to singular neuter.

To be sure, there are situations where der ist… etc. is correct, but only if the demonstrative refers back to a noun which has already come up before. For example: Komm dem Hund besser nicht zu nahe. Der ist gefährlich. “You had better not get too close to the dog. It’s dangerous.” Here der does not identify a new noun but instead refers back to the already established noun Hund, so it agrees with it in gender and number. In English you’d often use a personal pronoun (or if it’s singular “that one” instead of just “that”) in such a situation.

I’m not completely sure if the rule about using neuter singular to introduce nouns is in the Duden grammar (I’m afraid I don’t have one nearby right now) but if I were to grade a test I would definitely mark it wrong because it doesn’t feel grammatical to me as a native speaker.


I see. So "das" is the default usage, unless there is a reference to something / someone previously mentioned. Thank you.


what about "sind das meine Orangen?


Meine Orangen would be “my oranges”.


Oh that makes sense!! Thank you for explaining that!


So I wanted to try Sind sie unsere Orangen? Would that work, since the Oranges are of feminine gender?


It’s a perfectly fine sentence but it would mean: “Are they our oranges,” not “those”. You are absolutely correct that Orangen are feminine though (although it doesn’t really matter here because they are also plural and genders are only distinguished in the singular).


I was able to use dies in the previous "those" question. Why the inconsistency???

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