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"The ghosts always come at midnight."

Translation:Um Mitternacht kommen immer die Geister.

November 18, 2017

34 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MariaPfe

Why not "Die Geister kommen immer um Mitternacht."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GreisbyC

Ja, ist doch durchaus korrekt


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

That was marked correct for me today—2019/11/13.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WarrenBrow3

The plural of Geist is Geisten, not Geister


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsnix

Something just occurred to me that I didn’t think of when previously encountering this sentence. There’s an ambiguity in the English sentence. It could either mean “On the occasions when the ghosts come, they only do so at midnight”, or it could mean “Every time midnight comes around, the ghosts come.” Does the German sentence also have both meanings, or would, say, a change in word order differentiate the two?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jw8DP

I would say it only has the second meaning. the first would be something like, "Wenn die Geister kommen, ist es immer Mitternacht" oder "Die Geister kommen nur um Mitternacht".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wayne____

For the first, I'd say that the ghosts come only at midnight.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsnix

It's kind of confusing that things happen "um" midnight, but "am" midday.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ikwilvertalen

It might help to remember that "am" is a contraction of "an dem", and since "dem" is dative masculine and neuter, it can only precede nouns of those genders. Mitternacht on the other hand is feminine, so you know you can't use "am". (I know it's still a bit confusing as to why you use an Vs um but it might help a little!)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang
Mod
  • 602

In my mind, Mitternacht is an exact point in time, so you use the same preposition as with times of the day: um 0 Uhr, um Mitternacht. But Mittag is a period rather than a point (I would say roughly from 11am to about 1 or 2pm), so it uses the same preposition as other such periods: am Morgen, am Vormittag, am Mittag, am Nachmittag, am Abend.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsnix

Even though I said "midday" for the sake of alliteration in my original post, I've been thinking of "Mittag" as meaning "noon", i.e. 12:00 p.m., so it seemed odd for it to use a different preposition than another word that I also took to be a specific time. Especially when those two words are so closely related (word for "middle" + word for one of the two halves of the day).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsnix

I kept the 'm' from "am Mittag" when I typed it above, but it's not the genders that are confusing. It's the use of the two different prepositions.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/smitty_x

I agree with you on this -- on the ambiguity. I was going to comment on it, but saw that you'd already done the heavy lifting.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Torniojaws

This is probably the most confusing word structure out of all the ones in Duolingo.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OliverKalman

Um Mitternacht kommen die Geister immer. Why is this incorrect and why does the adverb kick the subject out of its usual position?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RafaelRive340338

warum nicht? " Die Geister kommen immer um Mitternacht


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

That was marked correct for me today—2019/11/13.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Steve51628

Why is the verb neither in the second position nor at the end? "Um Mitternacht immer die Geister kommen" is wrong? Please explain.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

Why is the verb neither in the second position nor at the end?

In the presented solution:

Um Mitternacht kommen immer die Geister.

The verb is in the second position.

"Um Mitternacht immer die Geister kommen" is wrong?

Yes.

Please explain.

Gladly.
This is a main clause, so the verb has to be in the second position (as shown above). If this were a subordinate clause, your word order would be correct.

If anything about this word order is still unclear, I'd recommend checking out the linked article from DoubleLingot's comment earlier in this discussion.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Steve51628

Thanks. If the verb is in the second position, that means "Um" doesn't count in the word order? I think I know that articles don't count in this situation, but prepositions don't either?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsnix

“Second position” doesn’t mean it’s the second word in the sentence, just the second thing. So, it’s not that um doesn’t count, it’s that um Mitternacht, as a whole phrase, is the first position. Just like, if you put the subject first, you would say “die Geister kommen”, and die Geister is all in the first position, even though it’s two words.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kbsreddy

Word order is confusing and look like poetic . I feel it as a language of Shakespeare. I miss the order of words very often due to my familiarity with English. Um Mitternacht kommen immer die Geister =At midnight come the Ghosts. This sentence is a generalised sentence relating to belief of ghosts.The sentence also should have been in general form but why it is in the poetic order.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hloch

I wrote ' Die Geister erscheinen immer um Mitternacht' and it wasn't accepted-I know erscheinen translates more directly to appearing but surely it is more true to the meaning?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

An argument can certainly be made, however, good practice when translating on Duolingo is to translate as closely/literally/directly as possible with correct grammar.

There are exceptions (both where the translation isn't necessarily as close as possible, and where correct grammar isn't upheld), but that's the rule of thumb.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hloch

you are right of course and I have been doing this long enough to know better-thank you for the reminder!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Wayne____

Ironically, if you worked as a professional translator, yours might be preferable. The task wouldn't be to answer the question, but to express a sentiment, and yours does a better job, even though it might not make sense for Duolingo to accept it. The goal here isn't to come up with what's the best answer conceptually, but one that expresses the specifics of the original sentence to the extent possible.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hloch

true-that! I love words and sometimes get caught with what feels better than what duolingo is looking for-my bad!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thinkmac

Midnight. I thought it is 3 AM


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rose173982

If you want that translation you SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN AT MIDNIGHT..

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