"You are a girl."

Translation:Du bist ein Mädchen.

March 19, 2013

81 Comments
This discussion is locked.


https://www.duolingo.com/EduardoFarinha

Why "ein" and not "eine"?

July 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/MultiLinguAlex

I know that this word is a really tough one to learn in the very first skill, but we cannot change the system (yet). German grammar has a lot of idiosyncrasies and your assumption that "eine" goes with a feminine noun is absolutely correct.

It is "das Mädchen", neuter and there is a logic why, though. In German, every noun that can be diminished (ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce: The diminutives) and is formed of its stem and the suffixes -lein or chen is neuter. Now please imagine that a girl is a little woman, OK? The word "Mädchen" stems from the old German word Maid (Maid = unmarried woman) or from the old German word Magd (Magd = farm girl or chambermaid). A young Maid or Magd was called Maidchen or Magdchen and as the language developped, these forms turned into the word Mädchen. Since a Mädchen is logically younger than a woman, you have to add the suffix -chen and this is the reason why we say das Mädchen. To sum it up, the grammatical gender is thus neuter, whereas the girl is still a biologically feminine being ;-)


For those of you who want to have another explanation of said suffixes: You can add them to a lot of different nouns (but not to every noun!). If the stem of this noun consists an a, the a of the diminished form converts into the umlaut ä. The same happens for o -> ö and u -> ü. Please compare these examples and notice how the grammatical gender changes:

  • das Brot (the bread) - das Brötchen (the bread roll)
  • das Schiff (the ship) - das Schiffchen (the boat, the little ship; no a/o/u here)
  • der Turm (the tower) - das Türmchen (the turret, the little tower)
  • die Tafel (the board/panel) - das Täfelchen (the small board, the small panel).

Please notice that this refers to the singular only! The plural of a noun always goes with "die". Compare the singular of the diminished form with its plural form:

  • das Brötchen (only one) -> die Brötchen (more than one ;-) )
  • das Schiffchen (only one) -> die Schiffchen (more than one) a.s.o.

Hope this helps =)

April 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Fernand471925

Vielen Danke

February 18, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/petorialc

Great explanation. Danke!!

November 29, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/showdogs

Since one uses the informal when speaking to children or underlings, I can not picture a situation where one would use Sie with Maedchen.

April 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Zach1337

I think people miss the point of sentences in Duolingo. While you might use a lot of the sentences in the exact way they are presented, they are simply tools in your learning and should be treated as such. You don't speak with one phrases after another anyway. You naturally put together words and form sentences.

June 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Glutexo

What abou a girl from a noble family?

May 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/sanikamnjoshi

If one has to say this sentence to a girl formally, then it would be ,,Sie sind ein Mädchen."

March 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/sanjaimeno

Sie sind eine madechen.

August 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/CristianBrinzei

Sie sind ein Mädchen!!

September 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/sanikamnjoshi

It's 'das' Mädchen! (counterintuitive, I know, but true)

March 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/sanikamnjoshi

@qeckopaws What I meant was, the article of Mädchen is 'das' and NOT 'die', despite the fact that Mädchen means 'girl' and one would intuitively assign the article 'die' to it.

September 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/qeckopaws

No, that would be "the girl," not "a girl."

June 4, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/jbuyaki

I guess so, though I'm not sure...

May 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Scourgex

It's bit a trap question, but i like the fact they added it here. It made me really think for a moment instead of just blindly clicking.

July 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Sariwes

In vintage movies maybe.

June 26, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/jaime1989

"Du bist ein Madchen"means"You are a girl",right?

April 16, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/tabake

Yeah, don't forget to put the 2 points on the 'a' of Mädchen. It's called a umlaut.

April 16, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/jaime1989

can't type the 2 points with my keyboard.....is there any way to do that?

April 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/farukahmet

You can just type "ae" instead of "ä"

May 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems

My preferred way is to change your keyboard language. Once added, you can alternate between languages very easily. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-ca/windows-vista/change-your-keyboard-layout

Another way is to use codes: http://german.about.com/library/blcharcodes.htm

April 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Bharen

I had the german IME selected but I still dunno how to add umlauts.

July 16, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/RsRabits

You should read a description of the German keyboard

July 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/SteveU.

Press and hold the 'a' and a menu should pop out with 'ä' in it

October 4, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AlfredOwen

I found the umlauts by holding down the letter I needed then selecting from a list.

January 16, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/VintageFenrir

You can also change your keyboard to US International. Then all you have to do is type quotes then the vowel. It lets you do accents, the upside down versions of punctuation marks, and other things as well.

July 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/bollondawg

or you could just google the german alphabet and copy and paste those letters....

August 1, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/srshti

Also, if you're on a Mac you can hit alt-u followed by whatever letter you want the umlaut on. e.g. hitting "alt-u u" gives me a "ü". In fact the Mac has alt- shortcuts for all accents.

May 7, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Raseksa

If you're on a mac just hold on the world long enough it will give you the options.

Eg. Hold the button a and à á â ã ä etc. would come out as an option.

Also, you can press fn+letter or fn+shift+letter to get different symbols as well

May 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/ruth-mac

don't you get little shortcuts to click on for special letters below the text box?

August 9, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/rkcee

Actually, on your keyboard or iphone just hold down the letter for a few seconds, and it will pop up with the option of all the accented a. Then hit the number on your keyboard that the pop up gives you. eg. a for ä, u for ü

July 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/tabake

if there is a button on your keyboard that contain the two points ¨, perhaps, you have to use shift (under windows) with that button to type the ¨. If not, when you want to type ä, ö or ü umlaut in the game, you will find a small gray (just below the space where you put your answer) in which you will find all these characters. If this gray is hided you should activate it by clicking on Aa icone.

April 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/rahulkltr

You can keep the "a" key pressed..u get options

September 23, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/JohnObi1

You can hold the a or any letter in your keyboard and you can accents and stuff to the letter

June 11, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Jacqueline1672

Rather than the English Qwerty keyboard, I've got the Qwertz...

February 28, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Sasuke.Uchiha8

You just press the letter you want for a long time and ypu choose what you want it to be like .

March 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Seefu

Yes. On a desktop, hold 'alt' while typing '132' on the number pad. ALT+132 is ä, ALT+129 is ü. There's a number map somewhere out there.

January 5, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/jenjenrocks

its right under your text box there is one for every accent in that language

October 21, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/PsychoWorld

Very interesting information! Umlaut it is... This was confusing, apparently chan doesn't mean girls? Or just to children

October 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/eyeobs

you are right.

May 7, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/megangm

yeah, i think you are right

June 5, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/keisha100601

Yes

March 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Peelyo

That's what I put, and was told I was wrong. It's really difficult to tell if in the context of this sentence it's formal or informal.

May 9, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Mathiascordoba

I have question I got the transation the sentence correct but why is ist Du bist ein Mädchen instead of Du bist eine Mädchen ?

November 21, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Levi
  • 1985

@Mathiascordoba : In the nominative case ein is used for the masculine and neuter, and eine is used for the feminine. das Mädchen is neuter, so it's "Du bist ein Mädchen".

November 21, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/epicknight7

Sorry, I am still confused. Since eine is feminine and Maedchen is "girl" ...what's wrong with "eine Maechen" ? Thanks

June 28, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Levi
  • 1985

eine is used for feminine, but 'das Maedchen' is grammatically neuter, and that's what we're talking about here: grammar (even if the girl is biologically feminine).
Hope this helps. 2014.06.29

June 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/m3.

Why would you use "Sie" when talking to/about a child?

April 27, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Glutexo

Because it can be a child of a respected state (for example from a noble family). Or you might be (e. g. profesionally) in a situation when you have to talk formaly with absolutely anyone.

May 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/pepperonicus

thank you for this plausible explanation! we, the public, are ,however, disinclined to address children formally.

July 14, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/SPal5

but it is not mentioned here that child is from respected family?

June 22, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Zach1337

Duolingo only presents you with one sentence at a time. They can't really fit that in. Context is often not provided.

June 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/whenturtlesfly

can anyone help me with the difference between "sie" and "ihr"? Seems both can be used as "you."

March 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Germandy

du - informal you, singular
Sie - formal you, singular, always capitalized
sie - they
ihr - informal you, plural
Sie - formal you, plural, always capitalized

March 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems

*Not a native speaker

ihr - formal you, plural

Is this right? I suspect a typo. Shouldn't it be: ihr - informal you, plural ?

du - ihr
Sie - Sie

March 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/christian

You're right. Also, there's only one formal you. There's no distinction between singular and plural.

Not sure what you mean by "du - ihr", "Sie - Sie".

March 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems

Sorry, I forget I'm the only one that knows what goes on in my brain...

du - ihr (du would be the singular version of ihr; ihr is plural of du) - these are the informal

Sie - Sie (Sie would be the singular version of Sie....this one doesn't work well.) - these are the formal.

I understand that there is no distinction between singular and plural for Sie, but it helps me to approach it that way (at least until German comes more naturally for me and I can stop thinking/worrying about every little word).

Thanks for the affirmation!

March 19, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Plominia

That sounds wrong to me... how can one girl "ein Mächen" be plural "sie sind"? Can anybody help?

April 23, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems

You (formal) are = Sie sind
The formal "you" is conjugated as third person plural.
Here are some of the common mix ups with you/she/they:

du bist = you are (informal)
Sie sind = you are (formal) ---- capitalized S
sie sind = they are
sie ist = she is

April 23, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Nyletak

Okay, here's where I'm confused. "Seid" is "you are". "Sind" is "we are". The translation is "You are a girl", so I picked "Sie seid ein Madchen". It says it's "Sie sind" though. How does that make sense?

May 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Germandy

You cannot look at the conjugated verb alone, but have to look at the person as well.
See the conjugation of the verb "to be" - sein:
ich bin - I am
du bist - you are (singular, informal)
Sie sind - you are (singular, formal)
er/sie/es ist - he/she/it is
wir sind - we are
ihr seid - you are (plural, informal)
Sie sind - you are (plural, formal - identical with the formal singular!)
sie sind - they are

*Unlike in Spanish or Italian, the conjugated verb cannot stand alone in German, you always have to name a subject.

May 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/NadirBensaker

when to use ein, eine and einen ? I thought it is related to masculine feminine and plural but...

July 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Levi
  • 1985

Check out this link to understand things better: http://canoo.net/inflection/ein:Art:Indef:SG
Hope this helps. 2014.07.03

July 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Omio3

why the german translation of, "you are" is "sie sind " or "du bist"?? why not "sie bist" or "du sind"??

June 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/neopolyglot

What's wrong with "Du bist ein Fraulein"?

October 2, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/AdaB.Sanchez0

Which way is more correct for "You are a girl." "Sie sind ein Madchen." or "Du bist ein Madchen." If both are correct, then what is the difference between the both?

April 24, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/MultiLinguAlex

Both are correct, but "Du bist ein Mädchen" is much more likely. If you means "Sie", it's a formal and polite way to normally address adult people or people of a higher rang than you. Addressing a girl with "Sie" sounds rather odd, but imagine you'll deal with a girl of nobility or a little princess. In that particular way, it's correct to say "Sie sind ein Mädchen", therefore we accept both translations.

April 24, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/StefanTelefan1

The engine translates my speech "ein" into 1, and takes "Du bist 1 Madchen" wrong (which is indeed), but I believe I said it correctly. Anyone else encountered that?

May 17, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/mackmac

why "bist" and not "seid"?

June 6, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/HoBRO

Man, Mädchen is kinda hard to remember on how to pronounce. Haha.

June 19, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/MoonJinJi

wait... why can't it be "ihr seid ein Maedchen" how can you tell if the answer should be formal????

May 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/fordhogan

Because the sentence is "you are a girl", and "ihr" is used for the plural of "you", as in "you all".

May 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/fuzzymittens

Why can't you say Ihr ist ein Mädchen?

March 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Germandy

It's incorrect because "Ihr" in that case would stand for the plural 'you'. Correct would be "Ihr seid Mädchen" = You are girls.

March 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/schatzie35

WHY?? I knew sie meant she and they, but didn't know it also meant "you." And why would you use "sind" instead of "bist"? Sind is for plural, right? WTF?

May 21, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Glutexo

When you use Sie in the meaning of “they,” you’d use sind (a plural form) even though you are addressing a single person.

May 31, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/nepenthicola

In this case, wouldn't "Sie sind ein Mädchen" mean "They are a girl"? And if not, why not? How come I am adressing the second person singular with the plural conjugation of the third person?

June 14, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/fordhogan

"Sie sind" can mean both "You are" or "They are", but you must realise that "they are a girl" isn't a logical sentence, so we can assume it means "you are a girl". Always look for context.

June 15, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/nepenthicola

So Sie will be conjugated with the plural form of the verb (third person), no matter what Sie stands for? Or are there special occasions?

When "Sie" first popped up there was a comment saying that you can figure out what Sie stands for by checking the verb, or am I mistaken?

June 15, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/fordhogan

It often depends on the verb. I think you may be remembering the difference between "she" and "they" (both are "sie"). For example, "she has" is "sie hat", and "they have" is "sie haben". Also, if "Sie" has a capital letter, it means "you" (formal) - but this can be tricky if "Sie" is at the start of the sentence (as is the case in the translation above), but try to use either the verb or context to get the answer! Hope that helps.

June 15, 2013
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