"You are a girl."

Translation:Du bist ein Mädchen.

March 19, 2013

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Why "ein" and not "eine"?


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 =)


Great explanation. Danke!!


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


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


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


You can just type "ae" instead of "ä"

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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.


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


You should read a description of the German keyboard


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


yeah, i think you are right


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


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.


What abou a girl from a noble family?


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


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.


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


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


*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

[deactivated user]

    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".


    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!


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

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    @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".


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

    • 3284

    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


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


    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.


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


    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?


    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.


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


    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


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


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

    • 3284

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


    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? ❤❤❤?


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


    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?


    "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.


    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?


    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.


    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?


    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.


    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?


    why "bist" and not "seid"?


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

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