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"You are a girl."

Translation:Du bist ein Mädchen.

March 19, 2013

81 Comments
This discussion is locked.


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

Why "ein" and not "eine"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/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 =)


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

Great explanation. Danke!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaime1989

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


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

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaime1989

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


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

You can just type "ae" instead of "ä"


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

You should read a description of the German keyboard


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

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


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

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnObi1

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


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

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


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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jacqueline1672

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

yeah, i think you are right


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

you are right.


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


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


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


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

What abou a girl from a noble family?


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

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


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

Sie sind eine madechen.


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

Sie sind ein Mädchen!!


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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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

In vintage movies maybe.


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Levi
  • 2560

@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".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/epicknight7

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Levi
  • 2560

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


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

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


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


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

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SPal5

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zach1337

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


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


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


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

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


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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Omio3

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


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

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Levi
  • 2560

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

why "bist" and not "seid"?


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

Why can't you say Ihr ist ein Mädchen?


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

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

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