"The cat is walking to the milk."
Translation:Die Katze läuft zur Milch.
They are contractions of zu + a definite article
- zu + der (fem. dat.) = zur, for example zur Milch (die Milch, fem.)
- zu + dem (masc. and neutr. dat.) = zum, for example zum Haus (das Haus, neutr.)
They don't exist for all combinations, there is, for example, no "zun", but you always have to say "zu den" (plur. dat.).
I thought that "zum" was used for both Masculine and Neuter. Zur for Feminine only. I haven't come across the use of "zu den" yet.
The way I understand it, "dem" is the Dative article for both Masculine and Neuter nouns in the dative. "der" is the Feminine Dative article for feminine nouns in the dative.
Thus, "zum" would be used with both Masculine and Neuter just like "dem, while "zur" is feminine only just like "der" (in dative). In Duolingo, anyway...
Laufen and rennen are a funny pair of words, look here: https://german.stackexchange.com/questions/18395/is-there-any-difference-between-laufen-and-rennen
In this example, laufen is the better choice. And you'll rarely read "zu der" in German, it's virtually always shortened to "zur".
Would „Die Katze läuft auf die Milch zu.“ be a passable translation here, or would that only really translate to "The cat is walking towards the milk.", meaning it has no real intention of going to the milk, but just happens to be headed in the same direction?
Die Katze läuft auf die Milch zu und dann vorbei, um ihr Futter zu erreichen.
Vielleicht ein bisschen übertrieben, wenn der Kater nur einen Meter gelaufen ist und man einfach hätte sagen können:
Die Katze läuft zum Futter
aber ich dachte, eine Frage war es trotzdem wert :P
Check out this article on "zu" vs. "nach" vs. "in"—that should hopefully clear up the confusion in future.
Quickly though, off the top of my head you would only use "nach" for cities, countries and the like; so you can "nach Berlin und Deutschland fahren", but "zur Schule" and in this case "zur Milch laufen".
For once, the reason why it is bzw. isn't used in German is the same as it is in English.
Here there is a particular bottle/pan/cup of milk being referred to, and that is indicated by the definite article. When we're talking about someone having milk with their tea, it's at that point inconsequential 'which' tea we're talking about; we're simply distinguishing between either having milk or not having milk—anything else isn't important. That's why milk bzw. Milch has no article in the second sentence you mentioned.
Depending on region and context, laufen can either mean to walk or to run or something (some pace) in between.
Laufen and rennen are a funny pair of words, look here.
In this example, laufen is the better choice.