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Subject and Objects... and The fruits

So I am a teen in the Southern U.S. and picked up learning German as a hobby and it's shockingly fun. Although It is fun, I am having troubling grasping the idea of "the". I know the words for the in German (Deutsch) is Der, Die, Das, and Den. Der being masculine, Die being feminine, Das being neutral, and lastly Den being accusative. I also know that when saying the apple in German, you would say "Der Apfel." Due to it being the subject of the sentences, in the case of saying I am eating the apple, you would say "Ich essen den Apfel." When talking about an orange as the subject, you would say "Die" instead "Der". So what's the difference there and how would I apply that to other sentences when speaking, writing, and typing in German. Danke, bis spater!

March 9, 2018



I see 4 hours have passed and no one has answered you yet, so I'll start the ball rolling: If I understand your question, it's about how do you identify subject and object... in a lot of sentences, there is something which acts on something else via a verb. The dog eats the bone. The thing doing the action is the subject and the thing being done to is the direct object. So the dog is the subject and the bone is the object. Sometimes the object is "given" to another object. This new object is then called the indirect object.

On a good day, the subject is in the nominative, the direct object is in the accusative, and the indirect object is in the dative. sadly there are a few prepositions and verbs that force you to use the dative... even if it looks as though it should be accusative. antworten, danken, gehoeren, helfen and schaden.... aus, außer, bei, mit, nach, seit, von, zu, gegenüber... amongst others.

And there are some prepositions that always take the accusative: durch, für, gegen, ohne, um and entlang amongst others.

Oh yes, and some things force the genitive e.g. trotz and während... but sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Then there's the rule about positions: if something's position is fixed ( in the house, or on the table) then you should use the dative. But if there is motion, you use the accusative.

so masculine: der for subject, den for direct object, dem for indirect object.

feminine: die for subject, die for object, der for indirect object.

neuter: das for subject, das for object, dem for indirect object.

plurals: die for subject, die for object den for indirect object.

So Der Hund hat den Apfel ( den because the apple is in the accusative).... but Der Hund hilft dem Apfel (dem because helfen takes the dative.)

Die Orange hat die Orange...der Hund hat den Hund...Das Haus hat das Haus...Die Häuser haben die Häuser

die Orange hilft der Orange ... der Hut hilft dem Hut ... das Haus hilft dem Haus ... die Männer helfen den Männern

Then you just need to memorise a few tables...

No doubt there are also other rules I have yet to glimpse... Hope this was enough to get you started. I expect an expert will chip in soon with better explanations :)


German actually has four cases (don't worry too much about the Genitive case right now) and the article of the noun will change to indicate case. I use the negating word "kein" in the second graph, because you don't use "ein" with plurals (obviously). But be carful! Notice how feminine die changes to der in the dative (and genitive) case. That's one reason it's very important to learn whether a noun is der, die, or das in the subjective when you're fist introduced to the noun.

Subjective: Der / Die / Das / Die (plural)

Accusative: Den / Die / Das / Die

Dative: Dem / Der / Dem / Den

Genitive: Des / Der / Des / Der

And with ein:

Subjective: Ein / Eine / Ein / Keine

Accusative: Einen / Eine / Ein / Keine

Dative: Einem / Einer / Einem / Keinen

Genitive: Eines / Einer / Eines / Keiner

The case system might seem a bit confusing at first, but it's a really cool aspect of the German language, that actually gives you more freedom of expression (I would argue). For example, here's a grammar "trick"

Der Mann hat dem Junge den Apfel gegeben. / The man gave the apple to the boy.

Den Apfel hat der Mann dem Junge gegeben. / The man gave the apple to the boy.

All the nouns are "der" words: der Mann, der Junge, der Apfel. Though the word order in the second German sentence is crazy, the articles (der, den, dem) indicate how each word is functioning in the sentence, so the meaning doesn't change.

As I said, the case system seems a little crazy at first, but you start to get used to it with time, so don't fear.

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