Ein vs. Eine ?
I have advanced quite a bit on my tree, but I am still not sure when to use ein and when to use eine. I just kind of guess or do it by memory, but I don't know the logic behind it.
Anyone care to explain, please? :)
Hi Hilda! It is a bit complicated, and people are always complaining about this not being explained. There is actually "ein," "eine," "einen," "einem," "einer," and "eines." You can forget about the last 3 for a little bit.
There are three genders in German: masculine, feminine, and neuter. When the thing performing the action in the sentence is anything but feminine, you will use "ein." If the thing is feminine, you use "eine." Pretty simple, right? All you have to remember is that the feminine ones are different with their extra -e.
Now when the thing is being acted upon by the verb, then things get a bit more tricky. The masculine will use "einen" in this case. But that is the only difference! Again it is very simple if you take it step by step.
Sometimes, for example you may say something TO someone, and they will then use "einem" (for masculine or neuter), "einer" (for feminine), or "einen" (for plural). But don't think too hard on this one until you actually reach this point. Focus on mastering "ein," "eine," and "einen!" If you have more questions later I will be happy to explain more.
edit: There is also an exception with the verbs "sein," "werden" and their different forms. Here the masculine doesn't use "einen," but rather "ein," because the verb is seen like an "=" instead of a real action.
Hallo Hilda! I'm not much further in my German than you but I wanted to share a method that works for me. This might get a bit confusing for you if you've not explored the four German Cases yet. (Duo introduces you to them slowly.. I knew about them from previous German lessons and had some knowledge). I will try to explain this to the best of my abilities.
I've made flashcards, each for the different Cases (Nominative, Akkusativ, Dative and Genitive) in German. I've made tables on each of the cards with the defintive article gender across the top: Masc.; Fem.; Neutral and Plural, and whether it is Der, Die, Das, or Die Plural. Below that I have the in definitive article below that as Ein, Eine, Ein and Ein. I often do my German lessons on duo with these cards handy and I do use them often.
For example - "She is eating an Apple." "Sie isst einen Apfel." So I ask myself as I am reading She is eating.. what.. and that helps me identify that it is Akkusativ Case (think.. Accusing!) so I know to get that card. then I identify the Gender of what she is eating. Apfel is a masculine word, der Apfel (die Äpfel is it's plural). So I just go to the Masculine cell of my Akkusative table on my index card. Der is Den in Akkusative and Einen for Ein.
"She is walking with the dog". Sie laüft mit dem Hund." Little bit more complex of a sentence, I do the same thing. She is walking with... what. This might seem a bit like the Akkusative.. but the with changes it to a indirect object. The Case for that is Dative, so I get my Dative Card, Hund is Masculine, I go to the Masculine cell and see Dem for Der and Einem for Ein.
It's not the most.. beautiful of systems and some might say it is cheating to use cards, but they honestly helped me when I was getting confused. I have started to rely on them less and less now I proceed through the tree and review old lessons. The hardest part is memorizing the genders I think. I'm sure there is a mistake or five in this.