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  5. "Das kleine Mädchen spielt au…

"Das kleine Mädchen spielt auf der großen Trommel."

Translation:The little girl plays on the big drum.

March 28, 2018



Does she play the drum or play over the drum?


If you say it as a hobby or regular activity, you can also say "Das Mädchen spielt (die) Trommel" but for a momentary activity and also together with what is played, I'd use auf: "Das Mädchen spielt ein Lied auf der Trommel" (with a further object like ein Lied, auf is mandatory).


The German phrasing is (etw.) auf einem Instrument spielen, meaning "to play (something) (on) an instrument". As you can see from the inflection of the article, it requires auf in the dative sense, here. This doesn't have anything to do with location, though - prepositions have many other abstract uses besides describing location.

To play something physically located over the drum would be über/oberhalb der Trommel spielen.

Danke quis_lib_duo ;)


In the last paragraph, ITYM über der Trommel spielen or oberhalb der Trommel spielen.


I'm confused about der "großen" Trommel. If it were in the subject, it would be die große Trommel. The die to der shift is easy, but the große to großen shift is confusing.


you should have a look at the topic "adjective inflection". There are three different tables, depending of whether the phrase is introduced by a definite qualifier, an indefinite qualifier or no qualifier at all. http://germanforenglishspeakers.com/adjectives/adjective-declensions/


I don't think the sentence in English is correct. It sounds like the girl's standing on a drum. Shouldn't it be "the little girl plays the big drum"?


I thought 'the little girl' was 'das kleines Mädchen', because the adjective takes on the ending of the article. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


It's not that easy. The ending of the adjective is determined by case, number and gender of the following noun, as well as by the fact if there is no article, a definite article or an indefinite article or possessive in front.
The endings are not always the same as those for the articles.
See the full tables here:


So e.g. it is "ein kleines Mädchen", but "das kleine Mädchen".
As a rule of thumb: if the article already unambiguously denotes the case, the adjective doesn't have the respective ending. "In the given example "das" is unambiguous (can only be neuter), but "ein" is not (could as well be masculine).


But Mädchen is a neuter noun: das Mädchen, so why is the feminine "eine" used?


There is no "eine" in this sentence. Are you talking about "kleine"?
That's not feminine necessarily, it could be either gender. Just look into the table I mentioned in my first comment under "weak inflection" to find the correct form.


Why grossen and not grosse?


This is in correspondence to the inflection table, "weak declension" (dative singular) here because of the definite article:



"the small girl plays a large drum" WRONG. In USA English Duo's correct sentence means- the girl is standing or sitting ON the drum and playing


'Little' v 'small'. What on earth is the difference?


In this case there isn't any. However, little and small are not always interchangable.

I speak a little German. - I speak a small amount of German.
I speak a small German. - Doesn't make any sense.


A) Duolingo does not accept "bass drum" instead of "big drum." While the literal translation is "big drum," the actual usage in German, as indicated in instrumental parts and scores, is "bass drum." Just like we could call a bass drum in English a big drum, that would only be done if someone didn't know the name of the instrument. So, Duo should not only accept bass drum but should even consider making "bass drum" the correct answer and maybe making "big drum" an alternate answer.

If this is not clear, just do a search for "Große Trommel and see what you get.

(And, Kleine Trommel, while technically a "little drum" is the equivalent of a snare drum.)

B) In response to some other comments, here is my opinion on when it is correct to say "play on a drum" versus "play a drum."

The word "on" is often not needed when referring to playing an instrument, and sometimes it does sound strange. However, in my experience as a professional musician, there are situations where using the word "on" is very common.

When we talk of "playing" or performing music, we mean someone is creating music by literally touching, with fingers, hands, feet, mouth, etc. "ON" the instrument. In a similar way, I think people are more likely to say "The girl plays on her computer" than "She plays her computer." The computer is the device upon which a game is played.

That being said, many times, the fact that the music is made on an instrument is assumed to the point where it doesn't sound correct to say it. If someone says, "What instrument are you playing?", it would be unusual to hear, "I'm playing on a violin."

**BUT, and this is where this example is very interesting, when it comes to a percussion section where the percussionists frequently play on various instruments in the same performance or even a single composition, it's very common to hear something like: "she's on bass drum, he's on snare, she's on timpani." The fact that percussion instruments are generally struck with a mallet, stick, or hand also may make using "on" a bit more common for them in particular.

Here's an example using "on" without using "playing." "He's on second trumpet tonight." (He's playing the second trumpet part.)

TO RECAP: A) For anyone who is confused, it should generally be fine to omit "on" when discussing playing an instrument.

B) A Große Trommel is most correctly (though not literally) translated as bass drum.

[For purposes of context only, please note that I am a native speaker of (American) English. I hold a doctorate (highest academic degree) in music and have performed, taught, and composed music for many years. I have performed in Germany and Austria.]


Funny i thought about this girl as well. Remember her playing some song by rage against the machine, Wütend gegen die Machine?


Funny how the male voice in slow mode whistles on "spielt"... XD

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