Das Mädchen hat seinen eigenen Teller.
"The girl has her own plate."
Why seinen is it simply because Mädchen is a neuter noun? Or am I missing something bigger? Thanks in advance.
Well, "seinen" is used due to the gender of the noun. However, if you happen to come to Germany or to meet a German you will notice that a lot of people will use "ihren" just because she is a girl (and not a neuter in person). ;-))
and it is neuter because of its diminutive suffix -chen.
It's "seinen" because of "das Mädchen:
- Das Mädchen hat seinen eigenen Teller.
Der Junge hat seinen eigenen Teller.
Die Frau hat ihren eigenen Teller.
Die Männer haben ihre eigenen Teller.
But Mädchen means "girl" so it is counter-intuitive for me. I see that you don't have seinen for "Frau", and "die Männer" should be seinen according to my mind. So do all masc. and neuter nouns use seinen; and plural and fem. use ihren and ihre respectively?
Hallo Again, Slam. Counter-intuitive, certainly, but don't worry, you will grow new reflexes :)
Many, many people stumbled just like you on this "neuter girl" (and probably even some German don't totally wrap their heads around it, as they tend to substitute the biological gender to the grammatical one, as Birgit said). If it helps you, it's because "Mädchen" is not the actuel word, but a diminitive of the now lost "die Madg", a cognate of "maid". The "chen" ending always (well, there may be exceptions just to keep us on our toes) makes the word, whatever its original gender, neuter.
And very much yes, the plural forms are often similar to the feminine ones.
So it would be "der Mann hat seinen eigenen Teller" (one man, one plate);
"der Mann hat seine eigenen Teller" (one man, several plates);
"die Männer haben ihren eigenen Teller" (several men, one shared plate, but specific to their group, perhaps a ceremonial plate)
and "die Männer haben ihre eigenen Teller" (many men, one plate each).
The ending of the possessive article depends on the gender of the possessed thing (plural is the same, depending on case, not gender).
This helps a lot. My brain is starting to rewire itself right now! Danke.
Good, that's the way it shall go! Always glad to help (when I can), never hesitate to ask :)