"Das sind meine ehemaligen Schlüssel."
Translation:These are my old keys.
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1) der Schluss means "end", "conclusion".
2) "sluice" sounds similar, I suspect they come from the same root. In Ukrainian and Russian it's шлюз (mmm, like, "shluz"), also very similar.
3) Schlüssel means "key" and Schloss means "a castle" but actually also means "a lock"
4) Even more surprisingly, in Ukrainian/Russian the former is замо́к (zamók) and the latter is за́мок (zámok), so only the accent is different but the word is kinda the same.
Love these things ^^
"ehemaligen" means they are not your keys any more - maybe because somebody else has them now, or maybe because they have lost their function as keys for some reason - like a dinosaur sat on them, or the house burnt down, or the lock was exchanged,
"alten" means they are still your keys, but somewhere you have got newer ones than these. This sentence conveys no information about whether they are still useful or not.
It's different with friends. "Ein alter Freund" is a friend still.
"Ein ehemaliger Freund" is no friend any more.
Help! is ''ehemaligen'' correct or should it be ''-e''?
The case is nominative, the gender is masculine, the number is plural . If there is no article, it is ''-e''
If ''meine'' counts as an article, then, if definite, it is ''-en'', if indefinite, nothing works.
I deduce that ''meine'' is a definite article, which looks doubtful.
Where am I going wrong?
"mein" a possessive adjective, and its endings are the same as the indefinite article "ein", so for the plural, "meine." So "meine ehemaligen" is correct.
The -en ending on "ehemaligen" indicates that "meine" is NOT the same as it would be for nominative singular (which would "mein.")
I hope that helps.
Since 1996, the ß character is used only after long vowel sounds: http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa092898.htm