Is this a figure of speech (possibly meaning, "She is writing him a long letter/note")? Or is is just a sentence that Duolingo uses to help people get used to conjugation and word order?
I thought it was the equivalent of "she is writing a book for him." Or maybe like we would say, "She didn't write him a letter, she wrote him a freaking novel." Or something. I dunno, but it's a plausible if not commonly used sentence...
I think this sentence is the result of spaced repetition. You can write someone a book, but it is more common to write someone a letter or an email.
Here's an excerpt from a review of Sibilla Aleramo's book Una Donna (A Woman)
- ... Like Aleramo herself, the protagonist of A Woman is an autodidact who uses education to turn herself into a writer and thereby liberate herself from her marriage. But she does so at high cost: she has to leave her son behind. ... cut off from her son, she writes him a book.
It's uncommon, but it's normal English in the right context. A Google search for "writes him a book" (including the quotation marks) provides many examples of how this can be used.
Ii is not a figure of speech nor anything, it is just computer-generated nonsense.
It may not be a real-life sentence but it's grammatically correct. And grammar is an abstract thing, is it not? This is a good example of how an example sentence focuses on the relationships between words in a sentence, rather than the more concrete objects and actions these words might represent.
This is probably why Duolingo has such whacky sentences. Ah, Duolingo. We love you so.
If all Duo's examples were in the vernacular as you seem to suggest they should be, we wouldn't be able to deal with them.
Most of Duo's material is quotes from a variety of sources. By necessity, for any student at this level, it is restricted in its use of tense, vocabulary, grammar and meaning.
However, in this case it doesn't take too much imagination to believe that somewhere at this very moment, a female is writing a book with a male person as the intended target.
Why "ihm" and not "ihn"?? I dont rrally understand what accusative/dative means
Well i still don't understand dative, but accusative is the same as object. If something is the object of a verb it is accusative. Took me a while to figure that out. I didn't learn it as accusative. I was just taught the object of a sentence.
You are arguing that the pronoun "ihm" is correct because it is the object of the sentence and therefore takes the accusative case. But "ihn" is the accusative and "ihm" is the dative! No, the answer is more complex because in German it depends on what kind of object.
The reason this takes the dative case "ihm" is because in the sentence "She writes him a book", "him" is the INDIRECT OBJECT and this takes the dative case.
I flubbed the "ein" still don't understand. Plwase somebody explain why it's "ein".
"Das Buch" is the direct object of the sentence, so "Buch" would take an accusative neuter pronoun. The accusative neuter form of "ein" is "ein."
Was there actually a way to tell with the answer was "schreibt" or "schreiben" ? from what I can see, there is no one to tell.
"Sie schreiben" means either "you write" or "they write". "Sie schreibt" only fits with "she writes".
Yes, but the question I was given was to select which word was missing: "Sie __ ihm ein Buch." The options were "schreiben, schreibt, schreibst, ect". How is one supposed to know if it is "Schreibt" or "schreiben" based on that information?
No, it asks you to choose all correct options for the multiple choice. There is no way to do that for the fill in the blank exercise. This should be reported, but someone please take a screenshot of this and add it to the report.
Sie schreibt would mean she writes, it the conjugation of the verb schreiben which means writing
"schreiben can be the infinitive "to write" and it is also the plural conjugation of the verb.
Ihm and ihn! I thought i knew when to use which but i keep getting it wrong now? Any tips when and why you use one or the other?
In general, if a verb can take two objects, one is accusative and one is dative. A few select German verbs like fragen, lehren, and kosten take two accusative objects, but they are exceptions to the rule. There aren't many others like them, so you just have to memorize them.
Similarly, if a reflexive verb, e.g. sich erkälten (to catch a cold) takes an object (other than sich), the sich becomes dative: Du hast dich erkältet. Du hast dir die Blase erkältet. (You caught a cold. You got a chill in your bladder.)
The indirect object is always "Dative case", but there are also some verbs that require Dative. Many prepositions require Dative, but some require Accusative and a few require Genitive. There are some prepositions that can be used with Dative or Accusative for different meanings.
Since it appears to be a dative case sentence, why is "ein Buch" not "einer Buch" ?
In this sentence 'ihm' is dative and 'Buch' is accusative (it is whay is being written). 'Buch' is a neuter noun soit takes 'ein' in the accusative case.
You can think of the sentence as "She writes a book for him (or to him)". Now you see that the 'book' becomes accusative, and the 'him' becomes dative. Hope this clears it up :)
Sentences are not dative, each noun or pronoun is either in Nominative, Accusative, Dative or Genitive case. The subject and the predicate nominative which comes after the verb "to be" or "sein" in German are in Nominative case.
The subject "Sie" is in Nominative case. The direct object "book" in this sentence is in Accusative case and the indirect object "ihm" is in Dative case. Scroll up for some links that are really helpful to learn German cases and when to use the Dative case.
regarding the word order.. does accusative always follow the dative or is it flexible? as in this sentence ein Buch ( akku.) comes after ihm (dat.)... is it wrong to write.. Sie schreibt ein Buch ihm ??
Usually the dative noun (or pronoun or noun phrase) comes before the accusative one. It's not technically wrong to change that order (because the grammar of the cases normally gives the receiver enough information to understand which is which), but it sounds really weird, so try to avoid it.
However, if one of them is a pronoun then it always comes before the other one if it is a noun. Here is a great link that helps with German word order: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~deutsch/Grammatik/WordOrder/MainClauses.html
this was confusing because i thought i heard "in" instead of "ihm" since it made more sense in my head that she writes in a book instead of writing someone a book xD
Fun fact: "Sie schreibt die Geschichte in ein Buch" would mean writing in a physical, printed book (or perhaps making journal/diary entries), while "Sie schreibt die Geschichte in einem Buch" would refer to authoring the content of the book itself. In English, there's no such distinction; either of these sentences could be translated as "She's writing the story in a book."
hmm that is interesting. so just for clarification, if i wrote "ich schreibe in ein buch" i would just be writing in an actual book(whether its pages are blank or not) but "ich schreibe in einem buch" would mean im writing a book(or content of) myself?
Right! Although normally in the case of "in einem Buch", you would also have some kind of direct object, like "die Geschichte", or prepositional object, e.g. "Ich schreibe in einem Book über das Thema" // I'm writing (in) a book about the subject. <-- [I put "in" in parentheses because the sentence works with or without it.] If you just want to say you're writing a book (without describing what's in it), you don't use "in" at all: "Ich schreibe ein Buch".
How to say "she is writing a book to him"? Why in this sentence can't we use "von ihm" to say "for him"?
This sentence can be translated this way also, so there is no need to change the German sentence.
You have a couple of options:
- Sie hat ihm ein Buch geschrieben. [Perfekt]
- Sie schrieb ihm ein Buch. [Präteritum]
Nope! Just check the conjugation of the verb to confirm whether "Sie" means "She" or "You/They":
- Sie schreibt ihm ein Buch ↔ She is writing him a book.
- Sie schreiben ihm ein Buch ↔ You/They are writing him a book.
No, I don't think that can be grammatically correct. When a verb takes a dative object and an accusative object, and you place them both after the verb, the dative object should come first.
Not always, but more importantly if one of them is a pronoun and the other a noun, the pronoun always comes first. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~deutsch/Grammatik/WordOrder/MainClauses.html
This also translates as she writes a book for him, right?
Now obviously this can mean that she is writing a book that she intends to give him. But in English we can also say she is writing a book for him meaning that she is writing the book on his behalf (because, he is disable, or he is illiterate, or he is dead and she is writing his reminiscences down as a memoir).
Is sie schreibt ihm ein Buch the correct way to say that she is writing a book for him in this latter sense?
The male voice, from which I had to translate, sounded like "Sie schreibt in mein Buch."
How do you know that "ihm" represents "him" and not "it"? Theoretically, she could be writing a book for a pet or an inanimate object.
They expect the indirect object to be a person. It would never be an inanimate object. If the pet is being treated as a person, then it would still be "him" unless it was "her".
"She writes a book for him" is most certainly a correct translation of the most common meaning of "Sie schreibt ihm ein Buch". Without any other context, most people would assume that is the meaning of the German sentence. I think the German sentence could also be translated as "She writes a book to him", but I'm not totally sure. Even if it can be translated that way, that meaning would be less common than the other and wouldn't work without context.
Oh... I thought it was " she writes about him in a book"... That was wrong.
This is not a very likely sentence. I would rather learn the language using phrasing I might actually use.
And then someone says to you something that you don't expect, and you completely misunderstand them, because you have not really learnt how the language can be used, but only how to repeat the set phrases that you planned to use!