"Ich mag seine ersten Bücher."

Translation:I like his first books.

July 3, 2013



You know, this reminds me when I was a kid, and we would ask my father "Daddy, why are you doing that?" "To make you ask questions."

So, "erste" is an adjective. We don't yet know from adjectives. I found some pages on adjectives; seems they take an -en ending in the plural when preceded by ein- or kein- or by a possessive determiner (seine), and this situation is called "mixed inflection."


Anyone know where the terms "weak inflection", "mixed inflection", and "strong inflection" come from? Or refer to?

I find it a lot easy to remember grammatic terms when I have a little context for what they mean, or at the very least, how they got to be called by that most peculiar term.

July 23, 2013


Easier way to know adjective endings (my teacher side is coming out)! I have 3 rules for being able to add (or recognize) the correct ending when an adjective precedes the noun.

-Big 3 get an -e (der, die, das) der alte Mann, das kleine Kind, die schöne Frau

-Changin' gets -en (plural and case changes) den alten Mann (accusative), der schönen Frau (dative), die kleinen Kinder (plural)

-No 'the'? Adjective takes over (no 'der' word or just an 'ein') Kaltes Wetter gefällt mir nicht (das Wetter). Ein guter Mann ist schwer zu finden (der Mann).

Now the only tricky part is knowing which 'the' word your noun has :)

July 24, 2013


Can you please put this post in a discussion in the main page of this skill so we can get back to it easily ?

December 6, 2013


I couldn't understan, really, what "big 3", "Changin'" means...could you clarify it please? Danke Schön!

November 29, 2013


The "big 3" are: der (masculine nominative), das (neuter nominative and accusative) and die (feminine nominative and accusative). If there is a change from these (a change to plural or a change to another case), then it gets the -en ending. I hope that helps.

December 26, 2013


really helps!

May 24, 2019


forgot to say, THANKS!

May 24, 2019


Nice. Have a lingot.

The only deviations I see, based on the Wikipedia pages, are:

  1. "Der" as a genitive plural takes -en: Ich mag die Katzen der ersten Brüder.

  2. "Die" as a plural takes -en: Ich mag die zweiten Brüder.

  3. In the mixed declension (no "the"), all plurals take -en: Ich mag seine ersten Bücher.

September 1, 2014


Thank you! So "changin" means the "der" word has changed from the nominative singular, correct?

This beats that Wikipedia article all hollow.

July 24, 2013


The "big 3" will change as follows:

Masculine changes to "den" in accusative and "dem" in dative - Ex: Der große Fernseher (the big TV). Ich habe den/einen großen Fernseher. Ich sitze vor dem großen Fernseher.

Neuter only changes to "dem" in the dative, accusative remains "das" (so still big 3) - Ex: Das schmutzige Fenster (the dirty window). Ich sehe das schmutzige Fenster (accusative, but unchanged). Der Tisch steht unter dem schmutzigen Fenster.

Feminine only changes to "der" in the dative, so again the accusative "die" remains the same - Ex. Die schöne Frau (the beautiful woman). Ich sehe die schöne Frau (accusative). Ich helfe der schönen Frau (the verb 'helfen' takes the dative case).

Anything plural is changed from der/das/die to plural "die" - Ex. Die schönen Frauen trinken Wein.

I'm glad to be helpful and thrilled to beat Wikipedia ;)

July 24, 2013


I wish Duolingo had useful tips like these for the German course.

August 24, 2014


I wish DUO would link the best and of course correct hints/tips/weblinks etc. to the relevant subject for learning assistance or reference.

Comments from: wataya, sakasiru, christian, jess1camar1e, are always worth reading! :-)

The comments have a lot of good stuff on it, but also a lot of dubious comments.

It would be a peace of cake on a web-based database like the one we are learning on.

Not to forget a lingot for: jess1camar1e

August 24, 2014



I agree that linking to resources would be great, but I'd much rather just have that information on Duolingo itself. The Dutch course was the first one to go in-depth with grammar explanations, and now the French course is following suit.


One would hope that it is only a matter of time until the German course follows suit.

August 24, 2014


@ zach, tanks for that, yep I agree partly. Some resources are so comprehensive or special (like the meanings of "doch",


that it would take years for DUO to integrate them I am afraid, but well I am getting your point.

Your link is good news for me as I am starting now with French and Dutch, thanks.

August 24, 2014


Very helpful!! Have a lingot :)

June 3, 2014


Got it! Thank you! So to summarize -- changin' means the definite article (der, die, das) differs -- has changed -- from its nominative singular form.

July 24, 2013


Well yes, but as I explained in the examples, "das" and "die" do not change in the accusative either, so those stay the "big 3". Masculine changes in acc. & dat., neuter and feminine change only in the dat., and all change in the plural.

July 24, 2013


Great post, thank you!

August 22, 2013


Thank you++

January 26, 2014


Hi, jess1camar1e, a have a question that others might have as well: In the example you gave "Ich habe den/einen großen Fernseher", when you choose "einen" shouldn't it be "einen großer Fernsehen" in order to agree to your 3rd basic rule? (-No 'the'? Adjective takes over (no 'der' word or just an 'ein') Ein guter Mann ist schwer zu finden (der Mann).

April 24, 2015


That example (with the 'Fernseher') actually falls under the 2nd rule (changin' gets -en) because the 'Fernseher' (TV) is the (accusative) object of the sentence, and the 'einEN' shows that. With the indefinite article 'ein' and its various forms, it can be tricky, but I hope that provides some clarity.

April 24, 2015


That's not the point, HelcioTJ. I'm talking about being "großes" (das Kleid, accusative but meets #3 rule) while "großen" (der Fernseher, accusative but meets #2 rule).

My question here is related to her previous answer "In this sentence, 'das Kleid' is indeed accusative. However, since it is preceded by the article 'ein' and not 'das', it takes the strong declination or 'rule #3' (-es) rather than the weak (-e) 'rule #1'. Your example could go either way with the article.: Die Großmutter trägt ein großes Kleid. -OR- Die Großmutter trägt das große Kleid."

If we put it into dative: ...mit dem großen Fernseher ...mit dem großen Kleid ...mit einem großem Fernseher ...mit einem großem Kleid

I think now I got it: rule #3 follows the gender but also the declination, right? The confusion here is because "großen" is the same for rule #2 masculine accusative and rule #3 masculine accusative:

Ich habe den großen Fernseher (großen obbeys to rule #2) Ich habe einen großen Fernseher (großen obbeys to rule #3)

April 24, 2015


So why in "Die Großmutter trägt ein großes Kleid" we have rule #3, as both phrases are in accusative? Does it have something to do with strong or weak declination?

April 24, 2015


"So why in "Die Großmutter trägt ein großes Kleid" we have rule #3, as both phrases are in accusative?"

Kleid is not a masculine noun as Ferneseher is. Kleid is neuter.

April 24, 2015


Your 'Teacher side came out' and saved the day! Thanks a LOT! :D

October 23, 2014


(I've edited my summary for clarity in response to your last response -- thanks! )

July 24, 2013


Thank you fromTrebor

March 19, 2014


Awesome explanation, thanks!

March 30, 2014


That was FAN freakin TASTIC! but the last part i didnt totally get. could you please explain and use simple words in your examples like cat and dog etc. thank you so much for your time

April 10, 2014


Which last part do you mean? I posted a couple of things so I want to make sure I give you the explanation you need :)

April 11, 2014


This part. I didnt get what "adjective takes over" meant. and I also didnt get your examples at all. No 'the'? Adjective takes over (no 'der' word or just an 'ein') Kaltes Wetter gefällt mir nicht (das Wetter). Ein guter Mann ist schwer zu finden (der Mann).

April 11, 2014


Sometimes there will not be a definite article (der, das, etc.).

I can say something like "Der braune Hund ist alt (The brown dog is old)." The adjective 'braun' gets an -e because 'der' is one of the "big 3" (Rule #1). We can change it to "Ich sehe den braunen Hund (I see the brown dog)" and the 'braun' gets an -en because 'der' has changed to 'den' (Rule #2).

If there is not a definite article (either no article or an indefinite 'ein'), the adjective "takes over". Using the same brown dog, I can say A (not THE) brown dog: "Ein brauner Hund..." In this case, 'braun' has to show us the -er that 'der' would have (Rule #3).

I hope that this helps to clear it up!

April 11, 2014


How would you respond to this then: "Swei Grose Tassen Kaffee, Bitte" Shouldn't it be "Grosen" since Tassen is plural? I followed your rules and still got this question wrong... Thanks

July 10, 2014


Because the plural here does not have an article (die), the adjective acts like the article (die = -e, rather than changing to -en). The issue may have been the spelling mistakes in your original sentence. It should read "Zwei große Tassen Kaffee, bitte". If you cannot make the 'ß', use 'ss' (grosse).

July 13, 2014


Press ALT and hold, then press 225 (in the NUMPAD, this is important), you will get a ß. :)

October 23, 2014


Alt+0223 works on my keyboard!

January 5, 2015


i would use ß instead of ss, as it can confuse certain words. For instance, Maße and Masse mean two different things.

August 28, 2014


Of course, but like I said, if one can't make the ß (keyboard can't do it, doesn't know how, etc.), one would substitute it with a double, rather than a single, 's'. The same would go for website addresses, because ß is not used in URLs.

August 29, 2014


i LOVE your explanation, it's really helpful, thank you! But I can't see how your rules apply for this specific case "Ich mag seine ersten Bücher." :( I understand we must use the third rule since there is no definite prounoun. But shouldn't it be ERSTE Bucher, since it's "Ich mag DIE Bucher" in the accusative case? I'm really confused!

July 23, 2014


In this case, the "seine" (his) is the article, so it's actually rule #2 (changing to plural for Bücher). The articles get a bit trickier when you get into 'ein-words' (ein, kein, mein, unser, etc.) until you get familiar with them.

August 4, 2014


I understand it now, thank you very much!!!

August 4, 2014


But how come 'Die Grorossmutter tragt ein grossES kleid' is correct? I thought this was a accusative case..?

March 30, 2015


In this sentence, 'das Kleid' is indeed accusative. However, since it is preceded by the article 'ein' and not 'das', it takes the strong declination or 'rule #3' (-es) rather than the weak (-e) 'rule #1'. Your example could go either way with the article.: Die Großmutter trägt ein großes Kleid. -OR- Die Großmutter trägt das große Kleid.

March 30, 2015


This comment is brilliant! Thank you!

May 10, 2015


Great. Have a lingot.

March 10, 2018


Wonderful! Thanks

August 16, 2019, 7:19 PM


As for the reason for strong, mixed and weak: I think it is just a case of how much information is told by the adjective. A strongly inflected adjective tells you everything you need to know about a noun's gender, number and case. A weakly inflected one tells you very little (as the definite article tells you everything). An adjective with mixed inflection tells you some information, but 'mixed' with the indefinite article/possessive article it tells you everything.

August 6, 2013


Here's a great link I found elsewhere in someone's comment. I think it bears repeating: http://www.nthuleen.com/teach/grammar/adjektivendungenexpl.html

August 22, 2013


I do not agree with one point in that article, it is written that "dem" shows the gender. But dem can be for both Masculine and Neutral, so it does not show the gender in my opinion ...

February 2, 2014


The best explanation without any doubt.

March 13, 2014


BLPK, danke schön. Here's a lingot . The site and especially the flow-chart gives the best explanation, I have seen so far. Thanks again !

February 25, 2015


wow, GREAT site, take a lingot ;)

July 18, 2017


Thank you!

August 6, 2013


The way I think about nominative endings is that they want to tell you the gender and number...but not repeatedly (Think: "Germans are precise but not wasteful.") If "der," "das," "die," or "die" precedes a noun...then this article tells you the gender in the singular case. If there is an adjective between the article and noun, then all that is left for its ending to do is to distinguish singular versus plural...that is much less of a task and can be done by a "weaker" ending; add -e for the singular and -en for the plural. For "ein" words, the endings are -e, -e, -en and -en. These lave some ambiguity as to gender (or number), so if there is an adjective between an ein word and the noun, it has a lot of work to do; the endings are -er, -es, -e and -en. Otherwise, if you don't have any article, then you use endings very similar to the article "der," "das," "die" or "die," namely -er, -es, -e and -e. (Accusative endings are the same as nominative except that masculine singular always ends in -en.)

March 3, 2014



August 4, 2019


I like his first book, or I like his earlier books, would sound natural. But the translation does not seem correcto

October 15, 2013


I'm a little confused. First implies singular in English. Should this translate as "First few books" or "First book"? If you have more than one, it is technically first and second at least.

July 3, 2013


Don't you also speak of "taking one's first steps" in English, for example?

July 3, 2013


I would personally say 'first step'. Like 'I lost my first tooth' as opposed to 'teeth'.

July 20, 2013


I'm okay with this translation. In conversation, I'd use "first few books" and "first books" almost interchangeably.

July 3, 2013


I wonder if they mean first set of books? or first series?

December 17, 2013


There can only be one "first book"

October 28, 2013


Since it is his first book,it should be only one book,not books. Do you agree with me?

July 24, 2014


The translation appears right, but the sentence is strange in english. First suggests singular

January 17, 2015


How come it is "ersten" when it is Plural? I though the <-en> was for Singular Masculine.

July 18, 2013


I have an explanation below about adjective endings and how they work (scroll down)

August 9, 2013


This link http://www.nthuleen.com/teach/grammar/nomakkdatexpl.html explains German adjectives nicely

February 28, 2016


Very good, thank you.

March 17, 2016


I've been looking at erstes inflection table: http://www.canoo.net/inflection/erste:A:Ord

And I concluded (hope there's no mistake of mine) the phrase is wrong, so I reported an error.

August 4, 2013


And now I understand what I did. The tables depend on wich articles or pronouns are used. With possessive (seine), all plurals go to ersten.

August 4, 2013


So in this declension table: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/erster#Declension

Does your statement refer to the "mixed declension" section?

November 14, 2013


Yes, when pronouns and undefined articles are used (sein, kein, mein, ein and all eins), we have to use the mixed inflection.

November 14, 2013


Do these rules apply to second third fourth fifth and so on or just for first?

August 11, 2013


Every adjective follow that.

Strong inflection for adjectives without article or pronoun.

Weak for adjectives with definite articles (der, die, das).

Mixed for adjectives with indefinite articles or pronouns.


August 11, 2013


To shorten it out it also has the same reason for einEN apfel. Its accusative.

April 1, 2014


The reason 'ersten' ends in 'en' is because of the plural adjective ending, not to be confused with masculine accusative 'den/einen'

April 11, 2014


Then why is the basic phrase "Good day" spoken as "Guten Tag" and not "Gute Tag"? The way "Gute Nacht" is....

August 11, 2014


Because 'Tag' here is a masculine, and 'Nacht' a feminine, object. The adjective ending has to correspond. (See my 3 rules below)

August 13, 2014


Maybe because they're short for "Haben Sie einen guten Tag" and "Haben Sie eine gute Nacht"?

October 16, 2014


Yeah, that's what I figured. Thanks.

October 27, 2014


I've always assumed something like (Ich wünsche Ihnen) einen guten Tag / eine gute Nacht "I wish you a ....".

But yes, they're in the accusative case because they're the object of some implied verb.

March 19, 2017


This helped me a LOT http://www.nthuleen.com/teach/grammar/adjektivendungenexpl.html the diagram you should memorize (with the path for this specific adjective): http://prntscr.com/3cfnh3

April 22, 2014


I dont understand how this sentence can be correct... When its plural but still saying one...

Is this an english confusion for me or a german...

April 25, 2015


"I really liked his first books, but then he started writing that shlocky crap!"

April 25, 2015


Time taken to find proper adjective ending for "erst": 4 minutes.

But seriously, this thing helped me a TON on adjective endings. http://www.nthuleen.com/teach/grammar/adjektivendungenexpl.html

(First is an attributive adjective, so it must show declension)

April 30, 2015


Can't SEINE also be "her" as well? I am really confused.

August 22, 2013


No, "her" is ihr- (with the appropriate ending, where needed), as @Bearmax used in his example.

August 23, 2013


is it accusative, plural , mixed inflection (coz of the presence of possessive article "seine" ?

September 10, 2013


I think so. I had ersten right but I went and put seinen HA HA HA! I used to know those and now that I learned erst forms, I will have to go back and review possessive declination. I forgot that seine is not the weak or mixed form here.

December 17, 2013


That’s right: accusative plural, mixed inflection.

August 5, 2018


"Ersten" takes -en ending because it is a plural adjective and the -e ending is already shown in the article (seinE). If it hadn't been shown in the article, the -e ending would be then shown in the adjective to indicate the case, as in "brave Kinder" or "gute Männer"… but "die braven Kinder", "die guten Männer".

August 23, 2014


How could something be like "first books"???

August 5, 2018


If an author writes three books in one year, then five more a few years later, then the first three are his first books.

August 5, 2018


To be fair, I expected another word to demonstrate that it is part of a series - for example, "first few books" or "one of his first few books". Perhaps that's just my dialect. "First books" just sounds strange to me.

August 16, 2018


Is it just me, or does it sound like the audio is saying ernsten instead of ersten?

March 24, 2019


I agree to you. It really sounds more like "ernsten" than "ersten". (At least the male voice)


"ernst" is a german word too.

"ernst" is tranlated to "earnest".

And just like "Earnest", "Ernst" is a first name, too. ^^

This saves many important/funny puns in "The importance of being Earnest" (from Oscar Wilde) in the german translation.

April 25, 2019


Yes, the female voice says 'ernsten'; the male voice pronounces it correctly. The slow version of the female voice is also correct.

August 6, 2019


what would her first books be in German?

July 10, 2013


Ich mag ihre ersten Bücher

July 11, 2013


so basically seine is always translated as his? and sein would be?

January 22, 2014


seine is used in this case because it's "Die Bücher"

sein would've been used in the case of "Das Buch"

Ich mag sein erstes Buch.

February 29, 2016

  • 2043

@iwoye : sein, seine (possessive pronoun) = his

January 22, 2014


to me, it will depend on the gender of the noun. eg

  1. sein fahrrad/seinem fahrrad (N)
  2. seine Katze..
  3. sein Ratgeber...

so, will change also with the case. But, i have this doubt, anybody could explain why "sein-e-m/r/s" being a possesive pronoun, will not match under the rules of dative, always.. ?

I got puzzled how in "Sein Fernsehen has kaputt gemacht" , why not "Seinem Fernsehen has kaputt gemacht" .Maybe is a silly question, but i really lost it.

Thanks in advance.

January 26, 2014


How is erste used in differents cases (Acc., etc.) and genders, and how does the plural affect it?

July 17, 2013


Is Duolingo ever going to explain inflection for adjectives, or am I supposed to figure it out through other channels?

September 7, 2013


if you read the comments above you will find this link and several other channels. As someone said in one of the discussions DL is not so hot at instruction. But to repeat: http://www.nthuleen.com/teach/grammar/adjektivendungenexpl.html

September 8, 2013


Quick question... someone could please remember me how to decline possessive determiners? Is it sein for masc and neuter, and seine for fem and plural?

January 11, 2014


that's perfectly right (in nominative case)

January 11, 2014


Could it not be "I like YOUR first books"? Your being in the respectull form?

March 22, 2014


It would be 'Ich mag Ihre ersten Bücher'.

March 23, 2014


I ran into an error where whenever I got the answer wrong the report error function is missing.

December 12, 2017


I put "i like his 1st book" and i didn't get accepted, weird.

July 26, 2019


That's not weird. The sentences given are about "books" and not a single "book".

July 26, 2019


Yeah, i figured.

July 26, 2019


You can only have "one" first book. I don't understand? This is very unique (that's a joke) .

August 15, 2014


I can perfectly say: I like Paulo Coelho's first books ("The Diary of a Magician", "The Alchemist") but I do not like the others.

September 12, 2014


@ maria

Good and correct explanation in my eyes.

"the first books" point to an era or age of the writer it can be for example:

in seinen jungen Jahren, der junge "writers name", between 1967 and 1987, before he/she converted to a different religion, or to mark another milestone in the career of the writer.

Hence it can refer to a single book or to multiple ones.

September 13, 2014


Yes, it is really that.

September 13, 2014


I would like to have all this discussion printed (just don't know how to do it) It's a real masterclass!!!

August 30, 2013


Highlight it (Hold left mouse button down and scroll) copy it (Hold CTRL key and press C key) and paste it (Hold CTRL key and press V key) into a Notepad text file, save it, then you can print it.

December 17, 2013


Thank you, Allintolearning!Obrigado!

January 27, 2014


I would suggest to paste it into a MS word document if 'almazen.14' is using MS office or word. This preserves the formatting {thread structure} (as best as possible) and can be easier cleaned out from obsolete posts or so. That's how I would do it. :-)

April 19, 2014


How do I save this post? Does duo have options like book mark? One way I found is this "Danke!"

September 13, 2014


Kein Problem. First I haven't seen a tool on DUO which does just that, except you follow the discussion which gets you an email every-time things change in the thread and someone replies to your comment. {the button is on to of the thread}

Alternatively copy the link in the browser and save it in an Excel worksheet or Word file together with your own comment so you can find it easily, or just use the bookmark function of your browser and name the bookmark link accordingly when your browser asks you to do so.

Note you can only access {https deep links} when you are logged in to Duolingo!

Hope that helped.

September 14, 2014


This sentence doesn't make any sense !

October 14, 2014
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