28 Comments This discussion is locked.
The indefinite article "a/an" and the number "one" is in this position translated with "ein". You have to consider the grammatical gender - and the case, because " haben" requires Akkusativ.
I have a/one book - Ich habe ein Buch. (ein Buch, neutral)
I have an/one hour. - Ich habe eine Stunde. (eine Stunde, femminine)
I have a/one table. - Ich habe einen Tisch. (ein Tisch, masculine)
It has to do with the case the noun is in. There are four cases in German - nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive. Nominative is the subject, accusative the direct object, dative the indirect object, and genitive is possessive or a noun modifying a noun. For now, I would just worry about nominative and accusative. This may be slightly overkill, but here's my explanation of the usage of nominative and accusative.
Nominative case: When the noun is the subject of the sentence, meaning it is the thing doing the action. In the sentence, "The girl eats the apple", the subject is 'the girl', so the article will take the nominative case.
For the nominative case, die is for feminine and plural nouns, der is for masculine nouns, and das is for neuter nouns. You will use (k)eine for feminine and plural nouns and ein for masculine and neuter nouns.
Accusative case: When the noun is the direct object of the sentence, meaning it receives the action. In the earlier sentence, 'the apple' is the direct object, so it will take on the accusative case.
For the accusative case, die is for feminine and plural nouns, den is for masculine nouns, and das is for neuter nouns, meaning the only change is der goes to den. The only change from nominative for ein and eine is that masculine nouns use einen instead of ein.
"Das Mädchen isst den Apfel" and "Den Apfel isst das Mädchen" BOTH mean "The girl eats the apple", as the article 'den' implies that the apple is the direct object of the sentence.
"Das Mädchen isst der Apfel" and "Der Apfel isst das Mädchen" BOTH mean "The apple eats the girl", as the article 'der' implies that the apple is the subject of the sentence.
Hope this helps!
„Du hast…“ is 2nd person singular
„Ihr habt…“ is 2nd person plural
And there is also the formal you variant which is identical to the 3rd person plural with the exception that the pronoun is always capitalized and not just at the beginning of the sentence: „Sie haben…“ for both addressing a single person as well as a group of people.
And I'd like to point out that all of these pronouns are nominative case („subject case“). As you mentioned, ihr can also mean her, but only for a different grammatical case and not an option for the translation of the sentence given above but for something like this one:
„Ich gebe ihr ein Buch.“ – “I give her a book.”
ihr being dative case („indirect object case“) in this sentence translates to her and can not translate to you.
The subject of a sentence uses the Nominative case, the objects use Accusative, Dative or Genitive case. Because in English the sequence "Subject - Verb - Object" is fix, there was no need for cases anymore.
But in German the cases show, which part of a sentence a noun has. So the position of a noun in a sentence can be flexible.
Instead of "Du hast ein Buch" it is also possible to say "Ein Buch hast du", if you want to focus on the book.
The Subject rules the Verb.
"Du hast ein Buch." or "Ein Buch hast du".
=> "hast" is the 2nd Person Singular of "haben", so it can only fit with "du"
=> "du" is the subject, "Buch" is the object.
"Das Buch hat weisse Seiten." or "Weisse Seiten hat das Buch."
=> "hat" is the 3rd Person Signular of "haben", so it can only fit because "weisse Seiten" is a plural and would require 3rd Person Plural.
=> "das Buch" is the subject, "weisse Seiten" the object.
Hi I was wondering if someone can please explain to me why it can also be "Du besitzt ein Buch"? I was typing quickly and left off the "t" in "hast" and when it corrected me, it put "Du besitzt ein Buch" as the top correction and "Du hast ein Buch" underneath it. I don't understand why this would be so. Thank you!