The pronoun es (and the demonstrative pronoun das) can be used as subject for sentences with the „equal sign“ sein (to be) for all three genders, singular and plural. The verb has to be inflected according to the real number of the subject.
„Es sind starke Studenten.“
„Es ist ein starker Student.“
I couldn't find any article on this online which is more elaborate than the information provided by canoo.
The grammar volume of the Duden dictionary – not available online, sorry – are more detailed. The condensed translation of the relevant section:
On inflection of articles and pronouns
The neuter form of the pronouns (e.g. es/it, das, dies/that, was/what, welches/which, alles/all, beides/both) know some special usages:
They can refer to more or less extensive parts of a sentence as well as whole sentences:
„Ich weiß ja genau, dass man sich einfrieren lassen kann und in 100 Jahren wieder lebendig aufwacht, aber niemand glaubt es mir.“ – “I know for sure that one can get oneself frozen and will awake again in 100 years alive, but no one believes me that.”
„Susanne will als Reiseleiterin arbeiten. Anita will das auch.“ – “Susanne wants to work as a tour guide. Anita wants that too.”
Related to that is the reference to predicatives and adverbials, like in copula sentences with the verb sein, etc.:
„Ist hier jemand Berliner?“ „Ja, der Trainer ist es.“ – “Is someone from Berlin?” “Yes, the coach is.”
„Anna ist in der Stadt und Otto ist es vermutlich auch.“ – “Anna is in town and presumably so is Otto.”
In copula sentences they can, as subjects, be combined with predicatives of all kinds. But they sometimes do appear in agreement in gender and number:
„Siehst du diese Frau dort? Das (or sie) ist meine Chefin.“ – “Do you see that woman over there? That's my boss.”
„Siehst du den Jungen und das Mädchen dort? Es/das/dies (or: sie) sind meine Kinder.“ – “Do you see the boy and the girl over there? They are my children.”
„Es (or sie) sind starke Studenten.“ – “They are strong students.”
I really do not know either, but looking at Reverso Context it seems that when "es sind" is used it is followed by a noun as the object of verb, but where "sie sind" is used it is followed by an adjective or adverbial phrase (i.e. not a noun) after the verb. I do not know if this is a rule or not but it might help a bit. http://context.reverso.net/traduction/anglais-allemand/they+are
Binweg has explained the difference between the two, quite clearly in my opinion. He has also indicated that without any additional context both answers should be acceptable. If yours was not accepted - report it using the appropriate button; this thread is not useful for that. So I am really not certain what additional information you are looking for here. (And lastly, I am not your pal.)
As far as I'm aware of, there is only one important difference between the two sentences „Es sind starke Studenten.“ and „Sie sind starke Studenten.“
es can never be an emphasized pronoun. I.e. you can not use the pronoun like you would use a demonstrative determiner to distinguish one entity from another…
speaking to a teammate at contest with different universities taking part, commenting your next opponent: „Sie sind starke Studenten. Wir sind nur Mittelmaß.“ – “They are strong students. We're just mediocre.”
Apart from that, I guess that you can choose which variant to pick. At least I can't think of any situation where you have to pick a specific one right now.
native german here. it only means physically strong. if the intended meaning was academically gifted, you'd say es sind begabte Studenten. if they have high marks, they're gute studenten. and remember: the usage of the german word Student is limited to university students...
Maybe you're thinking of „Es gibt…“
There is the possibility to use the pronoun es as a placeholder in front of the sentence if you put the subject after the verb. This construction might, depending on the context of course, be also translated as „There are…“, but „Es sind…“ in general does not translate to „There are…“
„Es sind Hindernisse auf der Strecke.“ – „There are obstacles on the track.“
meaning the same as „Hindernisse sind auf der Straße.“
Declension is the inflection (changing the form of a word) of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, numerals, and articles to indicate number, case, and/or gender.
In this situation the declension of the adjective stark:
„Es ist ein starker Student“ – “He's a strong student.”
„Sie ist eine starke Studentin.“ – “She's a strong student.”
„Es sind starke Studenten.“ – “They are strong students.”
„Es sind starker Studenten.“ isn't grammatically valid.
„Dieser Student ist stark.“ – “This student is strong.”
„Jener Student ist stärker.“ – “That student is stronger.”
In both of these examples the adjective is used as a predicate and predicative adjectives don't get inflected according to the gender, number or case of the noun.
But the word starker does also exist as an inflection of the positive stark when it's used as an attribute in front of a noun:
„Das ist ein starker Student.“ – “This is a strong student.”
„Das ist eine starke Frau.“ – “This is a strong woman.”
„Das ist ein starkes Kind.“ – “This is a strong child.”
The -er/-e/-es endings in the sentence above are the result of the attributive inflection. The word translate to the positive strong. If you wanted to use the comparative with attributive inflection, you would have do add an additional -er- after the stem, in front of the attributive ending. And stark still requires the umlaut in the comparative.
„Das ist ein stärkerer Student.“ – “This is a stronger student.”
„Das ist eine stärkere Frau.“ – “This is a stronger woman.”
„Das ist ein stärkeres Kind.“ – “This is a stronger child.”
„Es sind starke Studenten.“ – “They are strong students.” (positive adjective, attributive inflection)
„Es sind stärkere Studenten.“ – “They are stronger students.” (comparative, attributive inflection)
„Die Studenten sind stark.“ – “The students are strong.” (positive, no inflection due to predicative usage)
„Die Studenten sind stärker.“ – “The students are stronger.” (comparative, no inflection due to predicative usage)
As far as the pronunciation is concerned:
stark as in „Der Student ist stark.“ sounds like the English to mark
starker as in „ein starker Student“ sounds like the English marker, naively transcribed with ending -ka
starke as in „eine starke Frau“ i would transcribe with -keh
I have no suitable equivalent to the word stärker, but a sample spoken by a human is available at forvo.
I have answered "It is strong students" and it has not been accepted. Now, that would actually be correct English if this excerpt were a part of a sentence: "It is strong students who make the job of a teacher easier". So my question is, would a German use "es sind starke Studenten ..." or "es ist starke Studenten ..." in such a construction?
Something like "They are stro students." It doesn't mean anything fancy; it's just wrong. You only use "stark" without an ending if it's at the end of a sentence, like "Sie sind stark." If you are placing it in the middle of a sentence, before a noun (as in this sentence), you have to add an ending to it. As for what ending . . . I recommend reading this: https://yourdailygerman.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/adjective-declension-german/
Careful how you explain this:stark can be used without an ending in the middle of a sentence in some situations.
When used as an adverb: stark reduziert.
When after "is/are" but not at the end of a sentence: Die Studenten sind stark und jung. Die Studenten sind stark, obwohl sie selten anwesend sind.
Attributive adjectives – i.e. adjectives in front of a noun – have different inflection types depending on the determiner (article or possessive pronoun) in front of it. The Wikipedia article and canoo.net have comparisons of them.
You use so called weak inflection after a definite article:
„Das sind die starken Studenten.“ – “These are the strong students.”
If there's no determiner in front then you have to use strong inflection:
„Das sind starke Studenten.“ – “These are strong students.”
With an indefinite article, a possessive pronoun or the indefinite pronoun kein in front you'd use mixed inflection:
„Das sind keine starken Studenten.“ – “These aren't strong students.”
Hi everyone. Thank you very much for this great thread.
I have read all the discussion, and found lots of great comments and questions. I will try to organize, and hopefully summarize, the relevant aspects of the discussion. I will be kind of repetitive, in order to be clear.
It is possible to say 'Es sind Studenten', right? If that's possible, I think a better and easier way to explain this, would be to just use the 'Es sind Studenten' construction. Then move to the construction 'Es sind starke Studenten'. Setting the 'starke' issue aside, we can focus on the 'Es sind Studenten' construction first. When that's clear, then we can move to the 'starke' part.
'Es sind Studenten' = 'They are (university) students'
--About meaning (and usage): As binweg already said, the construction could be: 'Es/das/dies sind Studenten'. Using any of those will not result in a dramatic change of meaning. With this construction, you would be describing something or stating a fact. They are students PERIOD.
Now, when you say 'Sie sind Studenten', there is indeed a change. This construction implies a comparison or a relation, of some sort, to another entity, something said before or (I guess) known by the listener/reader. With this construction, you would be describing something or stating a fact, but in relation to some other entity. THEY are students (not those next to them). OR, They are students (as opposed to others, that are only workers).
--About usage (and meaning): As said before, If I had to explain this (please, tell me if this is not correct), I would say that 'Es sind Studenten' is a more descriptive sentence, focusing on the students (in this case). That explains why I found a lot of entries on the Wikipedia that had the 'Es sind...' at the very first paragraph (and many were the first thing said in the paragraph). They basically were saying 'They are this..', 'They are that...'.
On the other hand, 'Sie sind Studenten' is focusing on the relation between these and anything else (e.g. these are students, those there, are not). That explains why when I looked for 'Sie sind' in Wikipedia, most of the sentences were explicitly comparing things, like 'They are one of the biggest...', 'They are the most...', etc. The construction was even used when listing features of a group (bullet points) without an explicit comparison, but an implicit one, implying an 'as opposed to others' description: 'They are this...'; 'they are that...'.
Hope this works as a summary. Please do tell me if there's anything (or everything) wrong!, haha.
PS: I leave the 'starke' issue for another comment.
In English, a "student" can be of any age/grade, but in German, "Studenten" are only university students. While it's true that, in English, when we know we are talking about university students, we don't usually feel the need to say it explicitly, I think Duo, quite rightly, has wanted to remind us of this more restricted meaning. I would like to say that perhaps Duo has now decided we've "got it", but it's probably more likely someone just didn't think to put the modifier in ;-)
I was taught the same. I use to overuse "es gibt", then my German friends told me to switch to "es ist" or "es sind". They use it often, that's why this exercise has baffled me.
I was also told that "das sind..." = those/these/they are...
In fact, most exercises on this skill use "das sind..." Only two in the skill use "es sind...."
Confusing! Could anyone please explain when to use "es sind..." or "das sind..." to mean "those/these/they are..." ?
This is due to the declination of adjectives preceding nouns, something that, like the various definite and indefinite articles, must simply be memorized. Yay German!
When you have a plural noun with a definite or indefinite article, the adjective receives an 'en' ending - e.g. 'die / einige starkEN Katzen". When there is no article, the adjective receives a 'e' declination - e.g. 'starkE Studenten'.
Hope that helps, there is some logic to it but it's basically another table to memorize.
I presume both sentences (with and without "die") could be legitimate, in the same way that doth "They are strong students." and "They are the strong students." are legitimate sentences. The meanings are different though: "They are strong students." Tells us about the students' strength while "They are the strong students." picks out the students who are strong.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you could say: "Es sind starke Studenten, die keine Angst haben, Fehler zu machen" and it would mean "It is strong students who aren't afraid of making mistakes." You're not referring to a known group of people, but rather saying the same as "Strong students are the ones who aren't afraid of making mistakes." Since it's not a group of people that you've already brought up in context, you would not use "they" in English, but rather you would say "It is strong students." Given the lack of context for this sentence, I assert that "It is strong students" should also be an accepted translation.
...Although looking back at my own answer, I wrote "They are strong students" because I knew it would be accepted. It did occur to me that the above is true, though. We would also say things in English like "It's not all bad people in this group; some of us are honest and upright." You wouldn't likely write this example in an essay, but my first example you would.
There are three different declension types for attributive adjectives:
weak declension for when there is a definite article
mixed declension for when there is indefinite article or a possessive determiner
strong declension for when there is no article.
nominal plural for both weak and mixed types would indeed have an -en suffix:
weak: „Es sind die starken Studenten.“ – “They are the strong students.”
mixed: „Es sind meine starken Studenten.“ – “They are my strong students.”
But strong inflection has an -e suffix for nominative plural:
„Es sind starke Studenten.“ – “They are strong Students.”