A quote of Mark Twain's is relevant here:
"Every noun has a gender, and there is no sense or system in the distribution; so the gender of each must be learned separately and by heart. There is no other way. To do this one has to have a memory like a memorandum-book. In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl. See how it looks in print -- I translate this from a conversation in one of the best of the German Sunday-school books:
Gretchen: Wilhelm, where is the turnip? Wilhelm: She has gone to the kitchen. Gretchen: Where is the accomplished and beautiful English maiden? Wilhelm: It has gone to the opera."
There are patterns with German gender, however, there are many exceptions to those patterns. So it is better to learn the gender with the noun.
But for the above case, with Mädchen, the word is a diminutive. So in English turning dog into doggie would make the word a diminutive. In German, diminutives are always neuter. Words ending in -chen or -lein are diminutives.
A few examples are
das Häus (house) becomes das Häuschen (little or cute house)
der Stern(star) becomes das Sternchen (little star)
die Frau(woman) becomes das Fräulein (young lady)
You can practice these patterns in a new app that is in beta click here to join the beta
In Danish, addressing someone as 'it' is a sign of respect. For example instead of saying "Would you like some water?", you would say "Would they like some water?".
Is it analogous to a butler asking you if "Sir would like his newspaper?"
This is because Das Mädchen is the diminutive form of Die Magd ("the maiden", in old german), and diminutive is always neuter. Nowadays the original form is no longer used, only the diminutive form ("the little maiden"). For obvious reasons I supose.
It's because of the ending - words that end in 'chen' or 'lein' are always neuter (they are the diminutive suffixes). Words in German are only related to gender when they are obvious (like Mann or Frau); otherwise it depends on things like the noun ending or how the noun is formed (i.e. nominalised adjectives/verbs are nearly always neuter).
There are words in German that take their genders from earlier languages or earlier dialects. By example, the ancient greek word for "Book" is "biblion", which has neutral gender, as same as German word "Buch"; also, in ancient greek, most of the words for the offsprings had neutral gender. Maybe for this reason "Kind" and "Madchen" have neutral gender.
They say die is "Feminine The" or used when referring to a female, then why do we use Das wid Madchen??? isnt Madchen i.e. Girl a female??? Plz help... geniune question.
See Mannimoo's reply: "words that end in 'chen' or 'lein' are always neuter (they are the diminutive suffixes). Words in German are only related to gender when they are obvious (like Mann or Frau); otherwise it depends on things like the noun ending or how the noun is formed (i.e. nominalised adjectives/verbs are nearly always neuter)."
The German "a" (with no Umlaut) is pronounced "ah", and with an Umlaut it is like "air" but without pronouncing the 'R'.
"Even though the concept Mädchen (girl) describes a female, the word itself is neuter and takes the neuter article das." I don't get it..
The reason for that lies in the etymological origin of the word. "Mädchen" is a diminutive of "Maid", so it actually means little maid. Diminutives in German (words ending on -chen or -lein) are ALWAYS neuter.
I'm going to ask a weird question based off of previous comments, specifically Brenda Olsen's (great explanation, thanks!). If Frau turns to Fräulein, how do you know when to turn 'a' to 'ä' in that? I've noticed this with other German words as well when going from singular to plural.
With plurals: you just have to learn it, for the most part. Some plurals involve umlaut, others don't.
With -lein and -chen: these mostly put umlaut on the preceding vowel if that's possible. But not completely always -- so effectively you just have to learn the diminutive form explicitly as well, and know whether it has umlaut or not.
Not really, "maid" is more like a female servant. You would translate it with "Magd" or "Maid", a medieval expression for a woman.
I said das mad chen. It still let me in! I said mad not as in maid, but as in angry mad.
Maybe Duo OK'd it, but that pronunciation is so bad you probably wouldn't be understood. It sounds more like "MAY-chen."
Thank you for explaining that the ending of the nouns can change from feminine die to the neuter das .
Spanish is my first language so the English article "the" was a piece of cake for me. But now with German a whole new level has been added, lol. It's a bit hard because of the neuter article "Das"
So level of difficulty: (English 1 "the") (Spanish 2 "el" "la") (German 3 "der" "die" "das")
anyone willing to explain a little bit about the difference between "indefinite" and "definite" word in English? Neither German nor English is my first languange.
@ ayfania, I don't know how long ago it is when you asked this question, or if you have received the answer. Indefinite in English means something that's vague, obscure and in this case something that's not specified. Whereas definite means something specific, precise, not vague or doubtful. For example: I am going to read A book. A is an indefinite article because I have not specified what book I'm going to read. Whereas in: He is The man I saw yesterday, for eg, The is a definite article as it is used to specify the particular man you saw, not any man but a specific man. Hope this helps.
In this case, a neuter word is something with no specific gender. In English, 'it' is a neuter word to describe something (usually used to describe an object or other inanimate things). Mädchen ends with 'chen', which makes this word neutral (even though it means girl, a feminine word). 'Das' is used for neutral objects like we do with 'it', and since Mädchen is neutral, 'Das' comes into play. :]
u just have to hold the letter u need really long and all the umlauts u need r there. but some dont have umlauts like q.
Would I use Der Junge or Das Junge? If Der Junge, then I'm confused about Das Mädchen, because it's neuter.
It's der Junge. As for why "das Mädchen" is neuter, see the explanation further up in this discussion.
So Der Junge isn't neuter, but Das Mädchen is neuter, sheesh. And I thought English was bad.
You haven't read the explanation, have you? It's an etymological thing, nothing to do with biological gender.
Is there some way to tell what gender it is based on the word, or is it just mass memorazation
Mostly memorisation, but there are some rules and hints: http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa042098.htm
The website actually helped! Too bad there's no games. Does anyone know any good German games?
What does the website http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa042098.htm do? If it helps a lot with German, I am willing to try it out!
"Die" is feminine so it is used for feminine people and professions (e.g. "die Mutter" (the mother), "die Schwester" (the sister)), it is also used when words are feminine, here is a guideline to help determine when words are feminine, masculine or neuter: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/26832211
"Das" is neutral so it is used for neuter words (e.g. "das Wein" (the wine)). The following endings indicate that a noun is neuter: "-chen", "-lein", "-um", "-ment", "-nis" (It is mentioned in the post I gave a link to above.).
Wein is masculine, so it is der Wein.
das is used e.g. for das Mädchen (the girl) or das Pferd (the horse) or das Messer (the knife).
-tum and -nis are often neuter but not always, e.g. der Reichtum, die Erlaubnis.
i said the girl through the mic but it says its incorrect could i have some help?
thanks so much
thanks again bye now
one more time thanks loads auf viertzehn
why does the spelling of The change when you say The woman The woman= Die Frau The Girl= Das Madchen
German nouns can have one of three genders: masculine, feminine, or neuter. Which gender to use is mostly arbitrary -- for example, forks are feminine, knives are neuter, and spoons are masculine. It's just something to learn along with the word.
The word Frau is grammatically feminine, so you use the feminine article die with it.
The word Mädchen is grammatically neuter, so you use the neuter article das with it.
Madchen is not correct -- if you cannot write Mädchen on your keyboard, then write Maedchen, rather than simply leaving the dots off.
I wonder why "the girl" is "das Mädchen" not "die Mädchen"? Like in "the boy" - "der Junge", "der Mann"
The short answer: because grammatical gender is not generally connected to natural gender.
Mädchen is grammatically neuter even though girls are female. (And Person is grammatically feminine even though persons can be female or male, and Löffel is grammatically masculine even though spoons are neither male nor female.)
I don't quite understand your question -- what pronoun are you referring to?
The word Mädchen is grammatically neuter, so in the singular, it takes the neuter definite article das -- das Mädchen = the girl.
In the plural, it takes the plural definite article die, so die Mädchen = the girls.
(There is no gender distinction in the plural, so all nouns have the same articles in the plural.)
It's der Junge because the word Junge is grammatically masculine.
It's das Mädchen because the word Mädchen is grammatically neuter.
die Mädchen would be the plural ("the girls").
The gender of nouns in German is mostly arbitrary. die Gabel is not feminine because forks are particularly female; it's just how it is. Similarly with das Mädchen (girl) or die Person (person - grammatically always feminine, whether the person is female or male), etc.
It is obvious that you have to learn a gender of every noun by heart. I've got a tip for you.
die Frau = okey das Madchen = not really so you can imagine that you connect "die" with "Frau" because it is a WOMAN, but you connect "das" with "Madchen" because it is still a CHILD. Hopefully you know what I mean and it helped you a little bit.
"Maiden" is not the usual word for a female child (a girl) in today's English.
If it is used at all (it's mostly a poetical word, in my experience), it often means an unmarried young woman -- no longer a child.
Yes. This is a beginner's course. Stick to basic, normal language, and avoid poetry or unusual language.
Treat it as an ability to learn German, not as a platform to show off how extensive your English vocabulary is.
Say "I do not have any horses", not "Chargers have I none".
Say "I sat between my friends before I ate" and not "I sat betwixt my comrades ere I supped."
And say "Mary is a pretty girl" and not "Mary is a maiden fair".
I understand. Next time duo tries to make me use words like village or hamlet I might be perplexed though. But you've been more than patient with me. Sure sweet of you to humor me like this!
Is "village" an unusual word for you?
(Honest question; to me it's a moderately common word, as opposed to "hamlet".)
I'd go along with that. Hamlet is more unusual than village. Village isn't particularly unusual a word. They make great strip malls! ("Hampton Village") But small towns in America aren't called villages. They're called small towns. Just ask John Cougar Mellencamp. Just don't call 'im John Cougar Mellencamp.
No difference in meaning.
German words are simply arbitrarily divided into three groups called genders, and you simply have to learn which gender a noun is.
der Löffel “the spoon” is masculine, for example, while die Gabel “the fork” is feminine and das Messer “the knife” is neuter. There’s no reason behind it; it’s just something to memorise.
When is it necessary to capitalize nouns? Do Brot and Wasser always need to be capitalized?
All nouns are capitalised in German.
Since this is mentioned in the lesson notes for the very first unit, perhaps you haven't been reading those, or maybe didn't even know they exist?
Please read the lesson notes before starting a new unit -- go to the website https://www.duolingo.com/ , click on the unit and then on the lightbulb:
Doesn't "Mädchen" mean 'girl'? Why should we use "Das", when it used for neutral gender? Shouldn't we use "Die", so it would be like "Die Mädchen"?
Doesn't "Mädchen" mean 'girl'?
Why should we use "Das", when it used for neutral gender?
Because the word Mädchen has neuter gender.
The grammatical gender of a word is not, in general, related to the meaning of the word.
I pronounced incorrectly however this app still accepted my recording, it's weird!
Im confused with the the's. Das is making me confuesd. I feel like i should have the right the's for the right subject . Also i have another question, is it das eis? For ice in the the's. Okay not the problem here but i did copy down what the the's are like der is a masculine its like muscular or strength. Sometimes i have a hard time for putting what the in what im saying, and then i wrote down die on what its nown as feminine like a gender or a girl and then i wrote down das and its neutral sounds like natural but it means to be indifferent well thing is i dont know about the das in the the's. Anyone wants to teach me witch the is suppose to go?
Not towards the actual translation, but every time i go to answer the "say it into the mic," it instantly renders it complete and wrong. I tried disabling the mic and turning it back on, but i continues to render it wrong. Is there a solution or is it not picking up my mic?
There can be various reasons for discussions being locked.
A common one is a large number of off-topic comments (jokes, rude words etc.) or many repetitions of the same questions over and over. In that case, all except one or two copies of the questions may be deleted and the discussion locked as there may be little more to say.
how come "the girl" is "DAS Madchen" but "the woman" is "DIE Frau" even though they are both feminine. Why?
This has been answered several times in this thread already ...
"Mädchen" is a diminutive, and all diminutives (which end in -chen or -lein) are neuter.