Translation:We have a cat because of our parents.
"The genitive prepositions are often used with the dative in spoken German, particularly in certain regions. If you want to "blend in" and not sound too stuffy, you can use them in the dative also, but purists will want to learn the genitive forms."
While it is true that it is used in everyday language I suggest not to learn it. I find it confusing that Duolingo teaches it as being correct, it simply isn't. When you master German and have frequent conversations with people you will start adapting appropriate ways of talking for each group of people anyway, just like everyone does when learning English. So best to learn the correct way to speak first. Just my two cents on the topic.
On the one hand you are absolutely right, but on the other hand most Germans use the wrong case here. There is even a book about that and other uncertainties with the German language: http://www.amazon.de/Der-Dativ-ist-Genitiv-sein/dp/3462034480
Well, I never denied that Germans use it in the wrong way. But in official writings or mails you would avoid doing that because it makes you look as if you would not have mastered German. So usually Germans know how to correctly use it and just don't do it because they are lazy. That is clearly not a good excuse for someone learning the language.
Unfortunately a lot of Germans don't master the German language and I have the feeling it is getting worse. Many German texts on the Internet are written in horrible grammar and orthography. Even many people in the marketing seem not to master the German grammar. A lot of people can't differentiate between den/dem, seinen/seinem, ihren/ihrem, in/ihn, den/denn, etc.
Nevertheless (or because of that even more), Duolingo should teach correct German and no common mistakes.
What I worry about is the "most Germans" bit. We could say in English that most English speakers mix up pronouns when saying "Me and him went to the store." It may be true that it's said, or even that a lot of people say it that way, but it's still wrong, and sounds grating to some. I just wonder to what extent it's acceptable to sub in the dative for some of these genitive prepositions.
Regarding the extent it's acceptable to, I'd imagine there are different levels in German just like in English.
For example, I'd agree that your example is wrong but sometimes used colloquially. In this case, a significant amount of people will think it sounds weird. If the German example given here is like this, then yes, you would avoid it in proper writing and conversation, but it's fine around friends or informal settings like online.
An example that would be acceptable in more contexts would be "who" versus "whom". While there is a technical use of "whom" where replacing it with "who" is wrong, it's fallen so far out of general use and favour that, not only will very few people notice, most people don't even know how to use it themselves, and wouldn't pick it even if you told them flat out that there was a mistake in the sentence.
If the German example here is closer to your example, then yes it should be learnt and avoided, but if it's more like the who/whom example, then most people really won't care or even be able to tell, so if it's something you struggle with, it's not worth learning unless you're going into academia.
I totally agree with you. I'm actually surprised that at this stage we're taught colloquial language. It puzzles me to still struggle with basic grammar and instead of having sentences aimed at mastering those basics, I'm faced with some formally wrong sentences. The fact that most people speak this way doesn't make it correct.
I one hundred percent agree with you. The discussion should not be whether or not it is correct, but instead why are we learning this at this point of our instruction, especially when it is showing up on a test of previous knowledge. The things that are showing up on this quiz to test to the next level has been my biggest complaint so far of Duolingo.
At the same time, if the language is not properly safeguarded and subject to some basic rules, every native speaker will be creating more and more ways of expression and shortcuts to the point of losing it. Every language needs structure and while it will always naturally evolve, we can't let it lose its academic basics.
@Skydancer3, I know that very well but if there were no institutions establishing standards, there would be no way of learning one single language as it would be split into countless dialects that with time would no longer be easily understood by even neighbouring communities where the language evolved differently. We're living in a globalised society where communication is vital so as important as it is to keep local and regional varieties for the sake of culture and heritage (accents, dialects, slang etc.), we are in need of a unique code that sets the linguistic boundaries for official purposes.
@chartsman (Sorry, I can't reply to your post.): Languages have always been developing and will always be. People can try to squeeze them into rules, but they can't stop them from developing. The language was there, before anybody laid down the rules. Especially Standard German was artificially created out of dialects to create a common language.
Language is not made by purist - it's made by people who use it. If everyone around says it's "unserer" then it is correct, because the language works like that. Rules of lnaguages are defined by uses, not the other way around.
that's also why there are so many exception to rules in languages.
In German classes at school I was prepared for exams in which my grammar had to be correct. I learned the grammatical rules but ended up hardly able to hold a conversation in German. To me, this modern trend of using the dative case instead of the genitive is great news. Less to learn! It lessens the burden if you are a learner, giving you more time to practise conversational German.
My advice is learn the genitive if you have exams on the horizon, otherwise ignore it, at least for the time being. Later, especially if you are going to use German professionally, you will probably want to learn more formally "correct" German", including the difficult-to-use genitive case, but if you just intend to go holidaying in German-speaking countries, you're all set with your colloquial German. It's really a matter of priorities: knowing grammatical rules or being able to talk and make yourself understood. Which matters more?
I do realise the dative being used for the genitive grates on some people. I sympathise, as some things in English grate on me. Maybe the genitive case will be lost in German, maybe it will remain as the more correct form. I still say, though, that what really matters is to be understood.
Hopefully a native German speaker chimes in on why, but according to this link, wegen can be genitive or dative.... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_grammar#Prepositions_and_cases
according to the above wiki, " with dative colloquially AND* with pronouns.", and in this case we have a pronoun, hence dative
Look what I've found on this link: http://german.about.com/library/blcase_dat2.htm "The genitive prepositions statt (instead of), trotz (in spite of), während (during) and wegen (because of) are often used with the dative in spoken German, particularly in certain regions. If you want to "blend in" and not sound too stuffy, you can use them in the dative also."
Then you should report it! I prefer the dative, too, I find it more fluent, BUT ... a lot of Germans (who consider themselves experts, like my teacher colleagues ;-) ) HATE it when people use the dative here. They wouldn't say that the dative is colloquial or "fine" but would say it's completely wrong and / or a sign of poor education. I would even suggest that the dative MUST be marked with (colloq.) or so ...
Actually a lot of Germans use the Dativ (me too, but never in front of my students :-/ ), especially in informal situations, so I would go for both ... but if it's not possible to add markers, I would prefer the Genitive because it's definitely the "standard". Couldn't this Genitive/Dative-thing be mentioned in "Tipps & Notes"?
While "das/der Elter" is a real word, noone ever uses it. What you would rather hear is "das Elternteil", meaning something like "part of the parents", awkward in english, normal in German. But you only ever use that if it is necessary to have a gender-neutral word, e.g. when refering to father or mother as in "As long as one parent is at home the child is not forced to go to day care." Otherwise you'd always use "Mutter" or "Vater".
"We have a cat by way of our parents." This sentence's meaning implies that because of our parents, we have a cat. This is how I keep wanting to say it. The quoted sentence is pasted directly from my wrong answer. This is how I naturally want to say it. Is it a wrong translation? Am I really wrong? Please help me understand. Thank you.