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"Ist ihnen schlecht?"

Translation:Are they sick?

December 23, 2012

147 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bikebreaker

I think this is an idiom, a shortened form of "Ist es ihnen schlecht?" = "Is it bad for them?" Don't quote me on this.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Germandy

You are right, it comes from "Ist es ihnen schlecht?" - but it does not mean 'Is it bad for them?' (which would be "Ist es schlecht für sie?") It's simply the longer version of the question, meaning 'Are they sick?'... hard to explain, I'm afraid it's just an idiomatic expression that you have to remember..


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bikebreaker

Yes, totally right. I should have said something like, "Is it going badly for them?" so as not to suggest they ate something poisonous or whatever.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr.HelloBye

Right. It goes along the same lines as "Es ist mir heiß". In German, it is rather common for this construct to be used to express opinion, or ones perception, or to inquire about these things.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SaulGoodma18

Does it mean It is my hot


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr.HelloBye

More literally it means "It is to/for me hot." It's also kinda like, "es geht Ihnen schlecht," which means "It goes to/for you badly" literally, or "It's not going well for you," except this "idiom" uses sein instead of gehen which changes the meaning to be more like "It is not well with you." At first that sounds weird, but remember that people say "That sucks" or "it is raining" in English. German just uses this indirect way of saying stuff as the standard instead of the exception. So it best translates as "You are not well."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AliDadban

It says I'm hot or I feel hot.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IanCaliban

Thanks.

The implied subject tricked me into answering Sind ihnen schlecht?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danny605480

Is there a list on Duolingo of common idiomatic expressions ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/royalt213

I was wondering why it isn't "Sind ihnen schlect?" That makes it make sense.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

The literal sentence is "Is it bad to them?"

The subject of the sentence is "it", but that word isn't spoken/written. So any time you come across one of these seemingly backwards sentences like "Mir ist schlecht" or "Mir ist kalt" or "Mir gefallt es", you want to be especially careful to identify the subject of the sentence. Usually it's going to be an er/sie/es pronoun.

So the sentence is "Ist es ihnen schlecht?", which is shortened to "Ist ihnen schlecht?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/prmichaelsen

They should add this response to the tip for the sentence!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hypehuman

Could you alternatively say "Sind sie Krank?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mazen438228

Great!! Thank you


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Qian_Wei

Why isn't it short for "Geht es ihnen schlecht?". I'm told that you cannot say "Ist es ihnen gut", but you can say "Ist es ihnen schlecht". Is it true?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tor_Heyerdal

Because you're not actually saying that "it's going badly for me". I mean, you're literally saying that, but in practice, that's not what it actually means. It means that you feel ill. Whenever you use "schlecht" in a dative construction, you're talking about health. Another example (which is used here on Duo) would be "Meinem Kind ist schlecht." The "meinem Kind" part is in dative, so you're saying "My child is ill." As far as I know, this just doesn't work the other way around. So you couldn't say "Meinem Kind ist gut" to mean "my child is feeling well." Why it doesn't work the other way around, I don't know. But that's just as far as I know. If I'm wrong, and you can actually use it the other way around, then someone please let me know.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WAVE98

Ja. "Krank" means "sick."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

I would say "Mir ist schlecht" would be along the lines of "I don't feel well" in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OnurSchwarz

it looks like, is it up to them bad


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/silmas

Are they sick wouldn't be Sind ihnen sclecht?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Karmen2810

That's not in the spirit of the language. If you use "sind" then you would have to put a question in a completely different form...and I have to say it would not sound right, that's just not how Germans speak.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CallMeAnja

but sind goes with they, not ist?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/olimo

You can say "Sind sie schlecht?" but that would mean "Are they bad?" "Ihnen" is "to them", so it can be roughly translated as "Is it bad to them?" = "Are they sick?" In this case "it" requires "is" in English and "ist" in German.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YaTvoyVrag

Yes and no. Sind goes with Sie. Ist goes with Es. In this phrase, there is an implied "Es" which isn't spoken. The ful sentence would be "Ist es ihnen schlecht?" So, basically, if you ever see "ihnen," you already know it's not going to be the pronoun that decides the verb because it's not in its nominative form of "sie."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thenino85

Because as other comments have mentioned, there's actually a hidden "es" that is the subject of the sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/newdoc

I had the same question as silmas.(subject verb agreement). So, it's an idiom? I'm still not entirely clear.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HelcioTJ

To make it simple: It is as if there were a hidden "es" in the sentnece:

"Ist [es] ihnen schlecht?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slug-lord

Ihnen is dative. Dative means that "they" is the indirect object and so is "receiving" the bad (Schlecht). Ist (Is it) ihnen (to them) schlecht (bad)?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BenjaminClendon

they should ill/sick to the meanings of the word schlecht


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/goodros_nemesis

Sind sie krank would be a far more accurate translation.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/goodros_nemesis

Thanks for the negative vote with no explanation. Don't thumbs down just because you don't understand.

If this was translated as it is written, it would say, "Goes it unto them badly?" The English sentence says "Are they sick?" and not "Are things going badly for them?" The connotation in English has nothing to do with their current state of satisfaction or happiness. It is asking if they are physically ill.

In the years I lived in Germany, I only heard "Ist Ihnen (or ihnen, for you sticklers) schlecht?" a couple of times. When I walk into the office coughing and blowing my nose, the receptionist asks "Sind Sie krank?" eleven times out of ten. If I told someone that I was up all night attending my children, they ask, "Sind sie krank?" If I told them my child was having complications following a surgery, it would be more appropriate to ask "Ist ihr (or ihm, or ihnen) schlecht?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bikebreaker

Thanks for taking the time to post this comprehensive reply.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NikkMcKnight

to clarify, the "ist" doesn't refer to "ihnen". "ist" is some other thing that might be bad for "ihnen".

Like, if someone says "don't feed them the old bread." The other person might reply "is it bad for them?" Ist ihnen schlecht?

If someone speaks fluently, please let me know if i'm on the right track.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mjhada

Couldn't this also be, "Are they bad?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Germandy

No. "Are they bad?" is "Sind sie schlecht?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nimav

isn't it better to say "geht es ihnen schlecht? "


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gerkish

Can I say " sind sie krank"???


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yaliyev

"Are you feeling bad?" Why it is incorrect?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/olimo

Because "Ihnen" for "you" must be capitalized.

"You" in German is either:

  • du (singular informal): Ist dir schlecht?

  • ihr (plural): Ist euch schlecht?

  • Sie (singular formal, always capitalized): Ist Ihnen schlecht?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/xjorgex

but here it's not capitalized, it says "ist ihnen schlecht?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PatriciaJH

Yes, so it means "they".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sal2154

But when you click on the word "ihnen" it gives you the word "you" as one of the choices


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PatriciaJH

Report it as a bad hint. And be aware that Duo's hints are computer generated and don't always make sense in the current context.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/karenskywalker

exactly... it seems more natural if we say "are you feeling bad?" than to say "are they feeling bad?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yaliyev

Maybe correct translation is "are they feeling bad?" because ihnen is not capitalized...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XGN3FuAf

How do you say ' Is she sick"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

"Ist ihr schlecht"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dierechnungbitte

why "are you not well?" will not do?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Germandy

For the formal you, it would have to be "Ihnen" (capitalized). Look at one of the comments above, too.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/laidbackjanie

I just do not get where 'feeling' sick comes from the above. At least I won't forget that phrase


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MohamedAshraf0

why not sind ihnen schlecht?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

Phrases like these literally sound like "It is bad to them/They are sick/Es ist ihnen schlecht"
"It is cold to them/They are cold/Es ist ihnen kalt"
"It goes well for me/I'm doing well/Es geht mir gut"
"It pleases me/I like it/Es gefällt mir"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MohamedAshraf0

thank you so much it really helped


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/voroninp

Because it is "Ist ES ihnen schlecht?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/YoungSpice94

In the reverse course are there tons of comments like this in which Native speakers are arguing about English word order and phrase meanings?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MihiretuKe

Ich dachte die richtige Frage solte "Sind Sie krank?".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/krys1301

So then, how do you say in German, "Are they bad?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AliDadban

Sind sie schlecht?


[deactivated user]

    Sind sie schlecht? Does it imply the same meaning??


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AliDadban

    No. Sie would be the subject. I'd say that means Are they bad.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kingeorg

    I'm getting fed up with the "informality" taught at Duolingo. Germans are formal when addressing strangers, and therefore that is the standard that should be taught. I don't want to learn Idioms BEFORE learning the CORRECT way of talking. Casual talk is a SUB category of any given language, not its rule. Sind sie krank?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

    I mean, you also have to keep in mind that you're learning the language online, where all interactions use informal language. You have to learn informality eventually.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/homebrandcrumpet

    The use of schlecht here instead of traurig is similar to the English: "Are they poorly?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/krys1301

    Duo does not accept, "Are they bad?"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ghaith415370

    Can someone please tell me what is the role of (ihnen) here?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LiliaCdR

    Please can some one tell me why "ihnen" uses "ist" singular insted of plural


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/The-German-Hit

    Why is 'ist' used? Though I don't know any word in German which can be translated as 'are', 'ist' is used only for 'is' right? And why 'ihnen'? Why not 'sie'? Please answer, I am very confused!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AliDadban

    You can read through JackBond's comments.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/vickikn

    don't say "are they doing badly?" that was marked wrong.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Clifford896649

    Ich glaube das schlecht bedeuten "bad", und "sick" war krank? Nicht war?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Marina656224

    "Are they poorly?" should be accepted.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

    No it should not. That is invalid English grammar, and conveys a different meaning to the one Germans would understand from the German sentence.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HamidReza830900

    I think "sind ihnen schlecht?" Is correct. Is not?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/anetka.skarpetka

    Why isn't "Are they doing badly" accepted? What's incorrect about this translation?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JameezDuol

    That would be more fit for 'Geht es ihnen schlecht'...


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JoaoPedroRL90

    Duolingo is pretty annoying sometimes! I put "Are they bad" and It wasn't accept! Schlecht is in the right way of be sick or over not being good.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/perodigitron

    Why not "Sind ihnen schlech?"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AliDadban

    Please read through JackBond's comments.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jahan930371

    Would "Sind sie schlecht?" be incorrect here?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AliDadban

    Yes it's incorrect. Sie would be the subject. Sind sie schlecht? means Are they bad?.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Udit_Minocha

    Would 'Geht es ihnen schlecht' work?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JameezDuol

    Yes, I even think it is more popular. The translation would be "Does it go bad for them?" which is a perfectly fine sentence.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/marcialori

    Why isn't: sind ihnen schlecht?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JameezDuol

    "Ist ihnen schlecht" is a common German shortening of the sentence "Ist es ihnen schlecht" (Is it bad for them?) The subject of the sentence is 'it', therefore we use singular 'ist'; however, in the shortening, the 'it' disappears, therefore we are left with "Ist ihnen schlecht".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Picardo67

    If one wishes to ask if someone is sick, "krank" is a better word choice than "schlecht."


    [deactivated user]

      are they is plural, so we do not ask is they, as this is singular!!


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JameezDuol

      "Ist ihnen schlecht" is a common German shortening of the sentence "Ist es ihnen schlecht" (Is it bad for them?). The subject of the sentence is 'it', therefore we use singular 'ist', however in the shortening, the 'it' disappears, therefore we are left with "Ist ihnen schlecht" (literally "Is [it] to them bad?")

      Stop being whiny, Evelynne!


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/catherinemassol

      so, schlecht can mean sick?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PamMcCarty

      I would say, "Sind sie krank? Why not?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MartinoDeVino

      If you get this question only as audio I assume that a correct answer could also be "Are you (form.sing) sick?"


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Brackenbury

      What's wrong with "Are they poorly?"


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RoyLewis3

      I don't see why "are they bad" wasn't accepted.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/laidbackjanie

      why not "Ist ihnen Krank"


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CallMeAnja

      I don't think it's idiomatic German to say "krank" instead of "schlecht" in this case. I could be wrong though.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr.RobertoMas

      I wrote "Are they bad?" and duolingo says I'm wrong... but is normal to use "bad" for ill or sick... what do you think? Am I wrong with "Are they bad?" or it is correct?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bikebreaker

      It is a special expression. Because "ihnen" (to/for them) is used instead of "sie" it means something different. Review the threads above for a complete discussion of why you are definitely wrong.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Utnapis

      There are some cases where you are confident that you know exactly what the German phrase means, but have serious trouble coming up with an English equivalent. This was one of those cases for me.

      Eventually I could not think of anything else than "Are they are doing bad?", and that of course didn't cut it. I guess "Are they not doing well?" would be more acceptable English, maybe that is already in the list of correct answers?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/voroninp

      Why cannot it be "Do you feel bad?" where ihnen is a dativ for plural you?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

      It would need to be "Ihnen" with a capital I. Any word that can refer to either you-formal or them, the distinction is in the capitalization.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/voroninp

      Agrrrhhh, shame on me ;( Sure, for ihr - you pl. it will be euch , and for sie/Sie - they/you - ihnen/Ihnen.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sabbath.p

      I think the duolingo voice is the same as the google voice....


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/prmichaelsen

      Warum nicht "seid ihnen schlecht?"


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

      Because the verb is conjugated to match the understood noun "it" as in "Is it bad to you?". No matter what the pronoun is, we're always going to use "ist" because the "es" is always going to be understood.

      You'll find a few instances of this, so be able to recognize dative pronouns like mir, dir, ihm, ihr, ihnen, Ihnen, uns and euch. If you see one of those, you know they're not the subject of the sentence. The subject will either be another noun in the sentence, or, like in this case, it will be an understood "es".


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/prmichaelsen

      Oh, I see. So "Seid ihr schlect" asks "are you all bad" whereas "Ist ihnen schlect" asks "is (it) bad to you all".

      Thank you very much for this great explanation!


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jenni7771

      Are they bad? As in are they bad behaved or...


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

      "Are they bad" would be "Sind sie schlecht?" or something along those lines.

      This sentence introduces an odd manner of speaking you'll encounter occasionally. What's important is the use of the dative pronoun "ihnen". Because it's not the nominative "sie" you know it's not the subject of the sentence, so it's not "They are". This type of sentence uses an unspoken "es" as the subject, so this sentence could otherwise be written as "Ist es ihnen schlecht" or "Is it bad to them". The grammar is still a little bit confusing, but the closest approximation might be something like "Does everything feel bad to them" or "Do they feel bad/ill".

      This kind of structure appears in other places too, for instance "Mir gefällt das" is actually more along the lines of "that pleases/is pleasing to me" rather than "I like that".

      If you run into a sentence that seems to mismatch verb conjugations and uses a dative pronoun, it's probably one of these kinds of sentences.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KasiditEkt

      why not "sind sie schlecht" ?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

      That means "Are they bad?". You can read some of the other posts in this thread for more explanation.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KasiditEkt

      danke schön und wissen Sie why it has to be "ist" ihnen (I think ihnen is more than one person so it should use "sind")


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

      In this sentence, "es" is the subject, not "ihnen" (which can never be the subject of the sentence, along with "dir", "mir", "ihm", "uns", and "euch"). The word "es" is not spoken in this case, so the sentence written explicitly is "Ist es ihnen schlecht" which literally translates to "is it bad to them".

      It doesn't make much sense in English, but that's how Germans ask if someone is sick.

      Likewise, to ask if someone is "feeling" cold as opposed to being cold to the touch, you would say "Ist dir kalt?" as opposed to "Bist du kalt?" respectively. There are a few similar phrases like this, and as you learn the Dative case, they'll make more sense.

      Be aware that you can't always trust word order to translate one-to-one from German to English. Many languages including German use cases rather than word order to determine the function of a word.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KasiditEkt

      thank you so much


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zaminm

      Why not? Sind ihnen Schlecht. As I know for plural we should use 'sind' at all.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AliDadban

      See JackBond above. The subject of the sentence is es


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hechap

      Are these versions of the concept, and possible translations, OK, then? Mir ist schlecht. Ihm ist schlecht. Ihr ist schlecht.
      I am sick. He is not well. It is bad for her.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RebeccaEveleigh

      I translated as "Are they poorly?". Is poorly not a word that duo recognises? It means the same thing as sick to me?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

      "Poorly" is an adverb. It is not grammatically valid in that sentence.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RebeccaEveleigh

      Poorly is also a synonym for sick or unwell, at least where I'm from in England.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

      I see. It looks like that phrase is listed as informal. It's probably too colloquial and/or uncommon to be recognized in this system.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RebeccaEveleigh

      That makes sense, thanks for confirming.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Marina656224

      "Are they poorly?" is what we say where I live, too. I don't think "poorly" is informal, it's just what people say around here instead of "sick" or "ill".


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

      I've lived in many parts of the US and have never heard that sort of phrase used. Since it is improper English grammar, it can only be considered informal.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bikebreaker

      Oddly enough, English is also used correctly in places that are not part of the US! Just thought you should know.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackBond

      I'm well aware, but it's also been well established that Duolingo's English translations only respect American grammar rules and idioms by design.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Marina656224

      Sorry, I should have said that I live in England. It's a common English phrase.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robert185441

      Why not ist ihnen kranke


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CaspervanZyl

      It would have been nice if DL taught us the idiomatic expression before it is asked. By definition, idiomatic expressions cannot be guessed from the literal words...there goes my heart... :(


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bikebreaker

      Y'know, it's not all that idiomatic, really. What's weird about for an English speaker is the dative object, "ihnen", which doesn't really have an equivalent in English. "Schlecht" is here an adjective meaning "crappy". The dative object means to/for/in relation to someone. So the whole thing adds up to are "things " "crappy" to/for/in relation to "them". In other words, are they feeling crappy? The only thing that is weird about it is that the subject " things " has been omitted.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StephanieChaney

      The 'feeling' part is also left out of this sentence, that's what got me. In English you wouldn't say 'It is crappy for them' to indicate feeling bad. That would mean that some other thing (likely a situation) is crappy. In this German sentence the 'feeling' is not indicated by a word but rather by an understanding from the case of the sentence. Not so much an idiom as a new idea for English speakers.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bikebreaker

      Good comment. As someone pointed out somewhere higher up in this thread, use of the dative in this way idiomatically refers to how someone feels. That's just how it is. I think it should also be pointed out that "Sind ihnen krank?" is asking specifically whether they are sick or not. "Ist ihnen schlecht?" is about how well they feel. You can feel poorly without being actually sick, and vice versa. I expect that it would be quite normal to hear something like, "Du siehst krank aus - ist dir schlecht?" or "Ihm ist schlecht, weil er krank ist." Your mileage may vary - I am not a native speaker.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tomerisrael

      Why don't it accept "they are bad"?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SpanGerm

      Wt@%@%%@. If Bad is given as a drop box option then why is it wrong when I utilize the option


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zeke760277

      Yes:fire No:just in case...fire!!!!


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rsalden

      Think of it this way: "er ist schlecht" = he is bad, "ihnen ist (es) schlecht" = he is feeling bad. I hope this helps some of you to understand the difference!


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Germandy

      "ihnen ist (es) schlecht" means "they are feeling bad" !
      "He is feeling bad." = "Ihm ist schlecht."


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/veganpanda

      So how comes I put "they are feeling bad" and got it WRONG!!


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bikebreaker

      Because it is a question. "Are they feeling bad?" would be right.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/oran489

      if it is an idiomatic phrase they must change the methode i cant guess every time its an idiomatic santense


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Germanstudent56

      I have the same question


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/krishna.sa1

      For me nonproglem i feel happy


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bhagyesh-Battuji

      There is ihnen used and sein form used is ist,this is totally wrong and so is the translation.if they want to say'are they sick' then we write the sentence 'sind ihnen schlecht'.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DorotaJarosz

      Please read previous comments before you post.

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