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.
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..
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.
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.
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."
The implied subject tricked me into answering Sind ihnen schlecht?
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?"
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?
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.
I would say "Mir ist schlecht" would be along the lines of "I don't feel well" in English.
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.
Because as other comments have mentioned, there's actually a hidden "es" that is the subject of the sentence.
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?"
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.
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!
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?
But when you click on the word "ihnen" it gives you the word "you" as one of the choices
exactly... it seems more natural if we say "are you feeling bad?" than to say "are they feeling bad?"
Maybe correct translation is "are they feeling bad?" because ihnen is not capitalized...
For the formal you, it would have to be "Ihnen" (capitalized). Look at one of the comments above, too.
I just do not get where 'feeling' sick comes from the above. At least I won't forget that phrase
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"
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".
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!
"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.
That means "Are they bad?". You can read some of the other posts in this thread for more explanation.
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")
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.
In the reverse course are there tons of comments like this in which Native speakers are arguing about English word order and phrase meanings?
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.
I translated as "Are they poorly?". Is poorly not a word that duo recognises? It means the same thing as sick to me?
Poorly is also a synonym for sick or unwell, at least where I'm from in England.
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.
"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".
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.
Oddly enough, English is also used correctly in places that are not part of the US! Just thought you should know.
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.
Sorry, I should have said that I live in England. It's a common English phrase.
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?
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.
The use of schlecht here instead of traurig is similar to the English: "Are they poorly?
Please can some one tell me why "ihnen" uses "ist" singular insted of plural
Ich glaube das schlecht bedeuten "bad", und "sick" war krank? Nicht war?
No it should not. That is invalid English grammar, and conveys a different meaning to the one Germans would understand from the German sentence.
on the previous sentence "he's doing bad" was accepted for "es geht ihm schlecht" yet here "are they doing bad" doesn't work?
Why isn't "Are they doing badly" accepted? What's incorrect about this translation?