Why is "ours" feminine dative case here? Why feminine? ("Das" makes me think it should be neuter.) Why dative? ("That is ours" doesn't even seem like it should be accusative, let alone dative, but I'm shaky on all of these tenses.)
Maybe it's genitive? That's also "unserer". (I'm using this worksheet that I found in another discussion on this topic: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AifA7Dli3AYsdFJWM1hGdUg1RHh1T1h1NXJqRTZJdmc#gid=0)
You might think that all the exercises you are given when doing Dative Pronouns should include the dative case. However, this isn't the way it works.
When you do a lesson or practise a skill, the program has a list of words for you to learn or pracise. When you do a lesson, you can see that list. When practising a skill, the program selects words from the skill's lessons.
The program generates sentences from Duo's database that include, or can be translated to include, any of the words from the its list. What it is not worried about is whether those sentences fit into the context of the skill. So, a word like "unserer", taught in Dative Pronouns but not always used datively, can bring sentences that lack the dative into dative lessons.
Brilliant explanation. So I imagine "unserer" is here because of a sentence like "Er kommt mit unserer Schwester" or "Unserer Mutter geht's gut", which are indeed dative. Duo is not yet clever enough to tell the difference, and thus shows us a nominative use of "unserer". This would be very helpful in a test or class (or if people read all the way down into these comments), but a beginner can certainly be excused for being confused here!
Exactly. Unfortunately, Duolingo does not make this clear.
The problem we have is that unser- needs to have an ending, but without context we don't know which ending to choose. Duolingo just chose the -er ending as an example. If it had chosen -e or -es we would translate it the same into English. Because das without a noun can refer to anything, the inflection of unser- doesn't necessarily need to be neuter. All these are valid sentences that translate the same in English:
Das ist nicht unserer
Das ist nicht unsere
Das ist nicht unseres
Although this exercise is translating from German to English, it's trickier if we want to go the other way. You might think that unser with 'no ending' is fine, but it isn't. Because unser- is standing alone with no noun, it needs an ending. That's what the table posted by Christian shows. 'Non-attributively' means there's no noun with it. 'Without article' means there's no der/ein/etc. immediately before it. So, we need to choose from the middle table in yellow. Because this is a simple sentence of the form where the only verb is ist, it has to be in nominative case, so then we're left to choose from the variations in the red box - but we don't know which gender the thing is that we're talking about... This is pretty much just a Duolingo problem though, since in real life you'd know what you were talking about and could choose the appropriate gender.
It actually makes sense that unser- should have an ending. There is an implied noun but it isn't in the sentence. Having an ending here is similar to attributive adjectives with articles that do not show gender e.g. unser altes Buch or unser kleiner Junge. Something must show gender if you fall outside the inherent article + noun combinations that are defined i.e. in the two examples that I gave, you can go without the adjectives and nothing is altered. Changing the article to one that shows gender changes the declension and so does omitting the noun (and thus the adjective) altogether which creates a no gender situation so that the -es and -er become required because unser- and its equivalents including ein, euer-, mein-, dein-, ihr- etc... don't show gender.
Effectively, this means that the middle/second table is exactly the same as the first one except for the entries where unser shows up in the first one (three entries). In these cases, you have unseres or unserer instead.
What I am having trouble with is the third table. I can't imagine having situations with two articles back to back without a noun following (non attributive as it says). I think you can have them in cases where word order gets changed in sub-clauses but there will always be a noun e.g. I found "Herzlichen Dank an alle, welche unser Projekt unterstützen". Can it be non attributive in some other way?
Maybe if this is a sentence that is preceded by another which is using the feminine dative, and this sentence refers to the one before? maybe in that case it is definitely feminine dative? and if not why? all your comments feel harsh, they make us feel like idiots for not knowing. If you think that what you are doing is "teaching" I encourage you to stop
Entschuldigung. I'm trying to be concise, and say what I think is correct where it might help. I am not a fluent German speaker. Prephaps I over simplify because I myself am not too sure.
I had no idea what nominative/accusative etc. were until about a month ago, when I realised I was just guessing a lot of the answers and didn't know what was going on in the sentences. I suspected cases might be responsible for my bafflement, because they often came up in the comment threads I looked in for explanations.
I researched on Wikipedia and posted a discussion on the German forum. Other users where very helpful. I think that if you have a complete sentence, you don't have to worry about other context to work out cases. I hope so, anyway. I think that "Das" and "nicht unserer" are nominative because that's the subject/predicate of the sentence.
Prephaps someone with more experience could help us out?
Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache.
It is a common mistake it seems. I also made the same earlier. I remembered it like this: Whenever something is equated with something else, it is always Nominative.
E.g. X ist Y. Wheather in a statement or the question, it is always nominative.
When something has something else, it is akkusativ.
E.g. X hat Y.
Whenever there is an expression Es gibt is used, that is always akkusativ.
Hope this helps.
"unsere" = /'ʊnz(ə)ʁə/
"unserer" = /'ʊnz(ə)ʁɐ/
Ok, looking over the links in this thread, as well as my own notes, this is what I have come up with:
"Unserer" is nominative because it is the subject of the verb ("ist") in the sentence. "Unserer" is not attributive, without article (meaning that it's not before a noun and there's neither a "der/die/das" or an "ein/eine" behind it), so we now know where to look (if we look at the diagrams provided by christian and smithmks)
And since we don't know what "das" is referring to there are several choices for the ending - like "unsere" (f) or "unseres" (n). In this case Duolingo chose the masculine ending "unserer".
I am not sure about whether the plural form could also have been chosen, because if it was referring to multiple somethings, then it probably wouldn't be "das" that would be used, but something else, right?
Can someone please confirm this?
That's not terribly helpful. Here is a good opportunity to explain fully, so would you?
For example, it's a common question from many new learners to ask why das is used instead of die or der in situations like this. And the answer is that das is a bit special, standing in generically when the noun is not specified. Now, that begs the (valid) question as to whether unserer is also 'special' in some way to be used in this sentence when it would otherwise seem to be an arbitrary choice - i.e. if the noun is not specified, do we always use unserer? Or can we just pick one? Or is it only valid in the context of replying to a specific question? And so on.
So far, this thread has failed wholesale to actually explain the sentence clearly to learners without technical grammar knowledge.
I'm fairly sure there isn't a default gender here.
I'm not sure what you're complaining about here. Is it that you were asked to translate "It is ours" to German? In that case, unserer, unsere and unseres should all be accepted.
Is it that you can't hear the difference between unserer and unsere on a listening exercise? That can be hard but can be done, there is guidance on other comments in this thread.
As for why the masculine is used, it's the same reason that the 1st person (plural) is used rather than the 2nd (yours) or 3rd person (his/hers). They made something up, as is the case with all of the sentences, so we's have something to work with.
The sentence for translation is DE>EN, Das ist nicht unserer, and so we learn the translation as "That is not ours". However, this seems to be the first time that a possessive pronoun is used non-attributively in Duolingo without any previous mention of a gendered noun, and so the question that comes into the head of a perceptive learner is "Does it have to be unser-er?" and so we ask it - and get more sass from commenters than helpful explanations.
A question for German native-speakers:
Much of the discussion here has been about how to know the gender for inflecting unser- if the noun hasn't been mentioned yet. The common response is "Oh, but context will make it clear" - but will it always?
An example where it is clear could be two people talking: "Ist das hier euer Stift?" "Nein, das ist nicht unserer". Here, the first person clearly asks about a pen (which is grammatically masculine), and so the second person can respond with the appropriate inflection.
An example where it isn't clear could be where the object is not unambiguously identified. Imagine that someone picks up a ceramic dish that looks like it could be a deep plate or a shallow bowl: "Ist das unsere(r)?". Here, it isn't sure whether to use unsere to match (die) Schale ("bowl") or unserer to match (der) Teller ("plate"). What would you do in this situation? It's quite common as a new German-speaker, when you want to ask about something that you don't know the gender for.
@FatAlan, actually no. Der Hund is nominative. gehören is a special "dative" verb that takes the object in the dative (for some reason). So in "Wem gehört der Hund?" wem is the object and Hund is the subject. You can see the same in "Der Hund gehört mir." There are a bunch of other dative verbs, like gefallen ("Der Hund gefällt mir."), helfen ("Der Blindenhund hift mir."), antworten, others.
I found this to be useful
Tricky... “ist” is like an equal sign between the two words... Doesn’t make sense to say or write, “Das ist nicht unserem” because “unserem” is in the masc./neut. dative case. And possessives are ALWAYS ein words. And remember the XEXE pattern for nominative case ein words? Here it is: Unser Apfel “Der Apfel gehört uns, also er unserer ist.” Translation: The apple belongs to us, so it is ours. See what I mean?
Similar problem to this translation exercise: When mein is used on its own (not followed by a noun, not preceded by an article), it needs an ending. So you'd need to choose between Das ist nicht meiner/meine/meines depending on the gender of what you're talking about. For example, if you were talking about a jacket, you would say Das ist nicht meine because (die) Jacke is feminine.
Otherwise, it's similar to the incorrect English sentence 'That is not my'.