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First some background you must understand. In German there are four cases: nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. Basically, nominative is when something is the subject, the giver of the verb. Accusative is taken when something is the direct object, the receiver of the verb. Dative is the indirect object, usually the beneficiary or receiver of the direct object. Genitive is relation or possession. Das Kind gibt dem Sohn des Mannes den Apfel. Das Kind is nominative. dem Sohn is dative. des Mannes is genitive. den Apfel is accusative. By the way, that translates to: The child gives the son of the man (=the man's son) the apple.
Most verbs take accusative as an object but a couple take nominative, some dative and rarely genitive instead. Nominative: das ist sein Name (that's his name), accusative: ich kenne ihren Namen (I know her name), dative: dieses Wort gleicht deinem Namen (this word resembles your name), genitive: sie gedenkt seines Namens (she commemorates his name). Also, some prepositions always take accusative, some take dative, some take both (but not either), some take genitive. Look that up. Accusative: für einen Tag, dative: von einem Tag, either: an einen/einem Tag, genitive: innerhalb eines Tages.
Also, each noun in German takes a gender and it tends to be pretty random but there are several gender hints you can look up which say that certain noun endings tend to have or guarantee a certain gender. In general though, you just have to memorize the noun with its definite article to know its gender: der Apfel, das Haus, die Milch. One would think a tie would be masculine and a skirt would be feminine, but it's the other way around!
Here is the table:
And also for the indefinite articles (a/an):
I hope this helps! Good luck on your German journey. Don't give up!
If, for whatever reason, you are unable to use umluats in the spelling, is it acceptable to spell it Aepfel? I know Duo corrects you, but I have gotten away with that sort of spelling with "ue" using online dicionaries such as Leo, and I seem to recall that as being accepted when I took German classes. Any idea?
Yes, there are several ways
1) alt+different numbers = different letters with umlauts (http://www.toytowngermany.com/lofi/index.php/t49531.html)
2) install a keyboard layout that can type letters with umlauts (Apple extended, Canadian multilingual standard, German, US international, UK extended, etc.)
3) instead of using umlauts, write ae for ä, oe for ö, ue for ü; this is an accepted way to write the letters throughout the German-speaking world
Well, first of all, ä is pronounced like the e in elk.
In this case, the der becoming the plural die, and the a becoming ä makes it plural. A similar pluralisation occurs with der Ofen becoming die Öfen, der Mantel - die Mäntel, die Tochter - die Töchter.
Keep in mind that this is a pretty uncommon way to pluralise. It is mostly masculine nouns that get pluralised this way (even with masculine nouns, it's fairly rare), there are extremely few feminine nouns that do so (only two), and as far as I know, neuter nouns never form their plural that way.
Edit: I finally discovered a neuter noun of that category: das Kloster -> die Klöster.
The problem is you can say a lot of things in one language that pretty well mean the same thing in another language. But on a language course you can pretty well expect to see insistence on translating the words that are given to you. Sometimes changes have to be made in a given construction because of differences in the language.
However, in this case die/the works perfectly in German and English. Duo asked you to translate two words. You chose not translate one of them. Duo has no way of knowing if that is because you don't know the word or don't understand how it is used. The computer has no way of knowing that you know the word, understand how it is used in both languages but just didn't feel like including it.
Well, first of all Zeug has nothing to do with Zug, they're entirely seperate words. As for pluralization, there are many ways to pluralize and it's helpful to remember each word with its plural form (like you should be doing with its article) until you become familiar enough with the art of German pluralization that you can almost always guess the correct plural form.
I just (purposely) spelled "apples" as "aplles" and it got counted as ok. SEE MY POINT? WHY....just WHY is this counted as correct/I get a pass on this spelling error, but when I spell it as "apple" and not "apples" its counted as wrong?!? This is inconsistent and wrong.
If a small typo results in something that is not an English word, it's considered a typo.
If a small typo results in something that is an English word, it's considered a mistake (because the system can't tell whether you deliberately used the wrong word -- perhaps because you misremembered what the German word means -- or whether you made a typo).
"apple" is an English word. "aplles" is not an English word.
It's consistent if you know what the rules are.
In German, "the apple" is der Apfel and "the apples" is die Äpfel -- so since the A has an umlaut here (Ä) and the article is die for plural rather than der for masculine, you know that it is several apples.
English has a few nouns where the plural is formed by changing the vowel (e.g. "one man, two men; one foot, two feet; one mouse, two mice"); German still has that to a much wider extent.
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English doesn't use Umlauts (the dots) to change the sound of a vowel, instead English usually just changes the vowel to suit the pronunciation: Man-Men, Woman-Women, or adds an "e" to the end of the word, but that usually changes the the meaning of the word as well as the pronunciation: Pin-Pine, Tin-Tine...
There aren't many nouns that really change their vowel sounds to indicate plurality (Foot-Feet, Mouse-Mice). English usually just ass "s" or "es" to make a noun plural. We do quite often Change the sound of Articles: This-These-Those, which is a nightmare for new English speakers...
I want to let you know one thing. You have to learn every single German noun's plural form. It may take -er, -e, -en -s, or nothing. Each of those might or might not take umlauts. Natural languages are beautiful, in my opinion, I'd never want THE language as Esperanto or such because it loses all the irregularities that make languages so interesting. I love just diving into all the connections in natural languages. German Stadt relates to English stead, German Zaun relates to English town, German Dorf relates to an older English word thorp. The connections you can make are endless and beautiful.
There was this Mensa guy who really did know over 150 languages fluently. He was trying to record all of the languages that were extinct or nearing extinction before he died. I don't think he succeeded though, as he started this project later in life. I forget the details, but I happened upon this on a documentary many years back. (I thought it was over 10 years ago).
Math: It is possible to keep up on 50 languages. You don't need to study them every day. You learn a small number of languages at a time and once you've learned them, just review them twice a week while you add 1 or 2 more languages to the mix. (Or more, if you're mensa.) However, it would be useful to be a reader and learn to read books quickly. You can then pick a subject and read about that subject in many different languages. Just reading a newspaper here, a journal or magazine there, and few books per week and you can keep up on several languages in week 1. Then in the 2nd week, you can write blog posts in various language - or write each paragraph in a different language. Let's say you wrote a 5 page paper with 5 paragraphs per page. That is 25 languages reviewed right there. If you think about the object you want in a different language every time, you've just reviewed those words too. Its doable, not as practical, but still where there is a will, there is a way.
However, I would agree that unless you write and think in the language, its harder to really get fluent in that language, but you can become fluent enough to read and write most things you want to read and write.
I like natural languages, but they can be annoying sometimes. I like looking at similarities. Alot. The whole alot is not a word thing, "alot" is just another step in the history of the English natural language. And if Esperanto became the "world language" (It will not, I can say that with certainty) It would eventually become just as messy. I have this list of something like 50 languages to learn in my life. None of which are conlangs like Esperanto. Also, what does "thorp" mean.
It's an archaic word for village. And you're right, if it did become international, it probably would form irregularities from speakers making mistakes. Also, what do you mean by learn 50 languages? I consider having learnt a language as around B2 as that's general conversational fluency. Conversational fluency in 50 languages would indeed take a savant. It's not learning them that's the problem, you could learn 50 in a lifetime, it's retaining them. Languages need to be practiced often, and to practice it often enough, you can't have a full-time job that doesn't involve contacting many of your languages. To practice each one for 30 minutes a day (which is pretty standard), that means you need 25 hours a day, no sleeping, no eating. You could instead to 15 minutes a day which isn't as good but it's pretty much the minimum. That way, you need 12.5 hours to work on your language each day. That fits in sleeping and eating, but you have very little time left to work, so your job would need to involve contacting several of these languages (maybe a translator job). Also, that'll be your life and you'll get exhausted from it, even though it includes lots of sociality. That's not to discourage you but it really is impossible, essentially. I hope you mean you want to play with and dip into the pools of 50 languages, that's definitely possible (as long as you're willing to forget a lot).
"Alot" is not word you ninny-hammer! http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/04/alot-is-better-than-you-at-everything.html?m=1
I will never learn ALL of those languages, probably not even half, maybe a third. There are people who can "speak" 25 or so languages, there only really fluent in about, ten of them. I want to become fluent in at least one language in every family. And I mean BIG ones (not language isolates like Basque). But I break up Indo-European into Slovak, Romance, Germanic (English is in there), Indian. If you add all those up, I have my first language English, plus 3 Indo-European, then Afro-Asiatic, Niger-Congan (that's it's name right?), Sino-Tibetan, Austronesian, Turkic, Uralic, and one Creole. which is 12. I'm not counting really tiny ones where most of the languages are slowly going extinct. Or else I would have to learn about, seventy languages. I have a large bias towards Indo-European. I know I shouldn't, also Creoles isn't really a language family, just a group of mutts, linguistically metaphorically speaking And twelve languages Is very possible. Twelve languages, studying for about 20 minutes a day (not including English, my mother tongue) so I have to study for about 3 and a half of study a day. Which is very survivable. And many people who sustain ten or twelve languages, go to places that they usually get to practice for those languages.
Well, nobody of us has "made" German, so we have to take the language as it is now. :-)
English has a "just because" policy with plurals, as well, but we manage to learn (most of) them.
mouse --> mice; moose --> moose; goose --> geese; knife --> knives; man --> men; child --> children; person --> people; cactus --> cacti; ox --> oxen; appendix --> appendices; millennium --> millennia (...and the list could go on!!)
Contrary to what liminal says, there is a good rule for this. The plural in nominative is die and in accusative the plural is die and in dative the plural is den and in genitive the plural is der. Die can also be found as the feminine singular in the nominative and accusative cases. In correct German, this always applies.
"umlaut on the Ä differentiates it on paper"
That's incorrect. A is like the a in father, Ä is like e in echo. Umlauts change sounds significantly and cannot be ignored. We have umlaut shifts in English: strong - strength, long - length, foot - feet, man - men. A mistake would sound like: The longth of this table is too great, it won't fit.