"Die Familie besitzt keinen Wein."
Translation:The family does not have any wine.
"besitzen" is "to possess" or "to own".
So they're similar but not fully interchangeable.
Hm, theoretically I suppose so.
But I'd use Besitz ergreifen (to grab possession), I think - Der Geist hat von Hans Besitz ergriffen "The spirit possessed Hans".
And Hans ist von einem bösen Geist besessen "Hans is possessed by an evil spirit". (With Zustandspassiv - passive formed with sein rather than werden - to show the state rather than action.)
Duolingo says another meaning of it is "to own". Is it simpler to think of it meaning that?
"possess" and "own" mean pretty much the same thing, I'd say. Pick whichever of them you like to match besitzen.
I think the concept of "owning" wine (similar to "owning" money) sounds very weird in English. You might own a winery or a vineyard or a wine shop, but not necessarily wine. I'm thinking it has something to do with the transitory nature of certain things. You "have" wine or money, but then you drink the wine or spend the money. It comes and goes. I think of "own" as more a case of something you have for a long time. You "own" a house, or a car, or furniture (You also "have" them.) But you "have" food (or wine, or money.)
Actually this is okay to own a wine collection in English so a family owning wine would be perfectly acceptable. Some people own wine for centuries. And most vineries? Are owned by families so it would make sense.
I'm not sure I agree (or disagree) with this sense of own, but nonetheless some people do keep wine for a very long time.
You make a good point about our usage in English, but if besitzt sounds the most natural in this sentence/context, to the German ear. It'll just have to be another thing to internalize. I'd be curious if it the English usage of 'have' in this kind of context would sound similarly weird to a German if we used 'habe' here instead of 'besitzt'.
we are saying ".. any wine" b/c wine is not countable right? i.e., if the sentence would say "Die Familie besitzt keinen Tisch", and the translation will be the family does not have a table. Is this correct?
It is not plural but feminine.
The plural would be "die Familien".
Also, German doesn't do the "plural verb for a singular noun representing multiple people" thing that some varieties of English do - so it is "die Polizei hat..., die Mannschaft hat ..., das Land hat ..., die Regierung hat ..." etc. and not "...haben...".
Thank you for the answer! You're right, it does make sense... even in my language it's the same: "La familia tiene..." ("die Familie hat...") and "Las familias tienen..." ("die Familien haben...")
Why keinEN? That would make it dative and looking at the sentence, shouldn't it be akkusative?
"keinen" could be dative plural, but here it is masculine accusative singular - the endings (and articles) are identical. (And "Wein" cannot be dative plural, which would be "Weinen".)
Ok, I get why it's akkusative, but why masculine? Does it refer to "Wein"?
Also: so it's not just the indefinite article that changes in akk./dat./gen.? What are the endings for nouns?
Yes, it refers to the wine -- "der Wein" is masculine.
Most nouns don't change endings much for cases, except that nearly all have -(e)n in the dative plural.
Masculine weak nouns add -(e)n in all cases except the nominative singular.
Masculine and neuter nouns often add -(e)s in the genitive singular.
And of course, most nouns have a different form in the plural than in the singular - usually by changing the ending, but sometimes by changing the inside vowel (like foot-feet) or by changing the vowel and adding an ending.
But other than that, in general, the main ending changes are in adjectives and articles, rather than in nouns.
What about it? That's a plural that's formed by changing the vowel and adding an ending.
For quite a while, but it's only available from Spanish as the teaching language.
One would not say this in English.
One could say, ''The family does not possess or own any wine.'' But then the meaning is, to me, very different.
I do not know sufficient German language to be 100% sure but: Surely*, like in English; if one wanted both, ''possess'' and ''own'' in one German sentence, then each verb would have to have its own word. That is, some form of''besitzt, besitzt''., sort of thing!?!
*Don't call me Shirley!