It is a contraction of in+das. But no, it doesn't work for any combination of prep+article. In the Dative Prepositions section, duolingo has a list of all of the dative prep contractions: https://www.duolingo.com/skill/de/Dative-Prepositions
Because gehen in das Wasser means, "moving into the water", which thus takes the Akkusativ, not Dativ. If you were to use im Wasser (as a contraction of in dem Wasser) you would mean the person/thing is already in the water, and is now taking some action.
I think dative would be
Wir gehen zu dem (zum) Wasser.
We are going (in?)to the water.
However in the case of
Wir gehen in das Wasser
"We are/Wir" is both the Nominative and the Accusative direct object with "the water/das Wasser" being the indirect object receiving us. In other words "we are moving ourselves to the water".
So when it comes to
Wir gehen in das Wasser,
the rule of "active accusative" takes precedence and overrules "dormant dative" ...
I hope my line of reasoning is correct
As I understand it, "in" means "into" in English, so it should be "into the water", but this is a little complicated by the Australian idiom at least where we would say "I am going in the water" with the same meaning as "I am going into the water", as compared to it meaning "I am moving about within the water". Is this just an Australian idiom, or is it wider spread in the English speaking world?
@paul.gardn: Agreed. In English ('Merican at any rate) one would say "I am going
into the water" to mean just that. One could also say "I am going
in the water" in the same way, but at the same time, if one were to say "I am going in the water" people will try to move away (or upstream) from you.
As far as "I am
moving about in the water", I'd use "moving" instead of "going". I always equate "going" with "proceeding toward".
Yeah, in the part of the US I'm from, "into" is pretty rare and sounds formal or stiff. We almost always say "in" instead, shortening it. "I'm going in the pool." "I'm going in the house." "We're getting in the car." Etc.... Then again, we're also fond of clipping several words into one with crazy contractions too ("Wha'da'ya" - what are you, "shouldn't'a" - should not have, they'd've" - they should/would have, "you'd've" - you should/would have). Oh! Dialects are fun! :D
In german, "in" belongs to a group named "Wechselpräpositionen". For the prepositions of this group, the general rule of thumb for the case to be used after the preposition is: - DATIVE, when expressing a static condition (Er ist im Ausland) - AKKUSATIV, when expressing movement to a place (Er fährt ins Ausland) For other prepositions this rule is not valid. For example "zu" is always followed by the dative case.
As a 45y.o. native American English speaker: "going in the water" and "going into the water" are 100% equivalent. If "gehen in das Wasser" means one, it means the other.
If there's some additional subtlety (e.g., "into the water to swim" vs. "in the puddle"), it needs to be incorporated into the translation.
"In" is a two way preposition, which means it can be dative or accusative depending if motion is implied or not. As a rule of thumb, you have to ask yourself if the "question" is "Wo?" (where?- no motion) or "Wohin" (where to?- motion).
The subject is in that place (no motion): dative. Ex: "Wir schwimmen im Wasser". Here you'd ask "Wo?"
The subject is moving to towards that place (motion): accusative. Ex: "Wir gehen in das Wasser" Here you'd ask "Wohin?".
Other two way prepositions are: an, auf, hinter, neben, über, unter, vor and zwischen
You can see a better explanation here:
Please have a look at http://lw.lsa.umich.edu/german/hmr/Grammatik/Praepositionen/Prepositions.html#twowaynotes. To quote from the site:
nouns following the
`two-way prepositions(in, auf, unter, über, vor, hinter, neben, zwischen, an, entlang...) are
accusative: MOTION--if the verb is describing a change of location: where someone or something is going or being put. OR
Dative: LOCATION--if the verb is describing where something is located or where an action is taking place
In the present quiz it says We are going into the water. which involves
motion with change of location and so is
accusative. In German it becomes: Wir gehen in das Wasser
I am not very good in German but what I remember from German classes is that after directional verbs like gehen we use the Accusative case (this time "in das" which can be joined to "ins") and you use the Dative when it would be inside the water.
You know it's like Inessive case in Hungarian (-ban/-ban) which means inside something and Illative Case (-ba/-be) meaning to inside something...
EDIT: it seems TheLagom was faster :D
You say that "in das" can be contracted to "ins." Usually, only the letter "i" is contracted to the last letter of the word being used for "the," eg: der, dem, den. For example, "in the bed" is "in dem Bett," but can be contracted to "im Bett." So is it incorrect to say "is Wasser?"
Yes, it is incorrect. I've never heard "is Wasser". It's "INS Wasser" if you speak about direction.
EDIT: I don't think it is true that the first letter of the preposition can be contracted to the last letter of the article... "im" and "ins" are exceptions, they do not follow any particular rule AFAIK
Well, nlandbg, perhaps I'm mistaken, but your comment would suggest some hostility. I'm not interested in a fruitless argument, and I don't mean any disrespect, but at least about the meaning of the verb in English I'm pretty sure you're wrong. I was merely trying to understand something.. And your comment does not help me very much.. So I think it's best we don't continue this line of conversation. Thanks.