Have a great School Year!!

Mittwoch, 16. Januar 2019

1. Nouns

Unlike English nouns, all German nouns are capitalized. This is very useful as you learn to read German. You can easily identify the nouns in these two sentences:
Der Mann hat einen Bruder und eine Schwester, aber keine Eltern mehr. Die Frau hat keine Schwestern und keine Brüder, aber zwei Tanten.
Of course, the first words of each sentence are also capitalized. Der and Die are articles, not nouns.

2. Noun Gender and the Nominative Case

German nouns have gender, i.e., they are masculine, feminine or neuter, but memorizing the gender of every noun is not particularly important for reading German. What is of significance is that the definite articles (the words for “the”) differ according to gender and undergo changes according to the role the word plays in a sentence. (More on this later.)
For example, in the nominative case (used when nouns are sentence subjects), the articles are:
Masculine:der Tisch (the table)
Feminine:die Feder (the feather, quill pen)
Neuter:das Bett (the bed)
It is recommended that, as you learn the nouns you choose to memorize, you learn each noun with its definite article, because there are only a few cases when you can determine what the gender is by simply looking at the noun. Some of these exceptions are:
a)   Nouns that end in chen or lein are neuter. These suffixes denote diminutives, e.g. das Städtchen (little town).
b)   Humans and animals that are obviously male or female usually have the equivalent gender. For example,
der Mann (the mandie Frau (the woman)
der Bulle (the bull)die Kuh (the cow)
der Vater (the father)die Mutter (the mother)
c)   All nouns that end in ei, –heit, –ie, –in, –keit, –schaft, –tät, –ung are feminine. For example:
die Bäckerei (bakery)
die Tragödie (tragedy)
die Gesundheit (health)
die Lehrerin (woman teacher)
die Freundlichkeit (friendliness)
die Landschaft (landscape)
die Zeitung (the newspaper)
die Universität (university)

3. Noun Plurals

The most important thing to learn about German noun plurals is that, unlike in English, how a noun is spelled is neither an easy nor a reliable way to tell whether it is singular or plural. Instead, you will need to rely on other reading cues introduced over the first four units of this textbook.
In English, noun plurals are generally formed by adding –s or –es, but there are some exceptions such as mengeeseoxenchildrenfish, and deer where respectively we have: changed a stem vowel; added –en; added -ren; or – as in the last two examples – where we have made no change at all. Whereas in German, very few nouns form their plurals with an –s. Those that do are usually borrowed foreign words such as HotelAutoRestaurant; these have plural forms ending with –szwei Hotels.

4. The Verbs Haben and Sein

The verbs sein (to be) and haben (to have) are two of the most common verbs in German and therefore you must memorize their forms. Sein and haben are the infinitive forms of the verbs. "Infinitive forms" are important to know since dictionaries list verbs in that form.

Present Tense Forms

The verb sein is highly irregular in its forms, just as is its English counterpart “to be.” In the present tense it is conjugated as follows:


ich bin (I am)
du bist (you are)
er ist (he is)
sie ist (she is)
es ist (it is)


wir sind (we are)
ihr seid (you are)
sie sind (they are)
Sie sind (you are)

5. Understanding Present Tense

Translating the German present tense is not always straightforward, because in English we express present tense in a variety of subtly different ways. Let’s take the sentence, “Das Kind hat eine Krankheit,” as our example. In English this may be translated in three different ways, depending on the larger context of the statement: “The child has an illness,” “The child does have an illness,” “The child is having an illness,” or even “The child has been having an illness.” As you progress to translating sentences with more context provided, be sure to keep in mind that English present tense is more complicated than German, and thus you should consider which of the English options is the most suitable for each particular sentence.
Furthermore, in a German present-tense sentence, time information might be provided that calls for a different English verb tense in your translation. For example:
Das Kind hat ab morgen Fieber.
The child will have a fever starting tomorrow.
Das Kind hat seit gestern Fieber.
The child has had a fever since yesterday.
[or:] The child has been having a fever since yesterday.
The additional time information “ab morgen” (starting tomorrow) or “seit gestern” (since yesterday) is the key to deciding whether a form of English present tense, English future tense, or English present-perfect tense is the appropriate translation of the German present-tense verb.
German present tense never conveys a past, completed event. Therefore English past tense is never a translation option for German present tense. Note that in the second example above, which calls for English present-perfect tense, the child still has a fever in the present moment.

6. The Accusative Case of Nouns

The concept of cases such as nominative and accusative, etc. is actually familiar to English speakers, although many are often not conscious of it. Note, for example, how our nominative pronouns “he” and “she” change to “him” and “her” when they are used in the accusative case. If you would like more explanation of the concept of cases (or other grammatical concepts), it often helps students to review English grammar using any English grammar reference book.
In German, just as in English, the accusative case is used primarily for the direct objects of sentences. For example, in “They hit the ball,” the direct object is “the ball.” The German definite article changes in accusative case only for those direct objects which are masculine, as the following chart indicates:
Our sentence in German then is: Sie schlagen den Ball (They hit the ball). In vocabulary lists you will often see that Ball is listed as der Ball, which is its nominative-case singular form.

7. The Indefinite Article ein

The German word for “a,” “an,” or “one” is ein, and like the definite article, the various endings it takes can help you identify case, gender, and number of the following noun phrase. Thus, taking the examples TischFeder and Bett, we have in the nominative and accusative cases:
       NOMINATIVEein Tischeine Federein Bettkeine Tische
       ACCUSATIVEeinen Tischeine Federein Bettkeine Federn
There is no plural of ein, obviously, but to use kein- (“no”, “not a”) shows us that the -e ending on indefinite articles can indicate either a plural or feminine status. For example: keine Betten (no beds).