German Lessons

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Los artículos determinados en el alemán.

 

Para comenzar: 

 

¿Cuándo se usa el artículo determinado? 

 

-Cuando hablamos de algo concreto: el bolso es de cuero. 

-Cuando ya hemos mencionado algo o damos a entender que es conocido: el bolso de cuero es mío. 

 

Ahora, el alemán tiene tres géneros para los artículos determinados del singular: die (femenino), der (masculino) y das (neutro).

 

El artículo die también se utiliza para el plural, independientemente del género singular.

 

Otro detalle importante, algunos nombres y sustantivos en alemán tienen género distinto a los del español  “el sol” es die Sonne y “la luna” es der Mond

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Veamos algunos ejemplos tomados de la videoteca de Yabla:

 

Artículo femenino

Wo ist die Tasche?

¿Dónde está el bolso?

Subtítulo 11, Nicos Weg A1 Folge 3: Tschüss!

 Play Caption

 

 

Artículo masculino

Der Horizont wird breiter

El horizonte se ensancha

Subtítulo 8, Helene Fischer Herzbeben

 Play Caption

 

Artículo neutral

Das kleine Mädchen freute sich.

La pequeña niña se alegró.

Subtítulo 64, Märchen - Sagenhaft Das kleine Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern

 Play Caption

 

 

Artículo plural

Das sind die Kerzen.

Estas son las velas.

Subtítulo 14, Felix und Franzi Franzis Geburtstag

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El alemán puede ser bastante complicado, así que nos centramos en lo que necesitas saber para empezar gradualmente. Al final la definición gramatical no es necesaria, pero si te interesa profundizar en la teoría pues ya tienes el nombre.  

 

Viel Spaß beim Lernen! 

Possessive Gender Benders: His and Her vs. Its

You are already familiar with adjectival possessive pronouns: instead of saying "the man's black hat" you may say "his black hat," etc. The main German singular possessive pronouns are ihr and sein, usually translated as "his" and "her."

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In German, der Mann is a grammatically masculine noun, but in any language, a man is naturally masculine too: he is the male of the species. The same rule applies to die Frau: grammatically feminine in German, but naturally female. Thus, the possessive pronoun for der Mann is sein (his) and the possessive pronoun for die Frau is ihr (her), and it follows that the grammatical genders and natural genders are matching in these cases: 

 

Michael Jackson hielt im Übermut sein Baby aus einem Hotelfenster.

Michael Jackson held his baby boisterously out of a hotel window.

Captions 24-25, Berlin - Hotel Adlon feiert 15 Jahre Neueröffnung

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Astrid North hat ihr neues Album in Eigenregie produziert.

Astrid North has self-produced her new album.

Caption 28, Astrid North - Solo-Debüt

 Play Caption

 

The possessive pronoun of any grammatically masculine German noun is also masculine, just as any feminine noun takes a feminine pronoun. However, English does not translate the gender-specific sein and ihr respectively to "his" and "her" when referring to non-animate objects and many animals, but uses the gender-neutral "its" instead: 

 

… anhand eines massiven Sterns, der sein Leben aushauchte.

… based on a massive star which exhaled its last breath.

Captions 23-24, Unser Universum - Sternengeburt - Das Leben nach dem stellaren Tod

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Die Nordsee. Sieben Länder teilen sich ihre Küsten.

The North Sea: Seven countries share its coastlines.

Caption 10, Abenteuer Nordsee - Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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As you see above, non-animate nouns follow their gender equivalents in German, but in English both are translated as "its" rather than "his" or "her." But how does German deal with pronouns of neuter nouns? 

 

Für jeden von uns bringt das neue Jahr seine ganz eigenen Herausforderungen mit sich.

For each one of us, the New Year brings its own very [unique] challenges with it.

Caption 2, Angela Merkel - Neujahrsansprache

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Im Wechsel der Gezeiten verändert das Watt ständig sein Gesicht.

With changing tides, the intertidal zone is continuously altering its appearance.

Caption 10, Abenteuer Nordsee - Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

 Play Caption

 

As you see in the examples above, German does not have a unique possessive pronoun for neuter nouns, but instead reverts to the masculine pronoun sein. This can lead to the rather odd situation of a grammatically neuter pronoun such as das Mädchen—which is naturally feminine in that "the girl" is a female of the species—taking the masculine pronoun sein

 

Schnell nahm das Mädchen ein neues Streichholz in seine zitternden Hände.

The girl quickly took a new match in her trembling hands.

Caption 37, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Das kleine Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern

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As you see, seine was translated to "her"—not "his"—in this case, because only "her" is correct in English. Although it is formally correct to use sein for das Mädchen, it is very common to see feminine pronouns such as ihr used for grammatically neuter but naturally feminine figures. In fact, in the video quoted above, every single pronoun reference to das Mädchen actually used grammatically incorrect feminine pronouns! So while it is good to be conscious of this rule, it won't sound unnatural if the occasional Mädchen winds up as ihr in your German!

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Further Learning
Look on Yabla German for the possessive pronouns sein and ihr being used in a real-world context, and take a look at this previous Yabla lesson about possessive pronouns. 

When "nicht schlecht" is not "not bad"

This week's fascinating new video Trickdiebe am Frankfurter Flughafen uses a slang expression that is potentially confusing, in that its use of nicht would seem to contradict what the expression actually means. 

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Beim Präventionstag ... staunt so mancher nicht schlecht [Umgangssprache], worauf man alles achten muss.

 

{The first impression might be, since the negation nicht is in the sentence, that some people are not amazed. But in fact, the phrase nicht schlecht staunen in this context means nicht wenig staunen: "not a little amazed" or "quite amazed."}

 

On crime prevention day ... some are quite amazed at all the things you have to watch for.

Captions 7-8, Trickdiebe am Frankfurter Flughafen - Die Bundespolizei klärt auf

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And another example on Yabla German:

 

Sie [sic, es] zog den Vorhang beiseite und staunte nicht schlecht [umgangssprachlich].

She pulled the curtain aside and was quite amazed.

Captions 42-43, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Das kleine Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern

 Play Caption

 

This is the only example that I am aware of in German where the phrase nicht schlecht is used in a possibly confusing way. Even the meaning of the slang phrase nicht schlecht, Herr Specht is pretty obvious in context: "Well done!" The phrase can also be used ironically if somebody has made a mistake or performed badly. Herr Specht probably does not refer to der Specht (woodpecker) here, it is rather just a rhyming word that adds emphasis to the phrase, kind of along the lines of the English catchphrase "no way, José!"

 

The verb staunen also has some other slang or idiomatic phrases associated with it, such as Bauklötze staunen (be very surprised) and aus dem Staunen nicht herauskommen (not cease to be amazed). 

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Further Learning
Read this interesting article about the use and Berlin origins of Bauklötze staunen, and search on Yabla German to see staunen and nicht schlecht used in other real world contexts.

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