December 02, 2008
Struggling with Dativ and Akkusativ and Der-Die-Das-Den-Dem
I attended German class this morning as usual for Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and was honest with the teacher: "It's a total guess for me as to which article to use!"
In German it's not just
"the" as in English.
The dog, the door, the bed, the tables. Easy, right?
And it's not as simple as French, with only
"le" (masculine: le chien) or
"la" (feminine: la porte) or
"les" (plural: les tables).
No, no, in German, it's
"der" (masculine in nominativ case: der Hund; or feminine in akkusativ case: der Tür), or
"die" (feminine: die Tür; or plural, die Tischen) or
"das" (neuter: das Bett), or
"den" (masculine in Akkusativ case, or plural in Dativ), or
"dem" (masculine or neuter in Dativ case)
And of course half the time what's masculine in French is feminine or neuter in German and vice versa:
e.g. the table: la table (fem in French), vs. der Tisch (masc in German)
or the bed: le lit (masc in French), vs. das Bett (neuter in German)
or the cat: le chat (masc in French), vs. die Katze (fem in German)
Help, help! I can usually figure these things out if I have time and solitude:
1. I look the word up in the dictionary (whether paper or online) to find out if it's masculine, feminine or neuter
2. I think about whether the thing is the subject (nominativ) or direct object (akkusativ) or perhaps an object of a preposition (akkusativ or dativ)
3. I think about whether the action is taking place in one spot (dativ case), or whether it involves moving from one place to another (akkusativ)
4. I look up in the tables (whether on paper or in my head) which article is thus the correct one to use
It's quite the multi-step process just to pick one little tiny inconsequential word before a noun. But on the spot, in class? I blush and sputter, or just pick randomly, and the teacher corrects me - but what use is that?
Ah well, I know I am learning a little each class, and with each piece of homework. David shared a great little trick with me today which helped oodles. "Wo?" (where) and "Dativ" are the shorter words and go together, and "Wohin?" (where to) and "Akkusativ" are the longer words and go together. Thanks, my love! Helps no end.
December 2, 2008 | Permalink
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That's funny. I remember it giving me no end of headaches trying to learn it only to discover that the youth all just say "duh." Cracked me up. I gave up and decided I would just learn it bu force of habit. My favorite is Die Gabel, Der Loeffel und Das Messer. At least they cover their bases. You should talk to Birgit and Toby as they are in the middle of him learning it using Rosetta Stone and have had this same conversation recently.
Posted by: randall | Dec 2, 2008 11:02:45 PM
Please tell me we shall be speaking English and/or French over Christmas! And that you will translate, when necessary at the local stores! A smile goes a long way and i am very good at pointing! Only 18 more days before we board that plane! Not nearly ready with what I need to do before that, but eager to see you as soon as possible! Have fun in Geneve! Mom
Posted by: Patricia | Dec 3, 2008 5:19:24 AM
Why don't you just pick the one you like best and use it all the time? When I was over there, I picked "der". Oh yeah, you probably want to sound somewhat intelligent...nevermind.
I'm so jealous of your wonderful linguistic ability and opportunity. Oops! Broke commandment #10 - thank God for forgiveness through Jesus! April in sadly sunny CA
Posted by: April | Dec 3, 2008 8:20:42 AM
You are a trooper to stick with the language-learning! But it's an investment that will keep paying.
Posted by: Paul Merrill | Dec 4, 2008 3:42:13 AM
I memorized "die, der, der, die, das, des, dem, das," but I no longer remember all of the significance. You are right, it can get complicated. At least there are rules in Deutsch.
Posted by: Martin LaBar | Dec 7, 2008 8:51:14 PM
Testing a new commenting feature. Full of bugs so far?
Posted by: Katherine | Dec 9, 2008 2:30:32 PM
Yeah, not so good. The entry box is hidden by another info box, and the preview shows nothing. But the comment does come through...
Posted by: Katherine | Dec 9, 2008 2:31:50 PM