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Old 27.09.2021, 11:22
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Challenges with learning German

Hi folks,

As you may know, I moved to Basel a few months back, and have taken up the canton's very generous offer of free A1 German classes.

However, whilst I'm on my German journey, I am discovering just how much I don't know about my native language, English!! This is a very unpleasant surprise for me - firstly because I thought I did okay in my English classes at school, and secondly because it's making German a lot more difficult!

How can I learn about German cases (nominative / accusative / etc.) in German if I don't even know what these things are in English? I have googled these of course but have found myself getting even more confused, which is making me feel really dumb

So, I figure a lot of you EFers must have been through these challenges too - I'm wondering if anyone can help me understand a few basics (in English) so that I can apply it to my German studies.

1. definite vs indefinite articles
Definite: the / this / that
Indefinite: a/an

^^^ is my understanding correct?

2. Nominative vs Accusative case
I can't even give an example here because I simply don't understand what these mean. Can anyone please help me out?


Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 27.09.2021, 11:39
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Re: Challenges with learning German

This was a shock to me too- but t'other way round as I taught German (mainly French my MT though) and could not understand why British students would not have a clue about subject, direct and indirect object.

With beginners, I just got kids comfortable and confident in using basic sentences- but the week before half-term in the autumn- I would spend one week teaching in English about the above- so they understood the above- with lots of examples, and then started in German again after the holiday. It made things so so much easier for them, and for me too- win win.

I used to ask my English colleagues why this was not taught- and their reply was always that it was not important in English, as it makes no difference!
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Old 27.09.2021, 11:46
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Re: Challenges with learning German

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2. Nominative vs Accusative case
I can't even give an example here because I simply don't understand what these mean. Can anyone please help me out?
This might help

https://pediaa.com/difference-betwee...nite-articles/
https://pediaa.com/difference-betwee...nd-accusative/
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Old 27.09.2021, 11:47
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Re: Challenges with learning German

The nominative is the subject- who does the action

'HE' plays tennis

'The Queen' wears a Crown

'My friends' all speak fluent German.


The accusative it the object (aka 'direct object)

I eat an apple. 'I' = subject/nominative 'an apple' = object/accusative I eat what ... an apple.

The dog bites the postman. 'The dog' subject/nominative 'the postman' = object/accusative.


You will soon come across the Dativ- the case of the 'indirect object'

John sends a letter to his mum.

'John' subject/nominative
'a letter' object/accusative (he send what - a letter)

to his mum = dativ/indirect object (he sends what - to whom?)

The clever thing with the dativ in German is that the preposition is no longer needed.


It seems complicated- but you will get it- and the great thing with German, is that once you understand and know the 'system' it never changes (unlike French for instance where there are so many exceptions to any rule).
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Old 27.09.2021, 11:47
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Re: Challenges with learning German

Yep. Its a nightmare! Ive given up trying to get it grammatically right - I take a guess at der/die/das/dem/den/des - and that will have to do!
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Old 27.09.2021, 11:51
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Re: Challenges with learning German

I highly recommend 'English Grammar For Students Of German':

https://www.amazon.de/English-Gramma...s%2C168&sr=1-1

It's quite a common problem. We do not learn our mother tongue the same way we tackle a second language - and so often we find ourselves light on the nuts and bolts of mother tongue grammar. We just know instictively what is right and what is wrong, but learning German grammar is all the more difficult if we don't have the 'theory' of English grammar at our fingertips.

This book is written to address that gap.

One of the most useful books on my shelf, I went back to it again and again as I was learning German.
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Old 27.09.2021, 11:58
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Re: Challenges with learning German

Quote:
I take a guess at der/die/das/dem/den/des - and that will have to do!


@Island Monkey- I just mumble the der/die part. People think I said the correct one
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Old 27.09.2021, 12:03
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Re: Challenges with learning German

Never heard of this book Melon- could have been very useful!

These days I do very little teaching - and mainly French and English.
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Old 27.09.2021, 12:10
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Re: Challenges with learning German

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Never heard of this book Melon- could have been very useful!
FYI it's part of a series, as the same lack of English grammar theory plagues students of many languages. 'English Grammar For Students Of...' books are available for:

French
Spanish
Italian
Russian
Japanese
Arabic
Chinese
Latin
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Old 27.09.2021, 12:11
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Re: Challenges with learning German

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I highly recommend 'English Grammar For Students Of German':

https://www.amazon.de/English-Gramma...s%2C168&sr=1-1

It's quite a common problem. We do not learn our mother tongue the same way we tackle a second language - and so often we find ourselves light on the nuts and bolts of mother tongue grammar. We just know instictively what is right and what is wrong, but learning German grammar is all the more difficult if we don't have the 'theory' of English grammar at our fingertips.

This book is written to address that gap.

One of the most useful books on my shelf, I went back to it again and again as I was learning German.
Yes, I have it too. Really, really helpful.
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Old 27.09.2021, 12:15
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Re: Challenges with learning German

Learning Italian at the mo- Grammar is a nightmare
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Old 27.09.2021, 12:27
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Re: Challenges with learning German

Another 'must' read for those frustrated by the study of German grammar, Mark Twain's classic (and hilarious) essay, 'The Awful German Language':

https://www.daad.org/files/2016/07/M...Broschuere.pdf

When you find yourself feeling downhearted just close that grammar book, pour yourself a large glass of wine, and enjoy, knowing you are in very good company.




(English text starts on page 9)
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Old 27.09.2021, 12:37
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Re: Challenges with learning German

It's common. I learned English grammar by learning German and understanding how they translate.

My daughter who's very fluent in English and writes well has problems with commas in English.
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Old 27.09.2021, 13:53
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Re: Challenges with learning German

English used to have accusative, dative and genetive:

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Old 27.09.2021, 14:06
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Re: Challenges with learning German

Still does, hanging around in the pronouns. It even has you informal - thee/thou etc.
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Old 27.09.2021, 14:06
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Re: Challenges with learning German

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2. Nominative vs Accusative case
I can't even give an example here because I simply don't understand what these mean. Can anyone please help me out?
Im not even going to pretend to be an expert. But there are 4 cases in German. These 2 plus dative and genitive. Which case you use depends on what the object is doing in the sentence. In English you dont need to know because it never changes.

Nom: Der Tisch.
Acc: Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch.
Dat: Ich lege das Buch auf den Tisch.
Gen: Die Beine des Tisches.

But seriously who has time to figure this out when talking to someone? And of course its different for each gender.
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Old 27.09.2021, 14:10
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Re: Challenges with learning German

Ooops, check again
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Old 27.09.2021, 14:15
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Re: Challenges with learning German

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Ooops, check again
Ha feel free to correct - it is way beyond me!

But mistakes aside that’s the general idea as far as I see.

But unless you know as a native what sounds right, or have a massive amount of time and talent to study, I don’t know how anyone ever gets it mistake free!
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Old 27.09.2021, 14:18
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Re: Challenges with learning German

Not easy to grasp the cases for speakers of a language that has none (that I know of). In English it's all done with word order "The man eats the dog" vs. "The dog eats the man". In German you can say: "Den Hund isst der Mann" or "Der Mann isst den hund"; both mean the same. "Den" points to the object - the one to be eaten --> accusative.

I remember it easiest, if I make a "murder case" out of it. The perpetrator is the Subject and the victim is the object of the sentence. "I love you" (Ich liebe dich); perpetrator is I, victim is you. "I give you a book" (Ich gebe dir ein buch): Perpetrator is "I" victim is "book" (you is the fifth wheel -> indirect object); "he drinks a beer" (er trinkt ein Bier); the beer is the victim as always. This little rule of thumb has helped me a lot with learning languages.

But then you can be happy not having to learn Eastern Europena languages with their seven cases where things change depending on which direction something comes from or goest to. Ouch!
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Old 27.09.2021, 14:51
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Re: Challenges with learning German

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English used to have accusative, dative and genetive:

Thank God we don't torture ourselves anymore.
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