As you may know, I’ve been taking online German lessons since September. I love my classes, and my husband and I have already begun to reap some of the rewards of my increasing German vocabulary. I absolutely cannot imagine how exhausting it must be for my husband to constantly have to think and speak in a foreign language when he talks to me. Thankfully, each new word I learn brings us one word closer to my ultimate goal which is for him to speak to me only in German, and even if I can’t reply in German, I can at least understand.
Don’t worry, though. I’m not putting too much stress on myself to reach that goal anytime soon. I’ll be in my online classes for at least 18 more months, but giving him the ability to communicate with me solely in German is definitely the end-goal.
All that being said, today I want to give you just a tiny taste of the difficulties of the German language:
For those of you who have studied a foreign language, you may know that English is one of the only languages that doesn’t assign genders to nouns. In Spanish, for example, you have two words for the English word “the”; el and la. “La Chica” (the girl) is of course feminine, and “el chico” (the boy) is masculine. It’s all the same to us in English though. It’s always just THE. Which is so. darn. fantabulous!
German, however, doesn’t just have masculine and feminine nouns, but neutral ones as well. The articles are as follows:
die (pronounced dee) = feminine
der = masculine
das = neutral
Tisch (table) is masculine so “the table” is “der Tisch” (In German ALL nouns are capitalized, by the way.)
However, it’s not enough to memorize that Tisch is masculine because in German, they are very concerned with sentence structure.
If the table is the subject of the sentence, you use the Nominativ case and the article remains “der.” (der Tisch).
If the table is the indirect object in the sentence, you use the Dativ case and the article gets changed from der to dem. It is now “dem Tisch.”
If the table is the direct object in the sentence, it is the Akkusative case and the article gets changed to den. It is now “den Tisch.”
So to sum up, “the table” in German can either be “der Tisch,” “dem Tisch,” or “den Tisch” depending on the role in plays in the sentence.
So, when I try to form sentences in German, first I must know the gender of the noun. Then, I must decide if the noun is the subject, indirect object, or direct object of the sentence. From there I must be able to remember how the original article gets changed based on the classification of the noun within the sentence. And don’t even get me started on sentences with TWO nouns! Aye yie yie!
Ich muss täglich üben! (I must practice daily!)
There, if you actually made it through this post (mom, you still with me?) then you have felt the tiniest bit of my pain. Now go speak English to someone and use the word “the” loudly and proudly! Shout it out! Make it heard!
THE THE THE!