Words of the Day – “Fröhliche Weihnachten”

weihnachtenHello everyone,

it’s Christmas time. Hooray. Or Boohray… depends on whether you like it or not :).
But for us it’ll be business as usual, I guess. Today we’ll talk about the word Weihnachten a bit. Weihnachten is a nice sounding word and I have to say that I like it much better than Christmas. Not to mention the awful X-mas… like it’s an energy drink or something.

  • X-mas™ – keeps you up the wholy night*
    (*contains Caffeine)

It has Nacht in it and it starts with Weih which comes from the verb weihen which means to…  and I am already bored :). Seriously…. we’ll take a break form learning today. Weihnachten means Christmas and Christmas means a lot of different things to people around the world… like eating,  going to church, seeing the family, arguing with the family, going for a walk in the snow, deep and agonizing depression, loneliness, working, singing Christmas chorals, ginger bread, nothing, 3 days off and last but not least Weihnachten means presents. And so I decided to give you one too to thank you all for all your comments and questions and feedback.
It is a chart about the German cases… and it is… well.. a little different than the usual charts. Here it is…

German-Cases-Weird-Chart

I’m sure you’ll be like … “what the hell is that?” so I’ll add a little explanation here and you can of course ask all your questions. It is by no means complete. It is more an overview about the most important aspects and I tried to fit in the basics that you need every day without cluttering a page with tables… honestly… I hate tables.
Anyway… if it doesn’t work for you that’s totally fine. I just had it sitting on my computer and I thought I might as well put it out there :).
So…. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas holiday with lots of love and joy and peace or whatever else you wish for. Oh and for those of you you don’t celebrate Weihnachten at all… well… have a wonderful normal day or a normal day with all stores closed :).
So again… fröhliche Weihnachten euch allen!
And here’s my favorite Christmas song…

Explanations for the chart

The numbers: stand for the cases. 1 is Nominative, 3 is Dative and 4 is Accusative. 2 would be Genitive but it is missing. The numbers are like that because this is the German order of cases and I used that back when I made this chart a few years ago. Students learn the order Nominative, Accusative, Dative, Genitive and it makes sense to do it that way. So maybe I’ll rework the page at some point but I hope you can make sense of it anyway … it’s just stupid numbers after all.

The boxes in the center: are ordered by gender – male, female, neuter and plural and inside of them you find the definite article (the), the indefinite article (a) and the personal pronoun (he/she/it) in all 3 cases. The small, italic endings that you can see here and there give you the indefinite article.

  • Ist das ein Mann?
    Ja, das ist einer.

The little drawer on the bottom with the weird circle symbol and sich  is the reflexive pronoun. It is the same for all boxes. The small drawer on the left bottom is the stem of the possessive… so the basis for  his, her, its and their.

The slider on the bottom of the page: shows the cases of all other personal pronouns like I, you, we and they. The black something is supposed to be a wallet. I wanted it to indicate possession but so far no one was able to identify it :). Anyway… the words with that symbol are the stems for my, your, our and their.

The weird drawing in the middle: is an attempt to visualize the basic pattern of cases that works for maybe 90 % of all verbs. That is, the “use Accusative by default” and the “transfer” idea that is inside of most of the actions that have 2 objects.

On the sides: you will find examples for verbs that only take Accusative (case 4) and only Dative (case 3). Also for those that take 4 and possibly 3. Note that for all those transfer-verbs the Dative is kind of optional and you can make  a sentence just fine without it. It’ll be more or less idiomatic depending on the verb.
If you questions, go right ahead and leave me a comment. And if you have thoughts on what works and what doesn’t please share them. It is really more of a work in progress.

for members :)

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Lynn
Lynn

I like your ‘weird chart’. Making A graphic organizer like this that combines ALL the many rules German follows is difficult and it’s nice especially to see one from a German mind. A couple things for if you change it to go to how German’s taught in NA:
1. The slider at bottom of page is for I, you (sing), we and you (pl) (sie pl is they, ihr is you (plural) or what my students call the ‘you guys word’ 2. On the sides: the key dative only verbs we first learn in level are danken, gefallen, glauben, helfen, passen, stehen, (wehtun, Leidtun) (having it in alphabetical order can help with the learning). Then we learn scheinen, felhlen and folgen. I see why you left off glauben as it can be followed by either, which is something that isn’t taught till later level, and of course wehtun and Leidtun are idioms, but really think helfen, passen, stehen, should go on your outside somewhere. I love your 4 (+3) list and the graphic for that!! I’m confused by the 4 + 4 thought, these are accusative followed by accusative?? When you do roll this chart out for real examples of each sentence pattern will be useful. Fröhliche Weihnacten!

André Rhine-Davis
André Rhine-Davis

From what I understand, the 4+4 verbs are ones that take two objects in the accusative. Emanuel has mentioned that such verbs exist, but are very rare.
So I’m guessing that you’d say “Ich frage dich die Frage”.

btw Emanuel, why do you have the 1, 3, 4 boxes slowly falling down above the female box?
And shouldn’t the neuter indefinite pronoun be “eines” rather than “eins”? Or is that the casual way of saying it?

At the moment, it’s adjectives I’m struggling on… it takes me about 5 to 10 seconds to inflect an adjective for gender, case and strength!

Barbara Krickl
Barbara Krickl

In the Genitive it is usually ‘eines’. In Nominative and Accusative it is usually ‘eins’, especially in speech. The same goes for kein(e)s when it is used as pronoun.
If a noun (in the gentivie or dative) follows you’ll find ‘eines’ more often, particularly in ‘Hochdeutsch’. When I speak my dialekt I never use ‘eines’ or ‘keines’. I only do so in ‘Hochdeutsch’ and even then it does sound a bit stilted.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader

Ich möchte auch was teilen. Als ich begonnen habe, die Adjektivdeklination zu lernen, war ich total verwirrt, weil es so viele Varianten zu geben schien. Und in allen Lehrbüchern gab es immer jene drei nicht wirklich nachvollziehbaren Tabellen mit Endungen, die unmöglich sind, auswendig zu lernen.

Ich habe die aber gelernt, indem ich meine eigene Tabelle erstellt habe, in welcher sowohl alle Endungen, als auch die meisten Pronomen dargestellt sind, und zwar auf solche Weise, dass es einfacher wäre, die Beziehungen zwischen den Kasus (bzw. Fällen) und den Endungen zu beobachten.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bxm1ZNIgnYhnSGZISHg3TVBVSnM/

Ich weiß nicht, ob es geklappt hat, weil die hierdurch entstandene Tabelle manchen Menschen auch zu kompliziert scheinen könnte, aber es geht hier nicht um meine Tabelle an sich (sie zu lesen ist sowieso eine passive, d.h. wenig bringende Aktivität), sondern darum, dass man was Eigenes machen könnte, und genau durch den Vorgang selber würde man vermutlich lernen.

Lynn
Lynn

Thanks André! I figured she had the 1.3.4 falling down as she didn’t have any down below – making the chart more simple and clean graphically. ‘Eines’ is used for the genitive masculine and neuter, so to say: ‘Das ist eines’ for the neuter indefinite pronoun would be confusing, to say the least. It sounds right to say ‘Das ist eins/meins/etc.’ but I don’t know the rule for that. As far as adjective endings, I found Emanuel’s post on that very useful. I especially liked the idea to just be sure to have ‘e’ or ‘en’ so the meter is correct. :) BTW, what do you mean by ‘and strength’? PS. I didn’t know how to correct my typo error above – Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Paul
Paul

Ein frohes Weihnachtsfest und alles Gute zum neuen Jahr!!

Mike W
Mike W

I hope you (Emanuel) and your followers (of the blog) have a very merry Weihnachten, and a happy and prosperous Silvester :-D

unsandled
unsandled

Merry Christmas Emmanuel!. Have a great day!.

Daniel
Daniel

Awesome chart! I have an addition: maybe “welch-” could be added to the indefinite plural section?

eg. Sind das Äpfel?
Ja, das sind welche.

Also, I like how on the feminine the numbers disappear – the 3 looks like a 2 as well because Genitive and Dative look the same… and the 4 is completely gone because it’s not different to 1! I wonder if that was intentional…. hm?

Lucius
Lucius

Hello Emmanuel, I just wanted to thank you very much for all your efforts and kindness, and wish you and your family a very happy 2014, Lucius

Anonymous
Anonymous

Danke Manuel for the posts all year. However when I saw the tile of this newest post, I was hoping you could expain a simple question for me. What is the difference between Weihnacht und Weihnachten? Why do I see these two words used interchangably? I know they both mean Christmas but why the difference?

Lucius
Lucius

Hello Emmanuel, I know that you discussed anstellen in a few lines along with haben. Would you consider a complete discussion of anstellen because it is so common? herzlichen Dank, Lucius

Anonymous
Anonymous

BTW: Nancy Thuleen has a very good write up on adjective declination, that includes an excellent graphic. I was able to learn adjective declination within just a couple of days using her information. Here is a link if you are interested: http://www.nthuleen.com/teach/grammar/adjektivendungenexpl.html
Nice write up and I too like your chart, although Tables don’t give me any heartburn. I have, at this time, only received two mailings and I commend you on some excellent work. Vielen Dank! Bill