and welcome back to our
brain wrecking, cramp inducing, no mercy having German summer boot camp.
Yup, that’s a thing now :)!
Last week, we got sweaty over the question how to translate before and after and this week, we’ll take on one of everyone’s favorite grammar topics:
And we’ll do something a little bit unusual, something that is kind of rare to find but that I think might be really helpful… we’ll eliminate gender from the equation.
Cases are quite a big topic. There’s the different endings for different word groups, then the question of which case to use with verbs and which case to use with prepositions. And overall it’s way too much to digest at once, so it’s broken down into little chunks. Like… the section about Accusative case in a beginners book. Or a chart of the definite articles for all cases. Or a lecture about Two Way Prepositions and which case to use.
There are many ways, to break up the big topic cases into smaller chunks, but there is one thing that most textbooks and exercises you can find online have in common… they deal with all three genders at a time.
And I’m not so sure this is very helpful.
You see, the grammatical gender itself has NOTHING to do with cases in the sense that they don’t influence each other. They just both influence which entry of a table is correct.
But picking the right gender for a noun and the right case are two completely independent tasks. If you got the case right but you were wrong about the gender, your answer will be wrong and you’ll have this little moment of failure. And maybe you don’t even know whether the case or the gender was the problem.
And another thing is, that you can’t build up automatisms if you’re constantly gender hopping. Let me give you an example…
- I see a dog. It is running.
It translated to er, because Hund is masculine in German. For an English speaker it is already an effort not to say “es” here. By knowing the gender, by knowing that it’s NOT es, your free up brain capacity that can actually really notice this it and thus build awareness.
Not sure if that made sense. But either way… I want to try out a new kind of exercise and see how it works for you and how you like it.
And I’ll give a warning right away…
!! This exercise is a challenge for B1 learners !!
You can of course try it as a beginner. In fact, you might learn a LOT. But it will be virtually impossible for you to get even close to 50% correct. And even for B1 learners, it is a challenge.
So here’s what we’ll do: I’ll give you a statement in English and you have to translate it, using the proper words in the proper case.
And you’ll need pretty much the entire case skill set… Here’s an example.
- “I see a dog. It is sitting on a table. Is it yours?”
“No, I don’t have a dog.”
- “Ich sehe einen Hund. Er sitzt auf einem Tisch. Ist es deiner?”
“Nein, ich habe keinen Hund.”
Articles, pronouns, indefinite pronouns, possessives, negations, two way prepositions… it’s pretty much all there, except for adjective endings and noun endings.
But what you don’t need to worry about is the gender. Dog is masculine, table is masculine. All these nouns will be masculine. So you can forget about the other genders completely. Still, I know it’s quite a tough exercise.
But the goal isn’t to just fill in some gaps with the correct form from a table.
The goal is rather that you build up a feeling how a masculine entity “moves” through an everyday statement or dialogue. We’ll go over lots of really common situations, and you’ll see that there’s a rhythm to it. And even if you feel lost in the beginning, I’m pretty sure you’ll get better toward the end.
If you have to answer something and you just pick the right answer based on gut feeling… PERFECT!! That’s the goal. And if you get it wrong, that’s also great because then you can analyze why you made a mistake and that’ll (slowly) build gut feeling.
Now, of course translation is a super mega challenge, so if you feel like that’s too much for now, then just click on the “?” to get the German version with gaps to fill. NO SHAME IN THAT!!
The solution is in the audio and you can also show it by clicking the circle O.
And if you want, you can type your solution into the text field. It doesn’t check it but you can compare it with the correct answer.
Oh and one more thing… I have a few examples where I’m using the possessive her and hers. I didn’t notice it right away, but now I realized that this might be confusing, since I said everything is masculine. The thing that is hers is masculine, not her herself.
I thought about changing the examples, but then I left them in because I thought it’s good to have this contrast between sein- (his) to ihr- (her) in the exercise.
Just wanted to mention that :).
Oh and yet another thing…. ONLY the nouns that are bold are all masculine. The ones you have to do the case work with.If you do translation, you will have to deal with all genders. Forgot to mention that but some people pointed that out in the comments :).
So now, I’d say… viel Spaß!!
What? Oh… you want a table with all the options?
Well, nope… since we’re doing pronouns and articles and possessives and all that, it would be a bunch of tables. The idea is NOT that you use a table. Just try to do it from your head, and if you don’t know an option… write it down. You’ll need it again. I think that’s the better way to learn than just picking a table cell.
“No, I have never seen him.”
“Nein, ich habe ____ nie gesehen.”
“Nein, ich habe ihn nie gesehen.”
“Yeah, I found it really good.”
“Ja, ich fand ____ sehr gut.”
“Ja, ich fand ihn sehr gut.”
“Yeah, it was really really really really really really good.”
“Ja, ____ war wirklich wirklich wirklich wirklich wirklich wirklich gut.”
“Ja, er war wirklich wirklich wirklich wirklich wirklich wirklich gut.”
“No, I’ll meet with him this afternoon.”
“Nein, ich treffe mich mit ____ heute Nachmittag.”
“Nein, ich treffe mich mit ihm heute Nachmittag.”
“No, I don’t have one either.”
“Nein, ich habe auch ____.”
“Nein, ich habe auch keinen.”
“It’s not mine.”
“Das ist nicht ____ .“
“Das ist nicht meiner.“
“No, it‘s not.”
“Nein, ist ____ nicht.”
“Nein, ist er nicht.”
Yeay, you made it.
I’m super mega curious… how did you do? Was it difficult? Was it too difficult? Do you hate me now?
Seriously, do you like this kind of exercise and do you think it is helpful for getting a feeling for cases? Let me know all your feedback (good and bad) in the comments.
As I said, it’s an experiment :).
Either way, I hope you enjoyed it and learned something. Have a great week and till next time.