Where does the rumour come from that learning German is very challenging and that German is a difficult language?
Is it because of the four different cases we have in the German language? Is the name dative so scary for many German students that they get scared just by this grammar word?
If you compare the German case with the Russian case, the Germans seem almost laughable. The Russian language has six different cases, which is even two more than the German language. And we'll add one more, because the Polish language even has seven different cases. In addition, German grammar sounds easy and only half as difficult as learning Russian or Polish.
So is learning German perhaps not so difficult after all?
We'll get to the bottom of this question.
What else could make non-German speakers afraid of German?
Ah yes, there are the articles in German. Oh yes... the old familiar song. Is it "der" apple, "die" apple, "das" apple and what the hell is now "die" apples? Steve Jobs would probably say "das" apple-mobile-phone, which would be a grammatical bull's eye.
But yes, Apfel is masculine in German, so "der Apfel", please remember.
Where do these three death riders of German grammar actually come from?
We don't have them in our language for fun, nor do we have them to annoy all the people who want to learn German or to drive them up the wall. The mere assumption that this would be the case would still be amusing. But theoretically, one could simply follow the English principle, one is enough. By the way, Croatian doesn't have an article, that's nice too, isn't it? To make German look easy in the context of articles, Swahili has more than twenty articles. That's the final challenge for article-enthusiastic learners.
But anyway, first things first.
Let's start simply, the distinction in genus. To learn German, it doesn't take long to realise that there is a masculine article that is used exclusively for masculine persons and who would have guessed that there is a feminine article that is used exclusively for feminine persons. But wait, there is a little confusion with the word girl. Obviously a feminine word, presenting for a feminine person. So the article is feminine? Right thought, but exception proves the rule, as they say in German. Mädchen is "unfortunately" (unfortunately from the perspective of a German learner, no political statement here from us) neutral, which leads to much frustration in German lessons. Well, on with the context. So all males have a masculine article in the grammar (der) and all females have a feminine article in the grammar (die).
Looking back at the origin of the articles, the history goes back to Indo-European, where there were no articles yet, but they must have arisen afterwards. Greek was then probably one of the first languages to have articles, though mostly as a support for the number of a thing. To explain the history in detail would probably be the size of a new best-selling novel, so we will limit ourselves to the here and now. The fact is, we have three different articles in German and we need to learn them, the best way to learn a noun is to combine it immediately with its proper article. Plural, by the way, for those of you who haven't done a German course at GermanStudios, is exactly the same article as feminine, namely "die". How can you tell the difference between feminine and plural? The words themselves are written differently, often in the plural with an umlaut. For all those who are now thinking, Umlaut - what's the big deal? More on that later, but one thing should already be revealed, it is a painterly execution of the letter or, as some would call it, an embellishment. (small metaphor on the side).
The focus in our German lessons is primarily on the three singular articles der,das,die.
The German language has received influences from various languages in the course of its development. Influences from the North, from the East and, of course, the basis Latin and its offshoots have shaped the German language enormously. Articles from the Nordic languages in particular catch on very well in German. It often happens that nouns are exactly opposite in comparison to Spanish, Italian or Portuguese. Sun, for example, is feminine in German and masculine in Italian. Moon is masculine in German, feminine in Spanish. Interesting, isn't it? And this works not only with weather objects, but with numerous other examples.
In short, before the text goes on ad infinitum, which would be quite possible but we don't want to bore you, when you start learning German, you should put the nouns in German into categories. You will quickly notice that many categories, such as materials are mostly neutral in German, have a high number of the same article. This helps immensely when learning German. Example sentences also help, preferably from your everyday life, funny, sad, exciting. Emotional connections between the sentences and your thoughts, experiences or adventures consolidate your learning success.
GermanStudios, your language school for German in Berlin, no worries regarding the fact we are based in Berlin, anyone can study with us because we are an online language school, helps you and in the next blog we will give you real help on how easy it actually is with the difficult articles, which are somehow only half as difficult as everyone always says.
So, thank you for your attention and good luck with your studies.
A little tip: you shouldn't miss the next blog entry about the various tricks and aids for learning articles. Learning German is doable and we'll show you how.
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