7

This question also has an answer here (in German):
Warum benutzt man „es“?

If it is valid to say

Das ist meine Mutter.

can I say this, too?

Das ist meine Schwester.

I was taught that

Sie ist meine Schwester.

is the correct form.

In both cases, the object of the sentence is a female and the verb is the same. Hence my confusion.

  • 2
    Compare "It's my sister" vs. "She's my sister". – Eller Jan 8 '16 at 14:35
  • 2
    @Alex.S: this is actually quite different to the German usage – Gerhard Jan 9 '16 at 8:15
8

The sentences have two slightly different uses:

Das ist meine Schwester.

would be used when e.g. introducing your sister to a group of people. It pretty much has the same meaning as

Dies ist meine Schwester.

i.e. it is demonstrative.

Sie ist meine Schwester.

on the other hand is just a general statement, and my impression is that it is actually not used very often in this context.

  • 1
    A a native speaker, "dies" sounds wrong (even though it probably grammatically correct). I would say "Das ist ...". – Iris Jan 8 '16 at 14:00
  • 1
    @Iris As a native speaker, "dies" doesn't sound wrong to me - I'd prefer it over "das" in e.g. introductory situations or when pointing her out amongst a group of people. – hiergiltdiestfu Jan 8 '16 at 14:52
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    @Iris: to me, "Dies" does not sound wrong at all; it is a different register though, and I'd rather use it in a formal context than a casual one. And it illustrates the point what "das" does in this case better than just calling it demonstrative. – Gerhard Jan 8 '16 at 15:39
  • 1
    @Iris: "Dies" sounds wrong or at least very uncommon to me as well as a native speaker coming from the very north of Germany. In my ears "dies" refers more to an object I own than to a person. – elsni Nov 17 '16 at 12:45
9

If you are standing together with a friend and your sister you could point at her and say

Das ist meine Schwester.

If your are in a conversation with a friend and you are talking about Eva, you could add

Sie ist meine Schwester.

1

Okay I'm German. Das ist meine Schwester = That is my sister. Also use 'Das' for 'this'. The literal translation for 'this' is 'dies' in German, but we often times say Das instead of Dies.

Sie ist meine Schwester =She is my sister

The use is exactly the same as in English I would say.

Let's say you talk to somebody and you tell him blablabla Stephanie blablabla Stephanie.. After some time the other guy would ask Who is Stephanie? And you would either answer 'meine Schwester' or 'sie ist meine Schwester. If Stephanie has not been any topic so far, and the other person also does not know her and suddenly Stephanie appears next to you, you would say 'and btw, Das ist meine Schwester'.

Really use it exactly as you would use 'that/this is my sister' vs 'she is my sister' in English. I think you will be right in 100% of the cases.

  • Most of the answerers here are German ;) The way you phrased your first sentence makes it sound as if you were the only one … – Jan Nov 12 '16 at 16:24
  • Also, I don’t see this answer adding much to the others which already state this (albeit in a different way). – Jan Nov 12 '16 at 16:25

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