Exodus 1:1 of the Lutherbibel (1984) reads:

Dies sind die Namen der Söhne Israels, die mit Jakob nach Ägypten kamen; ein jeder kam mit seinem Hause.

These are the names of the sons of Israel, who with Jacob came to Egypt; each one came with his own house.

I understand the gist of it, but I'm a little confused by the choice of "Dies". I looked up this word and found that it's an alternative to "Dieser/diese/dieses" in the nominative/accusative neuter. Shouldn't the gender and number of "Dies" match the gender and number of "Namen" (masculine and plural)? In which case, you would expect the masculine plural form "Diese", would you not?

1 Answer 1


In sentences with a copula, the neuter singular demonstratives dies, es, and das can be used as subject pronouns to refer to a noun of any of the three genders in the predicate, and also to a plural noun:

Es ist ein Schreibtisch (m.)
Das ist deine Lampe (f.)
Dies ist mein Auto (n.)
Es/Das/Dies sind schöne Blumen (pl.)

  • 3
    It is even rather "must be used", not "can be used". You would never say "Diese sind schöne Blumen". You always say "Dies sind schöne Blumen." If you say "Diese sind schöne Blumen" you signal to your audience that you are a non-native speaker with less than perfect command of German. Sep 26, 2017 at 11:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.