9

This question is about that and the. The sentence

Ist das Geschenk für mich?

means both of the following:

Is the gift for me? Is that gift for me?

My confusion is that that is das and the is also das if the noun is neuter.

So now I wish to translate:

Is that cup for me?

where Tasse is feminine? Can the following be correct?

Ist das Tasse für mich?

9

If you want to say "that object" then you need to match gender and case. Correct would be

Ist die Tasse für mich?

or more generally if you just want to say "that"

Ist das für mich?

Or you can combine the two usages

Ist das die Tasse für mich?

  • 2
    Ist das meine Tasse? – Rudy Velthuis Mar 9 '18 at 20:43
  • @PiedPiper: You're right. I totally missed that possible meaning. – David Foerster Mar 10 '18 at 0:38
  • So just for my own pedantic confirmation - saying Ist die für mich (or Ist der für mich for say der Bleistift) is not correct and would sound clunky/weird? – BruceWayne Mar 10 '18 at 19:46
  • 2
    @BruceWayne "Ist die für mich?" works too if the context is clear: if it's obvious you mean "die Tasse" and not "der Becher" or "das Getränk" – PiedPiper Mar 11 '18 at 13:04
12

The problem you might have is that das is both an article (translating to the) and a pronoun (this).

So

Ist das das Geschenk für mich?

(stylistically not exactly elegant) translates to

Is this the gift for me?

and

Ist das Geschenk für mich?

Can both mean

Is this gift for me?

or

Is the gift for me?

You can work around the ambiguity by using "dieses" which is clearly a pronoun and translates to "this":

Ist dieses Geschenk für mich?

With regards to other genders than neuter, you use "der" and "die" like in

Ist der Schuh für mich?

Ist die Tasse für mich?

And you can also extend this with a demonstrative pronoun and end up like

Ist das der Schuh für mich?

Ist das die Tasse für mich?

  • Why not: "Ist das Geschenk für mich?" --> "Is that gift for me"? – Rudy Velthuis Mar 9 '18 at 20:47
  • @RudyVelthuis There is some overlap in meaning. Yes, you can translate "dieser" with "this" and "das" with "that", but that doesn't mean you never could translate "das" with "this". (But it's subtle, and that's what makes it difficult to grasp. Things like that still give me away as a foreigner while typing English.) – Mr Lister Mar 10 '18 at 8:00
  • @MrLister: I don't think there is a big or even subtle difference between English and German in this respect (nor between those two and, say, Dutch, for what it's worth). – Rudy Velthuis Mar 10 '18 at 22:32

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