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My friend asked me a question today:

Woher kommen deine Eltern?

and I wanted to answer

My parents come from Afghanistan.

I know that the nationality in German for "Afghan" is afghanisch with die Afghanin and der Afghane for the respective individuals.

I failed to find any source for when the people in concern are plural.

What happens in that instance? Do we add the plural ending to "afghanisch" i.e. afghanische or what happens?

I thought it would be

Meine Eltern sind afghanische

but I'm not sure.

EDIT my other thought was

Meine Eltern sind Afghanen.

but again I'm not too sure.

  • 3
    "Meine Eltern sind afghanische": note that even if this was the right way to express your parents' nationality, it would be "Meine Eltern sind afghanisch" without the e. Adjectives in final position (more precisely, predicative adjectives) don't take endings. – TonyK May 6 at 21:41
16

Your thought in the edit was correct: If you want to refer to multiple Afghans in German, the plural noun Afghanen is used. It comprises male and female individuals alike.

Meine Eltern sind Afghanen.
(My parents are Afghans.)

However, if you want to explicitly refer to female Afghans, the noun Afghaninnen, which is the plural of Afghanin, is used.

Heute traf ich zwei Afghaninnen.
(Today I met two Afghan women.)

The word afghanisch is an adjective, which has to be declined appropriately. Its role is to modify noun phrases.

Ich habe einen afghanischen Vater.
(I have an Afghan father.)

Ich habe eine afghanische Mutter.
(I have an Afghan mother.)

Ich habe ein afghanisches Patenkind.
(I have an Afghan godchild.)

Ich habe afghanische Eltern.
(I have Afghan parents.)


Addendum
In case that, as user @McLovin believes, you really just wanted to know what "My parents come from Afghanistan" means in German, the answer is simply

Meine Eltern kommen aus Afghanistan.

  • 2
    And, to add, an Afghane in common German speech is also the Afghan hound. – Janka May 6 at 17:54
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    great! I hate to ask, but in the sentence "Meine Eltern sind Afghanen" is the "Afghanen" a plural noun that we use in this sentence? – vik1245 May 6 at 17:55
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    @Janka, and I thought it is a kind of weed. – Carsten S May 6 at 22:00
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    @McLovin No, OP's specifically asking for the correct way of expressing the nationality. He is using the sentence "My parents come from Afghanistan" as the English expression of that. – sgf May 7 at 8:59
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    @McLovin: Für solche Fälle gibt es den Flag not an answer. Zudem kommt eine eigene Antwort in der Regel besser an, als ein neidischer Kommentar. Ob die dann aber mehr Upvotes verdient, steht auf einem anderen Blatt. – Björn Friedrich May 7 at 10:26
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Woher kommen deine Eltern?

There's no need to return a full sentence by repeating »Eltern« and »kommen«, the most simple (and probably most common) answer would be:

Aus Afghanistan.

Some say just

Afghanistan.

which is less polite, because one may get the impression that you want to kill the conversation instantly by giving a minimal answer.

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    Beim Sprachunterricht gilt aber das Mantra "im ganzen Satz!". – user unknown May 6 at 19:51
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    @userunknown Bei vielen schlechten Sprachlehrern ist es leider so, dass nur eine synthetische und normgerechte Sprache unterrichtet wird. Das ist vermutlich eine der wichtigsten Ursachen dafür, und in Deutschland leider sehr stark verbreitet, dass Schüler trotz vieler Jahre Sprachunterricht weder in der Lage sind die gelernte Sprache praxistauglich zu verstehen noch zu verwenden. Zum Glück waren meine Deutschlehrer nicht so, sonst hätte ich hier nicht schreiben können. – jarnbjo May 7 at 10:33
4

Direct translation of your English sentence:

Meine Eltern kommen aus Afghanistan.

That avoids all the hassle of finding out how the adjectives must be declinated.

Otherwise you can write:

Meine Eltern sind afghanisch (no -e).

But:

Ich habe afghanische Eltern.

Don't ask me about the rules for this: I speak the language pretty well, but don't know much about the rules behind this, i.e. when to declinate or when to use the base form of the adjective.

You can also write:

Meine Eltern sind Afghanen.

or, if asked about only one parent:

Meine Mutter ist Afghanin

or

Mein Vater is Afghane.

  • 1
    I don't think anybody would really say that last sentence, would they? – TonyK May 6 at 21:43
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    Also, Meine Eltern sind afghanisch is grammatically correct, but people wouldn't say that. It sounds mildly pejorative to speak of people's ethnicitcy by a predicative adjective ("sind ...-isch"). – sgf May 6 at 22:14
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    Well, they are from the same country. So nobody would put it like that in real life. – TonyK May 6 at 22:54
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    @RudyVelthuis "Meine Eltern sind niederländisch" also sounds slightly pejorative to me. It sounds as if you're actually saying "Meine Eltern sind sooo niederländisch." (Meaning all the clichés about Dutch people hold for them.) I think this is also what O.R. Mapper is getting at. – sgf May 7 at 8:56
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    @rackandboneman: <sigh> that "sentence" is merely a demonstration of the declinations, nothing else. I will rewrite the answer so I don't get any more unnecessary comments about that sentence. Of course one wouldn't say all these things at once: Afghanen, Afghanin, Afghane. You say the one that is appropriate. – Rudy Velthuis May 7 at 11:34
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I would rather say

Meine Eltern sind aus Afghanistan.

then

Meine Eltern sind Afghanen.

in German. Both are technically correct, but the first association the word Afghane might trigger in Germans is the dog and not the nationality.

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    Dem letzten Satz muss ich vehement widersprechen. In den letzten Jahren war Afghanistan aus vielerlei Gründen Thema in den Medien. Wollen Sie ernsthaft behaupten, deutsche Medienkonsumenten hätten zuallererst an Hunde gedacht? Zudem wusste ich bis gestern nicht einmal von der Hunderasse. Das mag eine Bildungslücke gewesen sein, doch vermutlich teile ich die mit vielen anderen Menschen. – Björn Friedrich May 7 at 16:10
  • @BjörnFriedrich I totally agree. But without this sentence this would be a solid answer worth upvoting. – miep May 8 at 9:32
  • @miep, I disagree. Just saying, "I would rather do it like this" is not worth being upvoted at all. To make the point clear: I personally like the second sentence more than the first one. So, what is user foo's reason to prefer the first one? Is it a matter of right or wrong? Of style? Of sound? Or is it really only because he imagines dogs? In the latter case, this subjective answer is not good. – Björn Friedrich May 8 at 10:33
  • i would say it would be fine if the reason would something like "as this is more used" or "there is no missinterpretation of the sentence" – miep May 8 at 13:38
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Meine Eltern kommen aus Afghanistan.

All the other suggestion sound strange or complicated from a native speakers perspective.

  • "Meine Eltern sind Afghanen." What is so complicated in this sentence? – Björn Friedrich May 8 at 10:38
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    It sounds artificial if used in the given context, because it stresses that the parents are (still) afghan citizens. In general it is enough to say the country of origin if being asked "Woher kommen deine Eltern?". – kahranna May 8 at 12:16
  • Afghane can also mean the dog breed. Therefore I'd prefer "... aus Afghanistan". Same is true for Weimarer and Weimaraner, the former is a person, the latter a dog. – Steffen Roller May 13 at 18:17

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