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I am studying B2 German in the VHS. Today the teacher corrected the sentence:

"Ich habe ein Paar Fragen"

to:

"Ich habe ein paar Fragen"

But he couldn't explain why if "paar" isn't a noun (and capitalised) the "ein" is declined as though it were. I mean "ein Paar" is correct but "ein Fragen" not.

Can someone explain this anomaly

  • Ein Paar can be considered a noun if you exactly mean a 2 couple. Ein paar generally means several. – πάντα ῥεῖ Jan 8 at 20:35
  • @πάντα ῥεῖ That doesn't answer the question I asked which is why is the indefinite article declined as though for a neutral noun. – Steve Jan 8 at 20:38
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    @David Vogt Thanks. '"Ein" is a part of "ein paar" and "ein paar" is an unchangeable pronoun.' seems to explain it. If you post that as an answer I will accept it. – Steve Jan 8 at 21:19
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    Think of "ein paar" as a fixed expression. It's just how it is... – waka Jan 8 at 21:19
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Das Paar is a noun and therefore the article is declined as in

ein Paar (nominative)

eines Paares (genitive)

einem Paar (dative)

ein Paar (accusative).

Ein paar in ein paar Fragen however is a fixed expression. Therein ein isn't an indefinite article but just a part of the expression like in

ein paar Fragen (some questions)

ein wenig Zucker (some sugar)

ein bisschen Zeit (a bit of time).

Ein wenig ... and ein bisschen ... are equivalent to etwas. For countable things one uses ein paar instead.

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  • Thank you very much. That answers my question! – Steve Jan 10 at 8:23
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There is the noun "ein Paar", which means two associated humans or objects (das glückliche Paar = the happy couple, die Paar Schuhe = the pair of shoes) and there is the pronoun "paar" which means some or few and which is often combined as a fixed expression as "ein paar".

Examples:

alle paar Wochen = every few weeks

ein paar Menschen = some people

So the meaning determines to capitalization:

Ich habe ein paar Schuhe = I have a few (pairs of) shoes

Ich habe ein Paar Schuhe = I have one pair of shoes


In regard of your question: "Ein paar Fragen" refers to few/some questions as questions are usually not handled in pairs. In questionnaires and games that's sometimes the case and - as @hajef pointed out - in that specific case, "ein Paar Fragen" would be correct, thought one usually would say "ein Fragenpaar".

I actually never heard someone use ein Paar Fragen in the meaning of one pair of questions or "Fragenpaar". I think, it's more common to use "zwei zusammengehörende Fragen" (= two related questions)

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    Do you think it is useful to add that "ein Paar Fragen" is very uncommon for "Fragen"? – Shegit Brahm Jan 9 at 9:30
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    Qestions are not usually handled in pairs. In case of jokes or riddles there might well be two questions that are only meaningful together. In that specific case, "ein Paar Fragen" would be correct, thought one usually would say "ein Fragenpaar". – hajef Jan 9 at 9:38
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    One may, in special situations, have ein "Fragen-Paar". This then implies that there are two questions, and they are interrelated. Could for example happen in a quiz were always two questions at once have to be answered. But that's a very special situation of course. – Christian Geiselmann Jan 9 at 12:00
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    This "answer" is again about the difference between ein Paar (a couple) and ein paar (a few). My question is about the declination of the indefinate article in the second instance "...ein paar Fragen". This "answer" doesn't answer my question at all. David Vogt gave a link above which contained the statement '"Ein" is a part of "ein paar" and "ein paar" is an unchangeable pronoun.' and this comes closest to answering my actual question. – Steve Jan 9 at 18:26
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    @Steve It’s sadly become quite customary in this community to ignore the actual question and answer a similar, common question that German learners often have instead... and those answers even get upvotes. – idmean Jan 10 at 17:37

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