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I've seen "es gibt" and "da ist/sind" a lot, but I was looking at the lyrics of "99 Luftballons", and it says "Das gab ein großes Feuerwerk". According to the translation, that means "There was a big fireworks display". This is the only time I've ever seen "das gibt" used. Is it just preference or is there a different connotation?

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  • Nena sang "es gab", not "das gab".
    – user41853
    Jul 9, 2021 at 10:32

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The "das" in the mentioned sentence stands for a result of something.

The firework was the result of the events coming before it and that is why "das" is used instead of "es".

The sentence

Es gab ein großes Feuerwerk

is absolutely correct as well and simply states:

There was a big firework.

The sentence

Das gab ein großes Feuerwerk

would be better translated as

The result was a big firework

The singer could also have said

Das ergab ein großes Feuerwerk

to stress that meaning even more. But that would not have matched the rhythm of the song (one syllable to much).

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Others have already said that "das gibt" means a specific condition leads to something and "es gibt" refers to a general situation leading to something. The balloons and a bunch of Kirks are more of a general situation, a picture of confusion and fear of imaginary intruders with bad intentions leading to military starting a preemptive attack ... on balloons.

Nena sang "Es gab ein großes ...", not "das". She just sang fluent every day German, well mostly.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fpu5a0Bl8eY at 1:52.

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Torsten is right, but the following could be added:

Using „das“ instead of „es“ (in many instances) is very common in colloquial speech in Northern Germany. It could be that some translation services know about this and some don’t.

Google Translate:

Das gab ein großes Feuerwerk. = That gave a great fireworks display.

Deepl.com:

Das gab ein großes Feuerwerk. = There were a lot of fireworks.

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