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I was trying to translate the sentence - This is the most beautiful flower in the garden.

The app showed:

Das ist die schönste Blume im Garten.

Question 1: Can we use "Das" instead of "That"? I thought, der/die/das was used instead of "the" and there is no exception.

I understand that in German, the choice between the definite articles "der," "die," and "das" depends on the gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter) and case (nominative, accusative, dative, genitive) of the noun they accompany.

I had translated the sentence to: Diese ist die schönste Blume im Garten however I have been told

Diese Blume ist die schönste im Garten" is the correct translation

But, I don't understand why.

Question 2: Please help me with the correct translation and also explain why my translation is incorrect.

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  • related: german.stackexchange.com/questions/50446/…
    – Carsten S
    Jul 4, 2023 at 16:21
  • @CarstenS thank you for linking the answer. That answer's my first question :)
    – Emily John
    Jul 4, 2023 at 19:49
  • As addition to the answers which explain the differences: your translation is correct and fine. There is not one correct one, but several Jul 5, 2023 at 7:48

3 Answers 3

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Es and das at the beginning of a main clause are often expletives — fillers. They don't refer to any particular item in the clause directly. So they are not declined to match that item. But they are only put there to have something in front of the verb in second position. So that verb is in fact in second position. Another word that resembles this even more closely is dies.

Es/Das/Dies ist die schönste Blume im Garten.

Das is a pointing finger to the thing referred to, and dies is even more pointy. Compare that and this. Es on the contrary is very weak, as in It is the most …

Diese ist die schönste Blume im Garten.

This is also correct but it says This one is the most beautiful flower in the garden. rather than This is the most … as Diese refers to the subject in an even more definite manner.

Diese Blume ist die schönste im Garten.

This on the other hand means This flower is the most beautiful one in the garden.

In short:

  • it — es
  • that — das
  • this — dies
  • this one — dieser/diese/dieses
  • that one — jener/jene/jenes
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  • Thank you for your quick response and valuable insights!
    – Emily John
    Jul 5, 2023 at 13:31
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All the definite articles can also be used as demonstrative pronouns, in which case they mean something like "that". So "Das ist die schönste Blume im Garten." is a good sentence.

"Diese ist die schönste Blume im Garten." = "This one is the most beautiful flower in the garden."

"Diese Blume ist die schönste im Garten." = "This flower is the most beautiful one in the garden."

So all your example sentences are grammatically perfectly fine.

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  • Thank you so much :)
    – Emily John
    Jul 5, 2023 at 13:31
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Der, die, das - the articles - are a bit more versatile than their English counterpart the. They can perform the following functions:

  • the article function

    Der Mann ist gross
    Die Frau hält das Kind an der Hand
    Das Essen war sehr lecker

  • the relative pronoun function

    Der Mann, der gerade hereinkommt, ist mein Vater
    Die Frau, die dort hinten steht, ist meine Mutter
    Das Mädchen, das nach vorne geht, ist meine Schwester

  • the demonstrative pronoun function

    Der [/dieser] Mann ist der Täter!
    Die Frau hat nicht bezahlt!
    Das ist die schönste Blume im Garten.

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  • Thanks a lot :)
    – Emily John
    Jul 5, 2023 at 13:32

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