'Die' - used for 'that' and 'this'?

rammstein13579

New Member
English - American
Is "die" sometimes used as "that" or "this" or something like that, and if so, how can you tell when to use "das" as opposed to "die" meaning "that"
 
  • Wroclaw

    Senior Member
    American English
    The short answer to your initial question:
    Is "die" sometimes used as "that" or "this"
    is "yes." German, in effect, has three levels of third person pronouns:
    1) er/sie/es/ihn/ihm/ihr - these are neutral in meaning, just like he/she/it ...
    2) der/die/das/den/dem - the definite article used pronominally, as a mild demonstrative (Welchen Tisch möchten Sie kaufen? Den da. - Which table would you like to buy? That one.)
    3) das/dies- used as "true" demonstratives, to express English that/this as demonstrative pronouns. (Das ist mein Lieblingsbuch. - That is my favorite book.)
    As to your second question:
    how can you tell when to use "das" as opposed to "die" meaning "that"
    For one thing, "die" can only refer to feminine nouns in the nominative (subject) or accusative (direct object) case, whereas "das" can be used as a demonstrative pronoun to refer to any gender/case:
    Die Lampe da? Ja, die ist gut. Das ist eine gute Lampe. (The lamp over there? Yes, that one is good. That's a good lamp.)

    The more you read/listen to German, the better you will be able to feel out these types of distinctions!
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    For one thing, "die" can only refer to feminine nouns in the nominative (subject) or accusative (direct object) case, whereas "das" can be used as a demonstrative pronoun to refer to any gender/case:
    Die Lampe da? Ja, die ist gut. Das ist eine gute Lampe. (The lamp over there? Yes, that one is good. That's a good lamp.)
    To get a better feeling you can imagine the gender-neutral demonstrative "das" to stand for "das Ding" ("that thing"). To take Wroclaw's example:
    Die Lampe da? Ja, die [Lampe] ist gut. Das [Ding] ist eine gute Lampe.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    You can use it also for persons:

    Das ist ein guter Mensch.

    Das ist ein gutes Kind.
    Das ist eine gute Ingenieurin.
    Das sind gute Menschen.


    Here I do not know a good memory-hook (Eselsbrücke) as with "das Ding".
    You see: "Das" is gender-neutral in this context.
     

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    But what about:

    Der Mann da? Ja, der ist ein guter Mensch.

    Does that work? Das would be slightly different.

    I think you could say that der = he/that guy and das = that. (He's a good man vs. That's a good man.)

    Here I do not know a good memory-hook (Eselsbrücke) as with "das Ding".
    Mnemonic device. :)
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I think you could say that der = he/that guy and das = that. (He's a good man vs. That's a good man.)
    In German you have one subtlety more. In English you have

    He's a good man
    That's a good man.

    in German you have

    Er ist ein guter Mensch.
    Der ist ein guter Mensch.
    Das ist ein guter Mensch.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top