English: "There is/are"; Spanish: "hay"; (Defining an 'existence')

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deadimp

Member
English - USA
What is the equivalent of "there is/are" (="hay" in Spanish) in German? Are there more than one?
The reason I ask is that my German teacher said that "es gibt" (geben+es) is similar to Spanish's "hay"... However, I have also seen a different form of "there is/are" in another situation:
> Wenn getanzt wird[,] will ich führen - When there is dancing[,] I want to lead
[From my "Subject-Verb Order" question, phrase from the Rammstein song "Amerika"]
Is it because it is using a passive tense? Could it be written like this?
> Wenn es Tanzen gibt, ...
 
  • elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    It is, indeed, "es gibt."

    "Wenn getanzt wird" is a special German construction that literally means "When it is danced." "When there is dancing" is a more idiomatic, less literal translation.

    "Wenn es Tanzen gibt" is thinkable but not desirable.
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    The Umlaut said:
    Hola, el pasado "There was" "There were" es "Es gab"?
    Saludos!
    Ja, eventuell "es hat gegeben". Auch die Konjunktivform, "es gäbe", hört man ziemlich oft.

    Jana
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    The Umlaut said:
    Thanks Jana, but the translation of "Es hat gegeben" - "Ha habido" sound very odd in spanish :)
    Saludos!
    Ceratainly not more odd than "es gab". :) Moreover, Spanish is no exception. ;)

    Jana
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    There's certainly not only one way of expressing "there is"/"there are" in German. Consider the very first sentence of many fairy tales:

    "Once upon a time there was/were ..."
    "Es war/waren einmal ..."

    It is even possible to translate "there is/are" as "dort ist/sind".

    Hey, look over there. I guess there are some shops down the street.
    Hey, sieh mal dort. Ich glaube, dort die Straße runter sind (but actually better: gibt es) ein paar Läden.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Yes, Daniel, of course there are alternative expressions ("es befindet sich," "es ist...zu finden," etc.). However, the original question was about whether "wenn getanzt wird" could properly be considered one of those alternatives. I argue that it cannot; the emphasis there is on the action and not on the "existence" of the dancing. It is just that English allows the "there is" translation because it sounds more idiomatic.
     

    deadimp

    Member
    English - USA
    Ah, I get it now.
    Thanks for the help!

    Obwohl, ich habe eine mehr Frage:
    Why is there no subject-pronoun "es" when using "Wenn getanzt wird..."? I thought that German wasn't really able to do that... (being able to 'skip' stating the subject when conjugated, like in Spanish)
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    deadimp said:
    Ah, I get it now.
    Thanks for the help!

    Obwohl, ich habe eine mehr Frage:
    Why is there no subject-pronoun "es" when using "Wenn getanzt wird..."? I thought that German wasn't really able to do that... (being able to 'skip' stating the subject when conjugated, like in Spanish)
    As mentioned previously, this is a special construction. Your best bet is just to learn it by heart. :)

    Your question is very intelligent though, and I'm glad you asked it. Wenn an etwas gezweifelt wird, sollte danach gefragt werden. ;)
     

    Katja

    New Member
    Germany
    Wenn der Nebensatz an erster Stelle steht, fällt es weg:

    Wenn getanzt wird, kann sich niemand mehr auf den Stühlen halten.
    aber
    Es kann sich niemand mehr auf den Stühlen halten, wenn getanzt wird.
     

    DaleC

    Senior Member
    deadimp said:
    Why is there no subject-pronoun "es" when using "Wenn getanzt wird..."? I thought that German wasn't really able to do that... (being able to 'skip' stating the subject when conjugated, like in Spanish)
    In German and English, you can't omit the subject regularly and as the default practice, as is done in Spanish. But the thing is, German has a few constructions that are inherently subjectless, such as this one. This is one of the "impersonal" constructions.

    And in German and English you can omit subjects in an intimate monolog or conversation.
     
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