Heute treff ich einen Herr(n)?

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by Filologuísima!!, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. Filologuísima!! Member

    Madrid, Spain
    Spanish girl
    Hi!! I was listening a Rammstein's song and that sentence came up. I'm conscious that it must be a pretty basic question, but I really can't understand why "Herrn" has an "n" at the end, why is it not Heute treff ich einen Herr?
    Many many thanks for your time & attention.
  2. Robocop Senior Member

    Central Switzerland
    (Swiss) German
    "Herrn" is accusative. Ich treffe wen? Ich treffe einen Herrn.
  3. Jo1234 Member

    Tasmania, Australia
    Australian English
    Also it's an 'N-noun' (or whatever you choose to call it). Some masculine nouns (usually professions and such - e.g. Student, but also some others such as Herr, Herz, Name) always have an 'n' on the end except for in the nominative singular. 'Herrn' is an irregularity though, in that it doesn't have an 'e' before the 'n' in the singular. So 'Herr' is only in the nominative singular, 'Herrn' is the singular of all the other cases, and 'Herren' is the plural for all of the cases.
  4. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Not quite. You will not get wrong results if you use it this way. But you can misunderstand the other one. *)

    "Herrn" is a form with an omitted "e". To omit the "e" in this position is done very often in the modern German language. In many cases you can use both forms. The form with "e" sounds more poetic and ancient.

    So there is a duplication of the declination table:

    der Herr
    des Herrn/des Herren
    dem Herrn/dem Herren
    den Herrn/den Herren

    die Herrn/die Herren
    der Herrn/der Herren
    den Herrn/den Herren
    die Herrn/die Herren

    As you see the articles make clear what is meant.

    In the old meaning "Herr"="ruler" the "e" is much more often kept than in "Herr"="man". But this is independent on declination.

    In spoken language "r" in "Herren" is usually rolled while in "Herrn" it is vocalized.

    It is similar to English in this way:
    There are two forms:
    You can say "I am" but also "I'm" without changing the meaning but changing the stress and or style.


    In case when "Herr" is connected with a name, only the short form is used in our time:
    Heute treffen ich Herrn Meyer. (Are there any regional exceptions?)

    This is not the case if there are more than one:
    Heute treffe ich die Herren Müller und Meyer. (Seldom: die Herrn)

    This special case corresponds to the usage given by Jo1234.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  5. Filologuísima!! Member

    Madrid, Spain
    Spanish girl
    Thank youuuuuu!! :) You're excellent teachers, guys! ;)
  6. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    Not only in this special case. Jo's description reflects modern usage accurately: Nominative singular is "Herr", oblique singular "Herrn" and all plural forms "Herren". Of course, "Herrn" is historically but a contraction of "Herren" (flüchtiges "e") and both forms were once used in oblique singular and in plural but today the convention to use "Herrn" only for oblique singular and "Herren" only for plural is quite firmly established. According to Grimm this convention was introduced by Gottsched.
  7. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Ich denke, das ist nicht ebenfalls (nicht mehr?) allgemeingültig. Es hängt vom Zusammenhang ab.

    Zum Beispiel findet man sowohl "für den Herren" als auch "für die Herren" sehr oft. Ebenso findet man die verkürzten Formen. Sie werden nicht gleich häufig verwendet, aber es gibt keinen signifikanten Ausschluss eines der Wörter in Singular oder Plural.

    Es kann regionale und stilistische Unterschiede geben.

    Summary: as far as I see, all forms are used. The style and frequency is different. I tested it using the phrase "Für den/die Herrn/Herren".
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  8. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    I guess you are right. Taking your example, the form "für den Herrn" is preferred when meaning "for the LORD" and "für den Herren" when meaning "for the gentleman" though all combinations exist.

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