hinten auf das Foto

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by Robert365, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. Robert365 New Member

    Guten Tag,

    ich habe eine Frage. Ist das richtig:

    Schreiben Sie Ihren Namen hinten auf das Foto.

    I read this in a German exercise book. This translates, I think, "Write your name on the back of the photo."

    If the German is correct, can someone tell me why it is "Namen" rather than "Name" since Name is akk. and is not plural (since it is formal Sie not plural sie). Also, why is it "hinten auf das Foto" rather than "hinten auf dem Foto?" Or is das Foto not dativ because hinten is an adverb? I'm probably over analyzing this, but thank you very much for any assistance.
  2. cuore romano

    cuore romano Senior Member

    Masculine nouns ending in -e have an -n in the accusative case: Name - Namen, Junge - Jungen etc.

    Wohin schreibt er den Namen? Auf das Foto. (acc. case)
    Wo steht der Name? Auf dem Foto. (dative case)
  3. Perseas Senior Member

    "Namen" is singular accusative.
    Here's the declension.

  4. Robert365 New Member

    Thanks for the quick reply. What about "das Foto" in the sentence? Should that be dem or den rather than das?
  5. Perseas Senior Member

    @ Robert365
    "Foto" is neuter, so "den Foto" is wrong.

    @ native speakers
    "hinter" takes dative or accusative. (WR dictionary).Would e.g. "hinter dem Foto" or "hinter das Foto" make any sense?
  6. cuore romano

    cuore romano Senior Member

    I put a candle behind the photo. - Ich stelle eine Kerze hinter das Foto. - wohin = Akk.
    There is a candle behind the photo - Eine Kerze steht hinter dem Foto. - wo = Dativ
  7. cuore romano

    cuore romano Senior Member

    # 2
  8. Darth Nihilus

    Darth Nihilus Senior Member

    Santa Catarina
    Brazilian Portuguese
    This is one of the reasons why Ausländer constantly muddle up the cases. I'd never ask myself "Wohin schreibt er den Namen", but "Wo" instead. Wohin simply doesn't make sense to me, as I see no movement, no destination whatsoever.
  9. Schimmelreiter

    Schimmelreiter Senior Member

    The question is intuitively asked a bit differently by German speakers:

    Wo schreibt er den Namen hin?, using the separable verb hinschreiben, with hin being a directive prefix.

    Hence, when asked to sign something, one might ask,

    Wo muss ich meinen Namen hinschreiben?

    I don't think a great many people would say,

    Wohin muss ich meinen Namen schreiben?
  10. Perseas Senior Member

    @ Schimmelreiter
    Isn't this what cuore romano has suggested? Do you mean that it isn't so common?
  11. Schimmelreiter

    Schimmelreiter Senior Member

    It's a typical "didactic" question: If I ask wohin, the answer must be in the accusative of direction. In the real world, Wo schreibt er den Namen hin? is much more common. Directiveness, requiring the accusative, doesn't get lost anyway since it's expressed by the prefix hin-. ​My post was in response to Darth saying
    In English, the question goes, Where's he writing the name?, so the way we teach our children to find out the appropriate case by asking Wohin? isn't necessarily helpful to learners of German as a second language. I wonder whether the idea of etwas irgendwo hinschreiben is any more helpful to them.

    Darth is wondering about there being no such thing as a destination.

    Er schreibt auf dem Foto.

    is about the kind of material he's doing the writing on. > dative

    Cf. Er schreibt (den Namen) auf das Foto. > accusative

    Now it's not only about the kind of material he's writing on but also about the writing getting onto the photo. And, voilà, now we do have a
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014
  12. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    It is a bit more complicated. This applies to the class of nouns called "weak". Most masculine nouns ending in -e belong to that group but not all. Counter example: N=der Käse, A=den Käse.
  13. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    I can understand that. The real problem why non-native speakers "muddle up the cases" is probably that, first, many of you are not conditioned to thinking speaking and understanding in cases, and second, people try to explain it to you in words, and that is not the way language works. Or rather the the workflow, conception of an idea or thought, via visualisation of a situation, then transfering this into language, then speaking or writing.

    Now if you visualize the action of writing something on a piece of material - paper, photograph, a wall, what do you see? Something that wasn't there, is there after youv'e finished the action.
    Now visualize somebody entering a building.
    ... and something being put into a box

    Vice versa, that is the kind of image that pops up in our heads when we hear an accusative. You put the "actors" on your imaginary stage based on word order, in your language. We also make something out of word order but basically its the cases that are important and puts things in their right place.

    I mean, it would be totally correct to say:

    Er schrieb seinen Namen hinter dem Photo.

    However, the image that pops up in somebody's head would be something like this: He walks behind a huge big photo - like a megaposter or exhibition c-print - and standing behind it he writes his name on something, which is not mentioned. That is because of the dative ...

    The real tricky part of learning German is less, learning all the cases. Anybody can memorize them. The tricky part is rather to switch off your native "placing the actors on the stage based on word order" and programming the "placing the actors on the stage based on cases" into your mind. Unfortunately very few teachers are really aware of this.

    True, but most of them can still be recognized by a certain pattern. Better to have a rule that covers more than 95%, than to have to memorize them all.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014
  14. Perseas Senior Member

    I think the problem lies on the fact that we are inclined to think in a foreign language the way we think in our mother tongue. For example: The interrogative adverb for both "Wohin schreibt er seinen Namen?" and "Wo steht der Name" is "wo"("πού") in Greek, which has also cases, albeit not the dative, and perhaps this is the reason why things become more difficult.
  15. ayuda?

    ayuda? Senior Member

    This should answer your question.
    http://www.vistawide.com/german/grammar/german_nouns03.htm [SeeàMost masculine -n nouns are easily identifiable…#1.)”

    I have also had it explained to me in this way:
    one-syllable masculine German nouns ending in –e add an –n in the Akk./Dat.and Gen. cases—any case other than the nominative.
    =There are the very, very,rare exceptions, as berndf stated [e.g., Käse].
    = And there is another small group of German masculine nouns ending in -e that requires an unusual –ns ending in the genitive case [ the 8 listed are here in the link below:]

    #2. on vistawide.com also explains how nouns with certain endings taken from Greek and some other foreign languages add –en to the masculine noun [-ant, -ent,- ist,etc.].
    #.3 lists some special one-syllable masculineGerman nouns that indicate male beings or animal that make similar changes along those lines in case: [der Bär/ den Bären or der Bauer/den Bauern,etc.]
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2014

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