The woman is bitten by the cat

< Previous | Next >

ginlane

Member
English
Hi,

So as "Der Hund beißt den Mann" means "The dog bites the man" and
"Den Mann beißt der Hund" means "The man is bitten by the dog"
And that "Die Katze beißt die Frau" means "The cat bites the woman"
However, swapping it the other way around "Die Frau beißt die Katze" Does not mean "The woman is bitten by the cat" but instead means "The woman bites the cat." How then would you actually say "The woman is bitten by the cat"
Or is it that, because the first sentence uses masculine nouns this just gives us more opportunities to swap the elements around than is possible with feminine/neutral nouns?

kind regards Gin
 
  • Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    So as "Der Hund beißt den Mann" means "The dog bites the man" and
    "Den Mann beißt der Hund" means "The man is bitten by the dog"
    No, both mean the same "The dog bites the man". The nouns are case-marked by the article (der vs den), so you can tell who/what is subject and object.

    Something similar can be found in Shakespear's works: "Towards him I made, but he was 'ware of me".
    Of course it only works with the last remnants of the case system in English, i.e. personal pronouns.

    "Der Mann wird vom Hund gebissen" is the passive sentence "The man is bitten by the dog".

    And that "Die Katze beißt die Frau" means "The cat bites the woman"
    However, swapping it the other way around "Die Frau beißt die Katze" Does not mean "The woman is bitten by the cat" but instead means "The woman bites the cat." How then would you actually say "The woman is bitten by the cat"
    Yeah in case of female nouns it remains ambiguous who bites and who is bitten because both have the same article in the nominative and accusative. Only context helps then, or sticking to the more common/unmarked usage: subject at the beginning of the sentence.
     

    ginlane

    Member
    English
    Yeah in case of female nouns it remains ambiguous who bites and who is bitten because both have the same article in the nominative and accusative. Only context helps then, or sticking to the more common/unmarked usage: subject at the beginning of the sentence.
    Thank you Frank78, this is what I suspected, many thanks for clearing that up for me :)
     

    Ptolemy2.18

    Senior Member
    German - (West)Germany
    In spoken language you would resort to stressing certain parts of the sentence to differantiate by the way.
    Die Katze beißt die Frau = The woman bites the cat.
    Die Katze beißt die Frau = The cat bites the woman.
    That doesn't work if there are more animals in question of biting the woman, then the stress will indicate it was this exact cat. It really is confusing to be honest and it is the same with anything in plural:
    Die Männer jagen die Pferde.
    Maybe it helps to stick to the order: Who does whom, because that's way more common.
    Normally one would use Hutschi's approach to make things clear anyway.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top