×

4 Day Flash Sale
Get a huge 60% off
- limited time only

See Offer!

Average Rating: 4.7

9.4 Lost luggage

Yahya November 7, 2017, 7:32 am
Earlier in the same lesson I learned that matthias refered to (Koffer) as (er) given it is a masculine in (er ist nicht da) then sandra later refered to it as (ihn) in (Können sie ihn beschreiben). why haven't we remained consistent in the following sentence in the same lesson and begin the sentence with (Er) instead of (Es)????

            (Es ist ein großer schwarzer Koffer mit kleinen Rädern.)

thank you for your answer!
9.4 Lost luggage
sfpugh November 7, 2017, 9:32 am
That's an interesting question that hadn't occurred to me.

I think if the sentence had been "It is black" then it would have been "Er ist schwarz" my grammar book is pretty clear on that. But is also says that "es" can be "he, she or it" without further explanation.
According to Duden's proof reader, both "er" and "es" are grammatically correct.
https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibpruefung-online

I wonder if "es" is preferred because the suitcase appears on the other side of "ist"? Could it be that "Er ist ein Koffer" would mean "he is a suitcase"?

It will be interesting to see what the tutor has to say.
9.4 Lost luggage
sfpugh November 9, 2017, 7:55 am
Nothing from the tutor, so I asked my German friend and she said that she would definitely use "es" in the situation you described. However being a native speaker she couldn't say why, just that it sounds right.

Es ist ein großer schwarzer Koffer mit kleinen Rädern.
9.4 Lost luggage
Yahya November 9, 2017, 8:38 am
I appreciate the effort you've put in sir, I hope that the tutor's absence is due reasearching the matter. 
however such conclusion is unsatisfying, when should you start/stop refering to such object with es/er. I hope that future learning will make us pick up a pattern that helps us determine such thing.
let's just hope it is not an idiosyncrasy and there is a rule for such use of pronouns!
 
9.4 Lost luggage
sfpugh November 9, 2017, 11:21 am
I think the answer must lie in whether the subject is present or not.
If we have been talking about  a suitcase and then we want to say "it is black "
the we use the pronoun  "er"to replace suitcase so it is "er ist schwarz". The "er" tells us that we are referring back to something masculine. It could be anything masculine but the context implies that it is the suitcase.
But in the actual sentence "Es ist ein großer schwarzer Koffer mit kleinen Rädern."
the subject - the suitcase - is present  so there is no doubt what we are describing and we use "es" to refer forward to the subject.
Google translate (not that reliable) translates "Er ist ein großer schwarzer Koffer mit kleinen Rädern." as He is a big black suitcase with small wheels...Read More
I think the answer must lie in whether the subject is present or not.
If we have been talking about  a suitcase and then we want to say "it is black "
the we use the pronoun  "er"to replace suitcase so it is "er ist schwarz". The "er" tells us that we are referring back to something masculine. It could be anything masculine but the context implies that it is the suitcase.
But in the actual sentence "Es ist ein großer schwarzer Koffer mit kleinen Rädern."
the subject - the suitcase - is present  so there is no doubt what we are describing and we use "es" to refer forward to the subject.
Google translate (not that reliable) translates "Er ist ein großer schwarzer Koffer mit kleinen Rädern." as He is a big black suitcase with small wheels. It would sound very odd to say that.

Unfortunately my Collins easy German grammar doesn't go into an explanation of this particular situation. 


 
9.4 Lost luggage
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor November 9, 2017, 4:49 pm
Hi Yahya and sfpugh,

If you said:
"My suitcase is big and black and has little wheels" in German, then the word "my" would have to be "mein" in order to agree with the gender of the word "suitcase", so it would be Mein Koffer ist schwarz und gross und hat kleine Räder.

In German you could also say:
Er ist gross und schwarz und hat kleine Räder. The "er" is referring to the suitcase.

However, there are ways to structure a sentence that don't require you to indicate the gender with Er ist or Sie ist.

For example, if someone has just had a baby and you asked them about the gender, they will either say Es ist ein Junge or Es ist ein Mädchen. 
You could argue that it should be Er ist ein Junge or Sie ist ein Mädchen, but Es ist...Read More
Hi Yahya and sfpugh,

If you said:
"My suitcase is big and black and has little wheels" in German, then the word "my" would have to be "mein" in order to agree with the gender of the word "suitcase", so it would be Mein Koffer ist schwarz und gross und hat kleine Räder.

In German you could also say:
Er ist gross und schwarz und hat kleine Räder. The "er" is referring to the suitcase.

However, there are ways to structure a sentence that don't require you to indicate the gender with Er ist or Sie ist.

For example, if someone has just had a baby and you asked them about the gender, they will either say Es ist ein Junge or Es ist ein Mädchen
You could argue that it should be Er ist ein Junge or Sie ist ein Mädchen, but Es ist... is a set expression and can be used with either gender.

Hope this helps!

Lucia
9.4 Lost luggage
Yahya November 9, 2017, 5:27 pm
Is it safe to say, that in general we can use 'Es' to refer to inanimate subjects of either genders and keeping the gender consistent with animate subjects like humans, animals, etc.. ??
9.4 Lost luggage
sfpugh November 10, 2017, 11:01 am
Thanks for the explanation, so it comes down to one of those things where "it's just what people say".
 
9.4 Lost luggage
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor November 14, 2017, 8:03 pm
Hi Yahya,

Yes, in general expressions, such as the one above "es ist", indicating the gender is not required. This doesn't apply only to inanimate object though, because living beings are affected as well, like the baby example.

Lucia
9.4 Lost luggage

Ask a question or a post a response

If you want to ask a question or post a response you need to be a member.

  • If you are already a member login here.

  • If you are not a member you can become one by taking the free Rocket German trial here.

Over 1,200,000 people love Rocket Languages

Here's what Rocket Languages members have to say:

Andrei Freeman - Pennsylvania, USA

Andrei
Freeman

Pennsylvania, USA

Rudi Kopp - USA

Rudi
Kopp

USA

Carmen Franceschino - Pennsylvania, USA

Carmen
Franceschino

Pennsylvania, USA

Kelly Scali - Chicago, USA

Kelly
Scali

Chicago, USA

Mark Waddel - Auckland, NZ

Mark
Waddell

Auckland, NZ

William McGill - Florida, USA

William
McGill

Florida, USA

Probably the best language tool I've come across. Actually love it more than Rosetta Stone and Duolingo

Try our award-winning online German course for FREE 受賞歴ありの英語学習ソフトウェアを無料でお試しください Pruebe nuestro galardonado software del idioma inglés GRATIS

(And see how easy it actually is to learn German... even if you've tried and failed before) (そして英語学習がどれだけ簡単か、肌で感じてみてください…今までに失敗したことのある人でもそれが分かるでしょう) (Y vea qué tan fácil es en realidad aprender inglés… aún si lo ha intentado y fallado antes)