Mach dir keine Sorgen

RobertD50

Perhaps this is something that will be explained later, but in Lesson 6.1, in the sentence "Mach dir keine Sorgen," what is the subject?  My impression is that it is an implied "du," such that the literal translation would be "You make yourself no worries."  But if it is du, wouldn't it be "Machst dir keine Sorgen"?  Thanks.

Julia-Rocket-German-Tutor

Guten Tag RobertD50,

the sentence "Mach dir keine Sorgen." - "Don't worry." is using an imperative - a command. Imperative sentences take on different forms depending on who is being addressed. If you are addressing the second-person and using the informal "you" du (singular) or ihr (plural) the pronoun is omitted from the imperative.

"Komm her!" - "Come here!"
"Kommt her!" - "Come here (you guys)!"

So going back to the sentence above, you are absolutely right, the subject is du - "you"  in this case. Another translation would be "Don't you worry."

That being said, you might come across some cases where the pronoun is added for emphasis, like:
"Mach du dir mal keine Sorgen." - "Don't you worry."
However, this is more common in colloquial speech.

Please note that the pronoun is needed when using the formal imperative, for example:
"Machen Sie sich keine Sorgen." - "Don't worry." (formal)

There is also a lesson on this: 20.7 'Making Commands'

Tschüss!
Julia

 

RobertD50

Thanks, but that still leaves the question:  Since an implied "du" is the subject of this imperative, why isn't it "Machst dir keine Sorgen"?

Julia-Rocket-German-Tutor

Hi RobertD50,

In English, imperative forms remain the same no matter who you are addressing. In German however, they take on different forms depending on who is being addressed (du/ihr/wir/Sie). When using the informal du - “you” in an imperative the verb might take on an –e ending depending on which consonants precede it. This –e is often dropped in colloquial speech which only leaves you with the verb stem, for example:

"Mach es!" - "Do it!"
"Geh weg!" - "Go away!"
"Hol das!" - "Get that!"
"Mach die Tür zu!" - "Close the door!"
"Öffne die Tür!" - "Open the door!"
"Finde das Auto!" - "Find the car!"

I hope this helps.

Grüße
Julia

RobertD50

Thanks, I see what you're saying.  "Machst dir keine Sorgen" might be technically correct, but it would sound awkward & stiff to a native speaker?

I had to laugh a bit at the examples, because I've often thought about how German would be dramatically easier, yet still understandable to everyone, if you dropped the last syllable of many words.  No more ciphering gender/plurality/case as you try to say something; it would be more like a language & less like a code!  Alas, it is what it is.

A suggestion:  Trying to conscientiously absorb the grammar is obviously one of the biggest challenges here.  When examples are used that appear to contradict the rules we've been given to date, it makes it more difficult to internalize those rules.  You get frustrated & have to move on without understanding why your answer is wrong.  If you start doing that all the time, you're less likely to absorb the rules.

Colloquial examples that appear to disobey rules, or dative examples before dative has been introduced, are a couple scenarios where this happens.  But I do understand how hard it can be come up with appropriate examples, & the desire to include "real world" examples at all points in the course.  Perhaps it would be helpful to always think about whether an example appears to contradict a rule, & try to come up with an alternative that doesn't.  Or, if you need to use such an example, consistently explain the contradiction in the text or the "literal" bubble, as you sometimes do.

Regards,

Lamar

Julia-Rocket-German-Tutor

Hi RobertD50,

I can understand where you're coming from, "Machst dir keine Sorgen" would be incorrect to say though. You can say: "Du machst dir keine Sorgen.", but this would mean "You don't worry." instead of saying "Don't worry." as a command.

The rule which applies to most verbs when forming the imperative for du is to use the verb stem (drop en from the infinitive). Sometimes you have to add an -e depending on which consonants the verb stem ends with (such as "m/n" or "d/t"). There are also some other rules you will get to know over time. 

Our team always tries their best to achieve a good balance between what is being or has already been learned and authentic real world examples. Don't be discouraged! This will all get easier and make more sense over time. For now, keep in mind that there are imperatives out there but try to focus more on the grammar you are up to at the moment. The more you immerse yourself in the language the easier it will get.

Grüße
Julia

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