Das doofe Fischlied (or, finally understanding German cases and word gender!)

I used to think that the hardest part of learning German is that there are three ways of saying ‘the’.

  • Masculine ‘der’, for example, der Mann -the man.
  • Feminine ‘die, for example, die Maus – the mouse
  • And neutral, ‘das’, for example, das Haus – the house.

And… actually there are four ways of saying ‘the’ if you add in the plural form:

  • Plural – die Freunde – the friends

And then there are accusative-case ways of saying all these four types of the word ‘the’, if you need to connect a verb or preposition that uses the accusative form. For example if you want to say, ‘I will advise the man’ because you have a lot of advice (der Rat) you want to give him, you’d say ‘Ich werde den Mann beraten).

Note the word magic happening as ‘der Mann’ changes to ‘den Mann’, a previous ‘r’ making way for a new letter ‘n’.

But how come?

And then there’s dative-case ways of saying ‘the’. For example, ‘Ich hilfe dem Mann beim (bei dem) Einkaufen’. More grammar magic as not only the masculine ‘der’ changes to ‘dem’… but the neutral ‘das’ as well? Even more grammar magic as ‘Ich hilfe der Frau’ and ‘Ich hilfe den Kindern’ start happening.

And genitive-case ways – even though genitive is relatively easy (and also, unfortunately, isn’t in this cool video I found.)

But do I find this hard anymore? Well, yeah, especially when I don’t know which case to actually use – I found a cool video from this website, angelikasgerman.co.uk that makes all this a whole lot easier!

(And also, shout out to my former German teacher, who used to sing the cases to us  before I found this other song – which by no means is better than your song, Mr. L. It’s… just different.)

Lyrics of Mr’s L’s song:

(Nominative) der die das die

(Accusative) den die das die

(Dativ) dem der dem den

(Genetiv) des der des der


But it’s great if there’s more than one way to remember something, so..

Here’s Das doofe Fischleid, written by Brad Yoder!

(And yes, that does mean ‘The Dumb Fish Song’ in English. It is kinda dumb, but kinda fun at the same time.)

NOM: der gute Mann
ein guter Mann
der gute Mann
ein guter Mann
(For the masculine nominative, the adjective ending -r is used where you need to use ‘ein’ – I think because the ‘r’ from der jumps over to the adjective. Good thing, otherwise you wouldn’t know which case the word is, and confuse it with ‘das’)

Zum Beispeil: ein guter Holzhacker – ein guter Programmer

AKK:Schlag den guten Mann nicht!
Schlag einen guten Mann nicht!
Schlag den guten Mann nicht!
(If used in accusative, the masculine word will then have -en’ at the end of its articles (der and ein) and at the end of the adjectives) –
Ich rufe den guten Holzhacker – Ich berate einen guten Mann

DAT: Gib dem guten Mann einen Fisch
Gib einem guten Mann einen Fisch

(I give TO a dative person, an accusative thing. (or, I give an accusative thing to a dative person, )
I think that because zu would take the dative, (Gib zu dem guten Mann einen Fisch,) you would just skip the word ‚zu‘.
Wir geben dem guten Mann den Fisch/die Katze/das Brot.
All these gifts would be in the accusative, but you can only see it with masculine words.

Onto neutral words now – das Haus!

Nom: Das schone Haus
Ein schones Haus
Das schone Haus
Ein schones Haus

(So, as you can see, the ending for all neutral ‘das’ words is ‘es’.
I think of it as the ‘das’ is trying to join onto the adjective when the ein is there, because otherwise you could get it confused with a masculine word. However, only the ‘s’ (or es’) joins at the end of an adjective.
Das schnelle Auto -Ein schnelles Auto
Das lange Wort – Ein langes Wort

Schlag das schone Haus nicht!
Schlag ein schones Haus nicht!
Schlag das schone Haus nicht!
(In the accusative, the neutral ‚das‘ endings don’t change, nor does the feminine die. Maybe because of them not changing, the adjective ‘schon’ stays the same as before as well.)

DATIV: Gib dem schonen Haus einen Tisch
Gib einem schonen Haus einen Tisch
(As you can see, the masculine and the neutral articles ‚der and ‚das‘ BOTH change to ‚dem‘.)
Also, any dative adjective will end in en.

Feminine: Die kleine Maus
Eine kleine Maus
Die kleine Maus
Eine kleine Maus

(Nominative feminine just has ‘e’ at the end. )

Schlag die kleine Maus nicht!
Schlag eine kleine Maus nicht!
Schlag die kleine Maus nicht!
(The akkusative feminine doesn’t change, unlike the masculine)

Die kleine Maus
Eine kleine Maus
Die kleine Maus
Eine kleine Maus
Schlag die kleine Maus nicht!

Gib der kleinen Maus einen Fisch!
Gib einer kleinen Maus einen Fisch!

Die guten Freunde
Meine guten Freunde
(The adjective ending here is ‚en‘ – for both th direct and indirect articles.)

Schlag die guten Freunde nicht!
Schlag meine guten Freunde nicht!
Schlag die guten Freunde nicht!
(The accusative of the plural doesn’t change its article. So I can say – ‚Ich rufe meine Freunde‘.) The only thing it does change is the adjective, adding an ‚en‘ – Ich rufe meine lustigen Fruende.

DATIV: Gib den guten Freunden einen Fisch
Gib meinen guten Freunden einen Fisch

(Dativ – It seems the dative is the only case that changes the plurals’ articles – to den and meinen.
It also changes the ending of the adjective- so you add ‘en’
The dative also changes the actual word’s end, for some words, for example den armen Kindern

Brad Yoder wrote the song, and at the time of writing is still active, writing songs in English.  Not sure whether he’s a German teacher, or just likes German, but whichever way, his song should help lots of people learn!

Viel Spass bei dem Lernen!


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