Tag Archives: songs

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!


DorFuchs- deutscher Musiker-Mathematiker: (AKA- How to multiply two digit numbers in your head!)

Image result for dorfuchs multiplizieren

(Image from YouTube)

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqWZGjskZUk

…And other cool videos. So, I was watching the videos of the awesome Vi Hart, one of my favourite mathematical YouTubers, the other day because I was late for Pi Day. (The link leads to Vi’s featured video Twelve Tones, about the musical constraint of using all twelve notes in a song.) Vi’s Pi Day videos are particularly interesting because usually they aren’t about celebrating Pi but its twice-multiplied, yet often-forgotten cousin, tau – more on which you can find in her videos.

Pi Day, for those of you who were unaware, is the 14th of March – because in the American calendar the number of the month (3, because March is the third month) is put in front of the day (the 14th) so 3(month)/14(day)/2017 – whereas in European calendars it is the other way around. (so Pi Day would be the 14th March, written as 14(day)/3(month/2017(year). And Vi Hart happens to be American, as well as the creator of Pi Day, Larry Shaw in San Francisco 1998. So they use the American calendar system. Which I guess is good for Pi, because there is no 14th month. It can have a whole day to itself.

Anyway -then I wondered if there were more mathematical YouTubers – and I came across DorFuchs. Like Vi, he is a ‘mathemusician’, who combines maths and music to teach people mathematical concepts.  After watching a few of DorFuchs’ videos I decided,’Tja, dieser Kerl gefallt mir’, and I went to see some more of his stuff! 🙂

One of DorFuch’s videos is a rap about multiplying two 2-digit numbers 11-19 in your head. At first I thought – ‘how?’ For example, how many people can answer this:

13 x 19 =

…in a few seconds  and completely ohne Tachenrechner – without a calculator?

Now watch DorFuchs’ video

Don’t worry, I’ll tell you what he just said.

So in the first few seconds, DorFuchs outlines the problem: Multiplying numbers is extremely useful, and multiplying one digit numbers such as 6×7 is super-easy. But multiplying 13 x19 for instance is so hard. But, he says ‘Lernen den folgene Trick’ – learn the following Trick – and  then you’ll probably be able to do it without a calculator! ‘Und dann schafft du dass veillicht sogar ohne Tachenrechner.’ (0:26)


Aber was ist das Trick?? DorFuchs singt es zu uns:


‘Nimm die erste Zahl, plus die letzte Ziffer von der zweiten.

Hang einer Null dran, und jetzt bist du bereit, denn

Wenn du das Produckt der letzten Ziffern addierst,

Dann bist du fertig und du werdest schneller wenn du das nochmal probierst.’-0:34

So I tried this out on a few numbers – of course I had to translate it first, just to check what DorFuchs was doing.

So: Nimm die erste Zahl, plus der lezten Ziffer von the imperative form of verbs. der zweiten.’ – Hmm, seems he’s using the Befehlsform or imperative forms of verbs – to tell us to do something. As mentioned here, the imperative is formed by taking the ‘stem’ of the verb’.

Nehemn – to take

Take the first number, plus the last digit from the second,

Hang a zero (0) next to it, and now you’re ready – then

When you add the product of the last units,

Then you’re finished – and you’ll be quicker when you try it again..


and so on.


Die Zahl – number     Der Ziffer-, digit

eine Null – a zero

das Produkt – product (the result of multiplying two numbers)

multiplizieren – to multiply

addieren -to add

probieren – to try

(notice ‘mal’ can mean both ‘again’, as in ‘Noch mal’ and ‘times’ as in 18 times 19 = 342)

As DorFuchs shows us, this trick always works with any number from 11 to 19.

13x 19, I hear you ask?


13 + 9 = 22 Nimm die erste Zahl, plus die letzen Ziffer von der zwieten

22 (*10)= 220  Hang eine null dran (bzw. mal zehn) und jetzt bist bu bereit, denn

+ (3×9=27) Wenn du das Produckt der letzen Ziffern addierst

220+27 = 247

Dan bist du fertig und du werdest schneller wenn du das immer mal trainierst.


(And just in case you want to check the answer, grab your Taschenrechner and check it out.)

Online Taschenrechner/Calculator


And at 1:06 – DorFuchs explains WHY it works.

‘Doch Achtung! – redet das Trick wirklich nur von Zahlen von elf bis neunzehn an?’ -1:14

an/reden – to speak of, to address.

Does the trick really only address numbers from eleven to nineteen? How can you change the song – aka the formula – to make it work for numbers from 21-29, or 31-39 or 71-79?  (That was an open question – comment away, those of you who are mathematically inclined. Meine Antwort befindet sich auf Englisch unten in den Kommentaren.)


‘Denn diesener gerade 10 plus irgendwie Ziffer von eins bis neun -okay.‘ – 1:18

Und wir rechnen ja jetzt – zehn plus a mal zehn plus b.‘ – 1:19

(10+a) * (10+b)

DorFuchs here makes the multiplication into a formula that can be true for all numbers from 11 to 19.

Any of these numbers is 10 (zehn) plus ‘irgendwie Ziffer’ – some digit from one to nine.

These unknown digits are called a und b (in English we pronounce it (Ay and Bee) – In German it’s pronounced (Ah und Beh) )

As ‘mal’ means ‘to times’ or ‘to multiply’, we are multiplying (10+a) x (10+b), so

(10 + (random number A)) mal (10+ (wahllosige Zahl B)).

1:23Das macht, wenn ich schon mal von Multiplizieren nichts übersehe,

(10*10 (+ (10*b) +(10*a) + (a*b)


DorFuchs comes to this conclusion by expanding die Klammern – like this

(10+a) *(10+b) = 10(10+b) + a(10+b)

(10(10+b) = (10*10) + (10*b)   – zehn mal zehn plus zehn mal b


a(10 *b) = 10*a + (a*b)  – zehn mal a plus a mal b  )


(10+a) *(10+b) = 10(10+b) + a(10+b)


(Da die Zehne den ersten drei so man aus Klammern geht,

Konnen wir machen unseren Trick als Formula steht!)




(10+a) *(10 +b) = 10x 10 + 10*a + 10*b + a*b


(10+a+b)*10 + a*b


Nimm die erste Zahl plus die letzte Ziffer von der zweiten

Hang eine Null dran (mal 10) und jetzt bist du bereitet

Wenn du das Produkt der letzten Ziffern addierst

Dann bist du fertig und du werdest schneller wenn du das noch mal probierst!


And… damit du kannst noch mal probieren…. DorFuchs made a whole video of other examples to try on his second channel, DuFrosch – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCdwcdCunD0

Danke schӧn DorFuchs, and I’ll definitely check out some more of your mathematical raps sometime!




Imperative forms: Because he’s telling us directly to do something, DorFuchs uses the imperative with verbs such as ‘Nimm’ and ‘Hang’ The imperative of ‘nehmen  is’nimm’ or ‘hangen’ to ‘Hang’.

Mathematical vocab: addieren – to add or – ‘plus’ +: but pronounced ‘P l UU s’ rather than English ‘p l uh ss’

multiplizieren – to multiply, or ‘mal’, to ‘times’, as in 6 times 7 = 42. Notice also ‘mal’ is used for times in other ways, such as ‘noch mal’ -I like to think of it as ‘still (another) time’

Die Zahl-(plural Die Zahlen) – number(s)

(And, just in case, eins(1), zwei(2), drei (3), vier(4), fuenf (5), sechs(6), sieben(7), acht(8), neun(9), zehn (10), elf, zwolf, dreizehn (13), vierzehn (14)… und so weiter…)

Der Ziffer – digit


(What does this have to do with PI Day? Check this out by DorFuchs- Pi ist irrational!

(I still don’t know why.)