This is a question I hear a lot from children when I teach at schools. But often adults don’t know either.
They know how to spell words and how to pronounce things, but when asked what these words are they don’t know, which led me to understand that they would not understand grammar either.
When I teach German grammar it is important to know what nouns, verbs, adjectives are ……… or is it?
Well, you could learn German without grammar, but it will be a lot more difficult, as grammar will give you the necessary shortcuts.
It’s a bit like driving a car. You can drive your car even if you don’t know how to change a tyre, but if you get a puncture you’ll need to wait for help which can take a long time. Had you known how to change a tyre, it would have been a lot quicker before you could continue your journey.
So, in order to understand that nouns are always spelt with a capital letter in German you need to know what a noun is.
Chambers Dictionary says it’s a word used as the name of a person, animal, thing, place or quality, or a collection of these.
Or to put it easier: any word which can have a ‘the’ in front if it.
In English we start words with a capital letter if they are a name or at the beginning of the sentence. In German this also includes any word with gender.
The fun of course is, that ‘the’ in German can be ‘der’ ‘die’ or ‘das’ but I leave that fun for another blog 😉
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’m ashamed to say I don’ know how to change a tyre 🙁