Wann benutzt man "manche" wann "ein paar"

I had this question during one of my lessons and I just can’t find a good explanation anywhere.

In the exercise we were talking about lakes and my student wanted to say “there are some lakes and villages” so he said “es gibt manche Seen und Dörfer”.

But “manche” is obviously wrong in this sentence.
You would rather say “es gibt ein paar Seen und Dörfer”.

When I google this question I only find answers that translate “manche = some” but you cannot always translate “some” to “manche”

here are some examples:

Manche Menschen sind blond, manche sind braunhaarig = some people are blonde, some are brunette

Es gibt manche Menschen, die größer sind als andere = there are some people that are taller than others

Manche Flüsse sind kalt = some rivers are cold

Hier gibt es ein paar kostenlose Drinks = here are some drinks for free

Willst du ein paar Kekse? = do you want some cookies?

Hier gibt es ein paar Spinnen = here are some spiders

As you can see, you cannot always translate some to manche.

I feel like you could almost always change “manche” to “ein paar” or “einige” but not thee other way round.

Do you have any suggestions or rules how to learn this?

I don’t know if I’m missing something here, but I even asked some of my friends and Google and they also didn’t have a good explanation, so I’m really hoping to find some answers here :smiley:

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Hi @YasminY , very interesting question!

Jump to the end of the post for a quick explanation! :catbee:

At first, we have to keep in mind that if an English word has a very wide range of applications (like “some”), it is quite hard to explain why German has several words for (presumably) the same meaning. But the truth is, that “some” is a highly contextual word that has several definitions, and in this case, German uses a specific word for each definition (at least more or less).

Here are some translations for “some”:

adjective

  1. einige
  2. etwas
  3. ein paar
  4. manche
  5. irgendein
  6. ein bisschen
  7. ziemlich
  8. vielleicht ein

pronoun

  1. einige
  2. etwas
  3. manche
  4. irgendein
  5. was
  6. welche
  7. irgendwelcher

adverb

  1. etwas
  2. etwa
  3. ungefähr
  4. ein bisschen
  5. viel
  6. zirka

But it works the other way around, too! German has more than a few words that are plurivalent (mehrdeutig) as well - which brings us to “ein paar”. :wink:

  • Bier ist bitter. Manche Biere sind sogar sehr bitter. Und ein paar davon sind sogar ungenießbar.
  1. The first sentence describes the whole category (beer).
  2. The second one is saying something about some beers that are nevertheless significant in number.
  3. The third sentence states that a few beers of those are so bitter, they are basically not drinkable.

So if your student wants to say “there are some lakes and villages”, what he probably means is “there are a few lakes and villages”. In English, you can use “some” as a substitute for “a few”, or “a couple of”.

If you would use “manche” (or “manch”, the singular of this indefinite pronoun) in this context, it would mean that there are a considerable amount of lakes and villages there.

  • Dort gibt es so manch einen / manchen See und manch ein / manches Dorf.

This would sound quite old-fashioned though. Today it’s much more common to use “einige” instead, maybe even “viele” depending on the number.


Just tell me what it means! 🤷‍♀️

“Manches” means individuals or specimens that, together with others of their kind, form an indefinite but relatively significant group or multitude.

“Ein paar” means “a few”.

Hope that made sense! :v:

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