German Articles – Explanation, Tips and Tricks

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German articles are often seen as one of the most horrifying parts of German grammar. But you will see that it is nothing impossible to dominate, if you dedicate some time to them. In the following, I’d like to give to some basic explanation of German articles and also some useful tips for making German articles an easy thing for you! But first of all, let’s start with some basic information and structuring of german articles:

  • You can mainly differ between definite and indefinite articles, as you also do in English.
  • German articles vary, depending on the gender (masculine, feminine and neutral), the number (singular and plural) and the case (nominative, genitive, dative and accusative) of the noun they precede.

It is very important for you to know some basics of German grammar in order to understand the variations of the articles. Later in this text we will have to talk a lot about German cases. Just follow the link and language-easy.org will be glad to explain these parts of German grammar to you!

Well, now knowing some basics of German articles, let’s start right ahead with going into some details!

German Definite Articles:
Der, Die, Das and More!

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The definite articles in German are used when you want to talk about specific objects, dreams and people, etc. All the different forms of articles you will see in following have only one equivalent in English: “The”.

MasculineFeminineNeutralPlural
DerDieDasDie

Here you can see the basic articles used in German. All of them have the plural form “die”.

So, some examples:

  • Der Mann geht in das Geschäft.
    – The man goes into the shop
  • Die Frau denkt, dass die Schuhe schön sind.
    – The woman thinks that the shoes are pretty.

Be careful when using “die”. As you can see in our last example, the article is the same although one is plural and the other feminine singular.

Of course, German articles do not only apply in the nominative case, differing between masculine, feminine, singular and plural. You also habe to adapt them according to other cases like genitive, dative and accusative:

MasculineFeminineNeutralPlural
NominativeDerDieDasDie
GenitiveDesDerDesDer
DativeDemDerDemDen
AccusativeDenDieDasDie

Here are some examples:

  • Nominative:
    Der
     Mann ist alt – The man is old

  • Genitive:
    Ich sehe das Auto des Mannes – I see the car of the man

  • Dative:
    Ich gebe dem Mann ein Brot – I give a bread to the man
  • Accusative:
    Ich sehe den Mann – I see the man

It is important that you always remember the table from above! As you can see, German articles change every time the case changes. Yes, it’s confusing, but with some practice you will get into it soon.

German Articles

German Indefinite Articles:
Ein, Eine and More!

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Whereas the definite German articles refer to specific people, objects and so on, the undefinite German articel are used for unspecified people and things. You have the following articles: “Ein” and “Eine” which basically have the equivalent of “a” and “an” in English.

MasculineFeminineNeutralPlural
EinEineEinEine

Here you can see the basic indefinite articles used in German. All of them have the plural form “Eine”.

So, here are some examples:

  • Ein Mann geht in ein Geschäft.
    – A man goes into a shop
  • Eine Frau denkt, dass ein Schuh schön ist.
    – A woman thinks that a shoe is pretty.

Be careful when using “eine”. As you can see in our last example, the article is the same although one is plural and the other feminine singular.

Unfortunately, indefinite German articles also adapt it’s form depending on the case. Just have a look on the following table:

MasculineFeminineNeutralPlural
NominativeEinEineEinEine
GenitiveEinesEinerEinesEiner
DativeEinemEinerEinemEinen
AccusativeEinenEineEinEine

And again, let’s use these forms for some examples:

  • Nominative:
    Ein
     Mann ist alt – A man is old

  • Genitive:
    Ich sehe das Auto eines Mannes – I see the car of a man

  • Dative:
    Ich gebe einem Mann ein Brot – I give a bread to a man
  • Accusative:
    Ich sehe einen Mann – I see a man

As you can see, the same changes that happen to definite articles also happen to indefinite German articles. So, don’t be lazy and learn these tables by heart!

Masculine, Feminine or Neutral? Here are some Tricks for you!

Maskulin, Feminin oder Neutrum? Hier gibts ein paar Tricks für euch!

Well, it might seem to you that the gender an article or it’s noun have are completely random. But here is some good news: Luckily, there are certain rules that determine whether an article or it’s noun are masculine, feminine or neuter. Of course, there are exceptions, as you can find them in every language – don’t care too much and have a look on the following guidelines.

First, wordendings like -or, -ling, -smus or -ighave nearly every time the masculine article “der”.
Examples: Der Rotor (the rotor), der Liebling (the favorite), der Egoismus (the egotism), der Honig (the honey)

Second, wordendings like -ung-keit-schafttät-ik-tion-heit, -e or -ei have the feminine article “die”.
Examples: die Beleidigung (the insult), die Beständigkeit (the stability), die Kundschaft (the clientele), die Banalität (the banality), die Romantik (the romance), die Deklination (the declination), die Schönheit (the beauty) and die Schreinerei (the carpenter’s workshop)

Third, wordendings like  -chen-ma-um-ment-lein or -tum, have the neutral article “das”. Examples: das Mädchen (the girl), das Enigma (the enigma), das Judentum (the judaism), das Firmament (the firmament)

The Secret of Learning German Articles

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Well, after all these rather confusing forms of German articles it is important for you to realize that there is no easy way of dominating this topic. So, you just have to learn your nouns together with their articles – see them as one and the thing. Logically, they simply belong together.
And Remembering our tables and tricks, you will see that learning German articles will happen a lot faster than you think!

In the following you will see some phrases that you should complete with the correct terms. Once you have filled all the gaps, just click on the “correct” button and  you can see your errors and the correct results. Good luck and .. auf Wiedersehen!

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