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German Articles – Summary
Articles always come with nouns and normally they are put right in front of them. They indicate the gender of the noun (Genus), its number (Numerus) and its case (Kasus). Depending on these factors, the ending of the articles changes. There are two types of articles, definite and indefinite ones.
Definite articles (der, die, das) are mostly used for known people or objects. In their plural forms, definite articles no longer mark gender.
- Example: “Die Katze klettert auf den Baum vor dem Haus.”
- Example: “Die Katzen klettern auf die Bäume vor den Häusern.”
Indefinite articles are normally used for people or objects that are not known (yet). A plural form of indefinite articles does not exist, and the indefinite nouns simply occur without any article. In addition, there is another form, the negation (“kein”).
- Example: “Eine Katze klettert auf einen Baum.”
German articles are often seen as one of the most horrifying parts of German grammar. But you will see that it is not impossible to dominate them if you dedicate some time to the system. In the following, we’d like to give some basic explanations 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 distinguish between definite and indefinite articles, as you also do in English.
- German articles vary, depending on the gender (masculine, feminine and neuter), 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 the following have only one equivalent in English: “the”.
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 have to adapt them according to other cases like genitive, dative and accusative:
Here are some examples:
“Der Mann ist alt.” – The man is old.
“Ich sehe das Auto des Mannes.” – I see the car of the man.
“Ich gebe dem Mann ein Brot.” – I give bread to the man.
“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 with the case. Yes, it’s confusing, but with some practice you will get into it soon.
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 indefinite German articles 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.
Here you can see the basic indefinite articles used in German. All of them have a zero plural form.
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 “ein”. As you can see in the first example, the article is the same although one is masculine (der Mann) and the other is neuter (ein Geschäft).
Unfortunately, indefinite German articles also adapt their form depending on the case. Just take a look at the following table:
And again, let’s use these forms for some examples:
“Ein Mann ist alt.” – A man is old.
“Ich sehe das Auto eines Mannes.” – I see the car of a man.
“Ich gebe einem Mann ein Brot.” – I give bread to a man.
“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 Neuter? 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 of an article or its noun are completely random. But here are some good news: Luckily, there are certain rules that determine whether an article or its 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 take a look at the following guidelines:
First, words ending in -or, -ling, -smus, or -ig, have nearly always the masculine article “der”.
Examples: der Rotor (the rotor), der Liebling (the favorite), der Egoismus (the egotism), der Honig (the honey)
Second, words ending in -ung, -keit, -schaft, –tät, -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 declension), die Schönheit (the beauty) and die Schreinerei (the carpentry)
Third, words ending in -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
Das Geheimnis um deutsche Artikel zu lernen
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 – regard them as a unit. 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.