One of the most common words in any language is “the.” In German, “ the” is not just one word. Rather there are a total of 3, depending on the gender of the noun to which each refers. The short defining word before the noun is really part of the noun. It is called an article.
Define it …. You may not have learned this at school, but in English the word “the” is called a definite article. That is because the word “the” points to a very specific thing. For example, you may tell someone, “I want the book,” assuming that they will bring you the book you have in mind.
Or not! However, if you tell them, “I want a book,” you will get whatever book they choose to hand you! That is because the words “a” or “an” or “some” are indefinite articles and point to a general group of items, things, people or places.
Resources for further reading:
Let’s get it straight: Nouns refer to a person, animal, thing or concept. All nouns in German are either masculine, feminine or neuter. The little word in front of the noun, the article, will tell you the gender. German Articles can be definite (specific) or indefinite (general).
Here are the German definite and indefinite articles:
- der - the (masculine)
- die - the (feminine)
- das - the (neuter)
- ein - a (masculine and neuter)
- eine - a (feminine)
Pronouncing German Articles
Here we go: The definite articles in German are "der", "die" and "das".
Der = masculine article, the, e.g. der Tisch (the table)
Die = feminine article, the, e.g. die Tasse (the cup)
Das = neuter article, the, e.g. das Kind (the child)
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The indefinite articles in German are “ein”, “eine” and “ein”.
ein = masculine article, the, e.g. ein Tisch (a table)
eine = feminine article, the, e.g. eine Tasse (a cup)
ein = neuter article, the, e.g. ein Kind (a child)
As mentioned previously, the article (“the”) before a noun in German is not only an integral part of the word, but is also a major clue to the gender of the word. In other words, as you learn new words, you should always be learning them with either a “der” in front, as in “der Tisch”, “the table”, a “die” in front, as in “die Tasse”, “the cup”, or a “das” in front, as in “das Kind”, “the child”. This will help you to understand the concept of gender as you build up your vocabulary.
Masculine Articles and Nouns
Feminine Articles and Nouns
Neuter Articles and Nouns
The days of the week, months and seasons are all masculine.
Here are a few recommended German lessons to try next!
- Wanting to create more complete sentences? You need to be able to use the German conjunctions.
- The German consonants are fairly easy to pronounce, you just need to remember the rules!
- Check out this lesson on the German dative.
Paul Weber: Rocket German
Make It Stick With Rocket Reinforcement
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