Important Grammar Tip - German Definite Articles

by Janet N.
(Portsmouth, UK)

The minute you start learning German, make sure you learn the 'definite article' of the place, object, event, idea - or whatever other noun you are talking about.

The 'definite article' in English is simply the word 'the'. In German there is more than one word for 'the' as in German the 'definite articles' all have genders.

So for example instead of just learning the word for 'table', learn the German for 'the table.'

the table - der Tisch (masculine noun)

the flower - die Blume (feminine noun)

the book - das Buch (neuter noun)

So, 'der' always goes before masculine nouns, 'die' before feminine nouns and 'das' before neuter nouns.

You can find the correct definite article in any German dictionary by looking up the noun.

(Please be aware though - just to complicate matters! - these can change again depending on which 'case' is being used - there are four cases in total in German!)

The 'definite' articles' I detailed above are those used in the 'nominative case' for these words - as you will find in dictionaries for example.

The 'definite articles' used in the 'nominative case' are the initial, most important ones to learn. So I would just concentrate on this at the moment if you are a complete beginnner.

Memorizing every single definite article is of course hard work, luckily, there are some rules indicating which noun might take which gender. I hope the following tips will help you on your way a little.

1. The woman is 'die Frau' (feminine) and the man is 'der Mann' (masculine). Female beings will usually take feminine nouns and male, masculine ones. But there are always exceptions to the rules as with all the following tips. The German word for 'girl' - Mädchen, for example, takes a neuter noun!

2. Feminine Nouns - Words ending with 'heit' (e.g. die Fahrenheit - fahrenheit), 'schaft' (e.g. die Freundschaft - friendship), 'keit' (e.g. die Freundlichkeit)

3. Masculine Nouns - Words ending with 'ling' (e.g. die Schmetterling - butterfly), 'ner' (e.g der Partner - partner / affiliate) 'ismus' (e.g. der Organismus - organism)

5. Neuter Nouns - Words ending with 'chen' (e.g. das Mädchen - girl), 'ment' (e.g. das Testament - will) , 'ett' (e.g. das Bett - bed)

Good luck everyone!

Comments for Important Grammar Tip - German Definite Articles

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May 26, 2011
Top Rating
by: Elisabeth Constantine

I give this tip 5 / 5!

May 02, 2011
Great First Tip!
by: Sarah - Site Owner

Hi Janet,

Thank you very much for your great grammar tip.
You are right, this really is very important.

If only I had realised the importance of this in the early days - it would have made life a lot of easier.

Thanks again for sharing!


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