Now you need to learn about a 3rd type of articles called demonstratives or der-words, which are words such as every, this, that, many, etc. as in every mouse, this cat, that dog, many snakes. For example, if you want to say the book in German, you have to know that book (Buch) is a neuter noun. Not masculine or feminine (and plural would obviously be books, and that’s different). German articles are used similarly to the English articles,a and the. However, they are declined differently (change) according to the number, gender and case of their nouns. Once you’ve mastered using articles in the Dativ case, you can learn how to use Dativ pronouns in German.
- The good news is that all these charts have much more in common than not.
- The case of the noun is how we know what role in the sentence it’s playing.
- That means they will take strong declensions except in our 3 exceptions spots.
- The indirect object (dative) is usually the receiver of the direct object (accusative).
- Which means there are 4 different cases we need to choose between to find the right ‘slot’ for each noun in our sentence.
The adjective endings -er, -e, and -es correspond to the articles der, die, and das respectively (masc., fem., and neuter). Once you notice the parallel and the agreement of the letters r, e, s with der, die, das, it becomes less complicated than it may seem at first. The dative case is a vital element of communicating in German. In English, the dative case is known as the indirect object. Unlike the accusative, which only changes with the masculine gender, the dative changes in all genders and even in the plural. This means that learning both sets of German articles is easier than it might initially have looked.
Personally, I advocate for ditching the term articles altogether (read more below!). Instead, I refer to determiners AND pronouns AND adjectives all as very clearly different types of words. Note that the nominative case weak declensions are all the same for singular nouns (plurals here are the oddball with a weak -n declension). German pronouns also take on different forms in the various cases.
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That means that it’s possible to combine them all and just mention a handful of special exceptions. All our bases are covered and you’ve got a solid foundation in German that doesn’t involve 10 mind-numbing, overwhelming, unnecessary charts. Indefinite articles is “grammar-speak” for ‘a’ — all the different ways of saying ‘a’ in German. https://g-markets.net/helpful-articles/what-is-a-spread-trade/ You can see the in massive table that there are also many words that can function as either a plural determiner or as an adjective (in front of a plural noun). Then, remember that all weak declensions that are just -e won’t take an extra ‘e’. See how the All-In-One Chart helps you know exactly which declensions to put on.
- It’s not just some esoteric grammar point; it impacts whether people will understand your German (and whether you’ll understand them).
- In German, the definite article is much more important than it is in English.
- The adjective endings for the genitive case follow the same pattern as the dative.
- However, in the masculine and neuter, there is also an additional noun ending, either -es or -s.
As we saw earlier (Nominative), an adjective that precedes a noun must have an ending–at least an -e. The masculine gender is the only one that looks any different when the case changes from nominative (der) to accusative (den). The possessives that come in front of nouns could most accurately be called possessive determiners. That means they will take strong declensions except in our 3 exceptions spots.
Think of the three special instances on our Chart where there is a listed. BUT there are some clever shortcuts that can save you a lot of time. It’s missing crucial elements that tell us how the man, the child, and the woman relate to each other. When you work with the full All-In-One Declensions Chart (I’m sharing just the relevant portion with you in this article!), there are additional directions-for-use that go into it.
Der Die Das: Your Essential Guide
We can take the ideas of the declension rules & patterns and rephrase them a little so that they work as directions for how to use the All-In-One Declensions Chart. Then, if there is an adjective (or multiple), they take the strong declension. In the Digging Deeper section below, I will explain all the terms & concepts you need to know in order to use this All-In-One Chart to replace all 10 of those charts. Sometimes (but not always) you can translate the dative article as “to the” or “to a”. You must also use the dative after certain prepositions like mit (with) or aus (out). Add der/die/das to one of your lists below, or create a new one.
In his free time, he reads thriller fictions novels and sometimes explores his culinary skills. If Mann played any other role in the sentence, we would no longer use der in front of it (but rather den, dem or des). While the noun’s gender is pretty meaningless (but still has to be accounted for — rats!), the noun’s case is VERY important information. The following chart shows the personal pronouns in all four cases. Changes from the nominative (subject) case are indicated in bold.
Online exercises to improve your German
I gave you a good list of der-words above (and there are more!), but let’s look at the common jed- (every) now and pair it with Teller still. Here’s another example on how to use the determiner ‘the’ with the All-In-One chart. We can categorize German nouns according to group or form.
The following chart shows the adjective endings for the dative case (indirect object) with definite articles (der, dem, der) and the indefinite articles (einen, einem, einer, keinen). The adjective endings for the genitive case follow the same pattern as the dative. The following chart shows the adjective endings for the accusative case (direct object) with definite articles (der, dem, der) and the indefinite articles (einen, einem, einer, keinen). But, as you can see, there are similarities across genders and not all cases require different article forms. For example, the nominative/accusative cases for feminine and plural nouns are the same, and the same goes for the masculine and the neuter dative and genitive. The indefinite article (“a” or “an” in English) is ein or eine in German.
The feminine genitive (der/einer) is identical to the feminine dative. The one-word genitive article usually translates as two words (“of the” or “of a/an”) in English. The four German cases are the nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative. You can think of these as the equivalent of the subject, possessive, indirect object, and direct object in English. Like with anything in life, learning articles takes a lot of patience and time. There are no quick fixes and it will not come to you overnight, but gradually and with experience.
Again, if you know your noun’s gender & case and which declensions pattern you’re using, you will be able to pinpoint exactly which declension (strong / weak / none) you need. Another way to put it is that pattern #2 is simply pattern #1 shifted over one spot to the left! … But, again, only for ein-word determiners in 3 specific instances. All determiners — because they come in front of nouns as part of the noun phrase — need to have declensions. The only other type of word that needs declensions are adjectives, covered separately.
Expand your German vocabulary
We have to put a declension on words that come in front of nouns as part of the noun phrase. First, we’ll dive deeper into how the chart fits in with understanding declensions. In German, however, we don’t know which noun is in which ‘slot’ because of the word order. The case of the noun is how we know what role in the sentence it’s playing.
But there are a lot of German words, many of which do not have these endings. Unfortunately, knowing them is just a matter of memorizing the articles. The word “the” starts looking like the most beautiful, efficient word ever conceived once you start learning a new language—particularly German. Up until now, all the examples of determiners we’ve worked with have been der-words.
But even if you work really, really hard, study all the cases and endings, always write down the article when learning a new word, you will inevitably make mistakes. What’s important is to embrace this aspect of language learning and to not get frustrated about making the same mistake a million times. When the adjective is used with an ein-word (einen, dein, keine, etc.), the accusative adjective ending must reflect the gender and case of the noun that follows. The adjective endings -en, -e, and -es correspond to the articles den, die, and das respectively (masc., fem., and neuter). Once you notice the parallel and the agreement of the letters n, e, s with den, die, das, it makes the process a little clearer.
Often, the dative can be identified by adding a “to” in the translation, such as “the policeman gives the ticket to the driver.” Forget linking gender to a specific meaning or concept. It’s not the actual person, place, or thing that has gender in German, but the word that stands for the actual thing.
Do you see the one (of 3) exceptions spots at play here? We need to use just ein Teller, with no declension on the ein! But then in the rest of the spots, we’re back to our regular, strong declensions we always put on whatever determiner we’re using. And, of course, just as with the definite articles, you still have to learn how to know the gender and case of every noun in order to actually use the charts.
What’s an article?
That’s why a “car” can be either das auto (neuter) or der wagen (masculine). I wouldn’t go into walk up to this person and say “Entschuldigung, meinten Sie nicht DAS Mädchen? ” (although I might bring this up once the crisis was resolved ☺). It didn’t matter that they used the feminine article instead of the neuter, I could still understand what they were trying to say. Yes, you read that correctly – “the girl” in German is grammatically not feminine, but neuter (das Mädchen). You will find the reasoning behind this seemingly senseless and illogical feature of the German language in the following section.
Not only does every noun have a gender, but that gender also has four different variations, depending on where it lands in a sentence. Memorizing hundreds (if not thousands) of individual German nouns is enough work already — but to try making a random association between each one and either der, die or das? A key thing I struggled with in German was the use of die, der and das. I vaguely understand that one means masculine, one means feminine and the other means else(?). Unfortunately, the majority of nouns in German do not have a naturally occurring biological gender.
So for example, when you want to talk about “the dogs”, “the women” or “the boats” in the nominative case, the article is always die, even though these nouns all have different genders. (die Hunde, die Frauen, die Boote.) For the accusative, dative and genitive it’s die, den and der respectively. Der nette Mann is a masculine noun phrase in the nominative case, taking a strong declension on the determiner and a weak declension on the adjective as dictated by declension pattern #1. However, when the adjective is used with an ein-word (ein, dein, keine, etc.), the adjective must reflect the gender of the noun that follows.