The Ultimate Guide to Der, Die and Das


Like many things Germanic, this used to happen in Old English. The grammar of modern German is similar to Old English (including gender for nouns!). But in modern English, there is no inflection of adjectives. You can confirm this if you look at the English versions of the previous two sentences about the gray house.

  • Read here for examples, exceptions, and a longer list of other suffixes that are mostly (60-90%) one gender over the others.
  • Savelearning the dative and genitive cases for when you have the nominative and accusative down pat.
  • When you work somewhere, because time passes, you’d talk about it in the Dativ case.
  • This is also a good example for impressing upon English-speakers the importance of learning the gender of nouns in German.

Benny believes the best approach to language learning is to speak from day one. Replace the nominative masculine der, and both instances of das, with ein. Can you see how each entry in this chart is exactly the same as the equivalent entry for “ein”, except with an extra “m” in front? Unlike “ein” or “eine” in German, there’s no reason why mein can’t be used with a plural noun, like meine Hunde (“my dogs”). Some verbs in English and German can be either transitive or intransitive, but the key is to remember that if you have a direct object, you’ll have the accusative case in German. On the other hand, if you do this with an intransitive verb, such as „to sleep,” „to die” or „to wait,” no direct object is needed.

German Adjective Endings for the Accusative Case

Remember, we have the one variety (my, your, our, etc.) that comes in front of nouns and the other (mine, yours, ours, etc.) that stands alone. Remember instead that all of these words are simply determiners (that, of course, each have their own distinct meanings of the, a, this, my, etc.). With this much information, you know that you need the das, dem, or des version of the neuter ‘the’. Some people use the same term ‘articles’ to refer to other words come in front of nouns (e.g. this, that, some, all, etc.). Fun-loving Irish guy, full-time globe trotter and international bestselling author.

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As you continue your studies, you’ll also be introduced to the dative case, which is applied to indirect objects, as well as the genitive case, which is used to express possession. Savelearning the dative and genitive cases for when you have the nominative and accusative down pat. Below, you’ll learn why it’s handier to memorize the definite article as opposed to the indefinite article. The gender of a noun is one of the determining factors in deciding which definite and indefinite articles are appropriate for a sentence. One easy aspect of German nouns is the article used for noun plurals. All German nouns, regardless of gender, become die in the nominative and accusative plural.

Instead of spelling out the der die das (and other ways of saying ‘the’), we can boil things down to their essentials. BUT there are still patterns behind whether the noun you’re learning is paired with a der , die , or das . Pronouns and possessive articles This exercise includes the above mnemonic hints to help you learn these words; where there is such a hint, you can click on “Hilfe” to see it.

German declension of Chart?

You do not have to learn ALL the genders of ALL the nouns by heart – there are shortcuts. Declensions follow two standard patterns, and then there’s a 3rd exception pattern that occurs in just 3 instances when specifically an ein-word determiner is used. Since German nouns also have gender, this feature also has to be taken into account when figuring out the right declensions to use in each situation. But when it’s simply a matter of picking the right declension for your determiner (so, we’re saving the discussion on adjectives for another day), then the process is extra easy.


And as long as I can do that, they are doing awesome. Instead of attempting to memorize those 10 charts (up to 160 words!!!), you can learn smarter, not harder by memorizing just the declensions themselves. Generally, when a masculine or neutral noun is genitive you also need to add -s or -es on the end, e.g. der Hund becomes des Hundes.

What’s important is to embrace this aspect of language learning and to not get frustrated about making the same mistake a million times. 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. 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.

As we saw earlier , an adjective that precedes a noun must have an ending–at least an -e. Also, notice that the endings shown here in the ACCUSATIVE case are identical to those in the NOMINATIVE case — with the sole exception of themasculinegender (der/den). The masculine gender is the only one that looks any different when the case changes from nominative to accusative . But if you want native German speakers to enjoy interacting with you , then I would suggest getting a handle on der die das, which is partially about noun gender.

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The following chart shows the adjective endings for theaccusativecase with definite articles and the indefinite articles . The following chart shows the adjective endings for thenominativecase with the definite articles and the indefinite articles . As per one of our tips listed above, we’re only going to focus on the nominative and accusative cases, as they will cover many of the sentences that beginning learners will use.

Many German learners find the DATIVE case to be intimidating, but when it comes to adjective endings in the dative, it couldn’t be more simple. And this simple rule applies to adjectives used with either the definite or indefinite articles (andein-words). This table provides a simple overview of the declension of definite and indefinite articles the nominative, accusative, dative and genitive cases in German grammar.

german articles

When the adjective is used with anein-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 -escorrespond to the articlesden,die, anddasrespectively (masc., fem., and neuter). Once you notice the parallel and the agreement of the lettersn,e,swithden,die,das, it makes the process a little clearer.

How English Pronouns Can Help You Remember German Articles (and Visa Versa)

We’ve got to put on words such as this, that, some, many, etc. In fact, we need to put declensions on some additional words, too (and we’ll cover that!). The meaning of both of these sentences is still that the man owes the woman (and before you think ‘der Frau’ was a typo, read my Dative Case Guide; otherwise, just trust me for now!).

But you’ll also see the terms determiners, pronouns, and even adjectives coming up in discussion, with all the lines of definition between them very frustratingly blurred. See here for a comprehensive guide to remembering noun genders in German. Since English articles do not change depending on their position in the sentence, the language relies on word order to clarify which term is the subject and which is the object. For native English speakers, one of the most challenging aspects of learning German, at least initially, can be the fact that each noun, pronoun, and article has four cases. Not only does every noun have a gender, but that gender also has four different variations, depending on where it lands in a sentence. Note that the nominative case weak declensions are all the same for singular nouns (plurals here are the oddball with a weak -n declension).

If a word ends with -or, -ling, -smusor -ig,it always has the masculinederarticle, like the words der Motor, der Feigling,der Journalismus andder Honig , respectively. I’ve even heard of truly dedicated German learners posting sticky notes all over their homes, labeling every individual object with its German name. I gave you a good list of der-words above (and there are more!), but let’s look at the common jed- now and pair it with Teller still. Click for a complete discussion of this chart detail in my guide on declensions. For the full chart and how to use it, read my guide on declensions. Only ein-words only in these 3 spots behave differently by taking no declension.

The high beta dictionary definition 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. German nouns belong either to the gender masculine with the definite article der, to the feminine with the definite article die, or to the neuter with the definite article das. 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.

The nominative case—in both German and in English—is the subject of a sentence. The term nominative comes from Latin and means to name (think of „nominate”). Amusingly, der Werfall translates literally as „the who case.”

This site gives ample examples alongside its definitions and even has discussion pages where you can ask native speakers for help when you aren’t sure about the best way to say something. So why does the indefinite article chart have a “plural” column? Well, the entries in this column aren’t real articles.

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The table below displays a list of the most common preposition and article contractions. Picking out the correct form of ‘the’ to use at the right time is a matter of knowing the gender & case of the noun. What you need to know to start getting the hang of der die das. In German, the definite article is much more important than it is in English. An English-speaker might say „nature is wonderful.” In German, the article would also be included to say „die natur ist wunderschön.”

Die is how to say ‘the’ in front of both feminine singular nouns … and all plurals nouns! Up until now, all the examples of determiners we’ve worked with have been der-words. Other parts of speech used as nouns (gerunds, colors, languages, English -ing forms). Memorizing categories of nouns that have a particular gender is obviously a big time-saver over memorizing each individual noun. The nominative case is used when the noun is the subject of the sentence, or the person or thing that does the action. With that in mind, below is a simple and effective guide to figuring out when you should use ein, eine and einen.

The other element that decides the article of a noun is the part of the sentence that the noun represents . Is the noun the subject of the sentence and the person or thing that does the action? These questions are important in determining the noun’s case, the other component that decides its article. I learned more about gender, articles and nouns from this article than I had learned from several other sources. ” (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.

Each grammar topic comes with one free exercise where you can review the basics, as well as many more Lingolia Plus exercises where you can practise according to your level. Check your understanding by hovering over the info bubbles for simple explanations and handy tips. The world would be an easier place if all languages had the same grammar rules and shared similar structures and it was simply a matter of switching vocabulary between them. In addition, there are certain prepositions that always take the accusative. Some of the most important of these includefür , durch , bis , um , ohne , entlang andgegen . Notice that in each of the examples, the subjects—a frog, a woman and a book—are the “doers” of the sentence.