This chapter deals with the German articles in general and additionally with difference between definite and indefinite articles. Then you will learn the articles in connection with prepositons and when you do not use any articles in German.
Articles always accompany and always stand before nouns. In German there are two types of articles: definite and indefinite articles. They help you to identify and determine gender (masculine, feminine, neuter), number (singular, plural) and cases (normative, accusative, dative, genitive).
In this chart you can find the definite and indefinite articles defined by gender.
|Gender||Definite Arcitles||Indefinite Articles|
The definite articles der, die, das are translated as the in English. The indefinite articles ein, eine are translated as a or an.
It is important to distinguish when to use definite and when to use indefinite articles.
The following table describes when you have to use the definite articles.
|Usage of definite Articles (der, die, das - the)||Example||Translation|
|When we are talking about something specific|
Der Hund bellt laut.
Die Dame überquert die Straße.
The dogs barks loudly.
The lady crosses the street.
|When something has already been mentioned or you assume it to be generally known|
Das Kolloseum in Rom ist atemberaubend.
Das Mädchen schreibt einen Brief.
The Colosseum in Rom is breathtaking.
The girl writes a letter.
This table describes when you have to use indefinite articles.
|Usage of indefinite articles (ein, eine- a or an)||Example||Translation|
|When we are talking about something that is not specially defined.|
Peter is ein Eis.
Ich ziehe einen Mantel an.
Peter eats an ice-cream.
I put on a coat.
|When we we mention something for the first time or assume it not to be generally known.|
Ein Pferd ist ein Säugetier.
Maria hat einen Bruder.
A horse is a mammal.
Maria has a brother.
In some cases specific articles and prepostions are contracted. The articles that usually merge with prepostions are in the accusative or the dative case. This table below shows the most common contractions.
|Preposition||Preposition + Article||Example||Translation|
|an||an + dem = am||Max steht am Bahnhof||Max is standing at the station.|
|bei||bei + dem = beim||Beim Lesen hat er die Zeit vergessen.||While reading, he forgot the time.|
|in||in + dem = im|
in + das = ins
|Ich bin im Schwimmbad. |
Kommst du auch ins Schwimmbad?
|I'm at the swimming pool. Do you also come to the swimming pool?|
|von||von + dem = vom||Ich komme gerade vom Theater.||I have just come from the theater.|
|zu||zu + dem = zum|
zu + der = zur
Maria muss zum Arzt gehen.
|Maria has to go to the doctor.|
I'm going to the door.
There are certain situations in which the German language doesn't use articles. You can find these exceptions in this table below.
|1. Place names|
Ich wohne in Hamburg.
In London regnet es.
I live in Hamburg.
It rains in London.
|2. Most of the country names|
Ich mache Urlaub in Norwegen.
Island ist eine schöne Insel.
In der Schweiz gibt es viele Berge.
I'm going on holiday to Norway.
Iceland is a beautiful island.
In switzerland there a many mountains.
|3. Title (in newspapers,...)|
Grünflächen wurden geschaffen
Städte fassen gemeinsam einen Beschluss
Green spaces werde created
Cities jointly take a decision
|4. Indefinite article in plural|
Dort stehen Stühle.
Jungs spielen gerne Fußball.
There are chairs.
Boys like to play soccer.
|5. Certain concrete skills|
Laura spielt Klavier.
Meine Mutter spielt Tennis.
Laura plays the piano.
My mother plays tennis.
|6. Creating lists|
Packliste: Zahnbürste, Schlafsack
|Packing list: toothbrush, sleeping bag|
|7. Equate with the verb werden or sein|
Mein Bruder ist Lehrer.
Ich werde Arzt.
My brother is a teacher.
I am going to be a doctor.
Wir müssen noch Milch kaufen.
Benzin wird knapp.
We still have to buy milk.
Gasoline is scarce.
In order to deepen the knowledge of the German articles, you can do the exercise on the following pages.
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I'm a German language teacher with a Master's degree in German language and literature. Since I was born and lived in Switzerland and grew up in a bilingual family, I speak also Swiss German and Croatian on a native level.
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