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The German Language Series: Part IV- Definite Vs. Indefinite Articles

Updated on September 29, 2011

Definite and Indefinite Articles Defined


Used as the subject of the sentence, known as nominative case form, German nouns are generally accompanied either by the definite article der (masculine), die (feminine), or das (neuter). No matter the variation, the article translates as the.

Nouns that indicate something non-specific, or indefinite, in the nominative case are preceded either by ein (masculine), eine (feminine), or ein (neuter). Each of these articles stands for a, or an.


Examples

What follows are examples both definite and indefinite articles in each gender form:

Singular Masculine:

· Der Mann (the man)

· Ein Mann (a man)

Singular Feminine:

· Die Frau (the woman)

· Eine Frau (a woman)

Singular Neuter:

· Das Kind (the child)

· Ein Kind (a child)



Exceptions

Definite articles are used far more in German than in English. Here follow but a few examples of such instances, in which English lacks the presence of an article:

· Abstract concepts such a nature in English (e.g. die Natur).

· Generalized meanings, such as health (e.g. die Gesundheit).

· Dates, as in September 22nd (e.g. der 22. September).

· Proper names when identified by an adjective, as in little girl (e.g. das kleine Mädchen).

Indefinite articles are often omitted in certain instances, such as when referring to the body and when used in conjunction with the verb “sein”.

· I have a headache (e.g. Ich habe Kopfweh.)

· You are an American. (e.g. Sie sind Amerikaner.)



Books to Assist in Learning German Grammar

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    • Lilith Eden profile image
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      Lilith Eden 6 years ago from Memphis, TN

      My pleasure, kschimmel!

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 6 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      Another great hub--thanks!