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The German Articles-No Problem

Updated on November 2, 2012

Results from my Article-Class at my School

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Test 1-Before the seminar with old techniques Test 2-After  with memory-techniques Note: The results are for the 75%-technique that is not shown in this hub. I just wanted to show the possible improvement with the correct technique at hand.Sorry for the messed up math ;)Course from March, 20th, 2012
Test 1-Before the seminar with old techniques Test 2-After  with memory-techniques Note: The results are for the 75%-technique that is not shown in this hub. I just wanted to show the possible improvement with the correct technique at hand.
Test 1-Before the seminar with old techniques Test 2-After with memory-techniques Note: The results are for the 75%-technique that is not shown in this hub. I just wanted to show the possible improvement with the correct technique at hand. | Source
Sorry for the messed up math ;)
Sorry for the messed up math ;)
Course from March, 20th, 2012
Course from March, 20th, 2012

Quite a few German nouns carry a signal that gives away the article. Here's a way to memorize them efficiently so that you can recall them in an instant instead of having to think and slow down.

There have been many posts about the endings that give away the German article. There are thematic signals [like alcoholic beverages, month, cars and seasons using "der"] as well but only few of those are necessary to learn. The question is how to learn them that well, so that you will have them at hand whenever you need to? Test yourself: write down or say out loud all signals for the "die"-article. Go...If it took you more than 3 seconds (in words: three) you might still have "learning potential". To be able to use grammar rules or information like this it is absolutely necessary to know them by heart and to be able to recall them instantly. Otherwise they will slow you down and make speaking fluent German impossible. So the first question is, which signals are there and second question, how do you get them into your head without dying from exhaustion or boredom?

The most common (!) signals are:

der: ig, ling, or, ismus, er
das: tum, chen, ma, ment, lein
die: heit, ung, keit, ei, schaft, ion, (i)tät, ik, e

You might remember from an earlier hub of mine that we all have trouble remembering new abstract stuff and there are only few things that are more abstract than a set of word-endings like the ones above. So we will have to deal with this problem creatively. You don't learn them separately but combine them so they build a new word. Still abstract but now only one abstract word against five to nine abstract (word)endings. These new words are:

der Ig.ling.or.ismus.er
das Tum.chen.ma.ment.um.lein
die Heit.ung.keit.ei.schaft.ion.ität.ik.e

There are more endings out there telling you the appropriate article and there might be exceptions from some of the above signals ["-e" for example is a bit unreliable but still "die" is the best guess and "-er" as well only most of the times signals a "der"]. If you see how the "technique" here works you can easily create new mnemo-words yourself and perfectionize your article skills.
I teach these in a special class at my school in Berlin and get very beautiful feedback. Actually, I've learned the endings like this myself. Ask your German teacher if he could tell you all the signals for "die" and stop the time she or he needs to finish. With a little practise you will need no more than a few seconds to recall all three groups. Let me know if it worked for you.

For the thematic signals just check out the other hubs by vox vocis or kimagpayo. They have done a pretty good job already and I do not really have anything to add. The only problem is, that these signals only cover about let's say 25% of the German nouns out there. For the other 75% you will still need to learn each individual article. But there is a trick to that as well which I teach in my speed learning seminars.

More articles about better German learning can be found here .

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    • denkmuskel profile image
      Author

      Michael Schmitz 5 years ago from Berlin

      Thank you alocsin. I wished too that I had this at hand at the beginning of my career ;)

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      This is quite useful to the German student. I wish this hub was available when I was learning the language. It would have made learning the genders of words easier. Voting this Up and Useful.