der die dasder die das


In my experience with students who learn German, most of the struggles happen in the beginning when they start to learn the different articles.

Having different articles can be a rollercoaster ride, especially when you come from an English speaking country where nouns and their articles don't have a gender, and are just “the", "a” and “an”. 

But in this magical post you’ll get all the hints you need to learn the German articles correctly! So, set your Bratwurst aside and finish your beer, it’s time to plug some German words into your brain. 

If you'd like a little warm up, check out Anja’s video on the German articles "der", "die" and "das"! And bear this in mind: When learning the right German articles, it's not about gender identity, believe me. 🏳️‍🌈


German Nouns With The Masculine Article “der

The article “der“ is the masculine article in the German language. Please don't try to make sense of why some nouns are masculine, while others aren't.
Here are my hints on how to use this article the right way. There are groups of nouns that always take the masculine article.


Male People, Animals, Professions

In this category you can include all people, animals and professions that are male.
A lot of animal names are masculine by default—with a few exceptions, of course—and there are feminine versions of the names for the female animals. This happens in English, too.
For professions, we have different endings in German for masculine and feminine nouns, which is different in English.

Male people

  • der Mann (the man)
  • der Junge (the boy)
  • der Schüler (the pupil)


Male animals

  • der Löwe (the lion)
  • der Hase (the rabbit)
  • der Käfer (the beetle)


Male professionals

  • der Lehrer (the teacher)
  • der Mechaniker (the mechanic)
  • der Arzt (the doctor)

 


The Days Of The Week, Months, Seasons, Directions In German

Knowing the following list can already be a big help for you. Whenever I give my students this hint, their eyes start to glow. 

Days of the week

  • der Montag (Monday)
  • der Dienstag (Tuesday)
  • der Mittwoch (Wednesday)
  • der Donnerstag (Thursday)
  • der Freitag (Friday)
  • der Samstag (Saturday) 
  • der Sonntag (Sunday)


→ As you can see, most of these are compound nouns, with their second part being "-tag", which is "day" in English. It helps to know that it's "der Tag" (the day) in German. Compound nouns always take the article of the last noun in the row.


Seasons

Another super easy one to remember. One article says it all ! 

  • der Frühling (spring)
  • der Sommer (summer)
  • der Herbst (fall)
  • der Winter (winter) 


Months

  • der Januar (January)
  • der Februar (February)
  • der März (March)
  • der April (April)
  • der Mai (May)
  • der Juni (June)
  • der Juli (July)
  • der August (August)
  • der September (September)
  • der Oktober (October)
  • der November (November)
  • der Dezember (December)



German Nouns Ending In “-ant”, -ich”, -ling”, -us

All words ending with these suffixes will use the German masculine article “der. I’ll give you a few examples per suffix. However, I recommend you just pick one to remember, otherwise it might be too much to memorize at a time. 

-ant

  • der Elefant (the elephant)
  • der Passant (the passer-by)
  • der Mandant (the client)


→ Note that you can add "-in" to all of the above (ending in -ant) to turn the nouns into their feminine versions. Example: "die Passantin" (the—female—passer-by). Please check the relevant paragraph below for further information.


-ich (and -ig)

  • der Teppich (the carpet)
  • der Strich (the line)
  • der Honig (the honey) 


-ling

  • der Schmetterling (the butterfly)
  • der Säugling (the baby)
  • der Häuptling (the chief of a tribe) 


-us

  • der Bambus (the bamboo)
  • der Campus (the campus)
  • der Zirkus (the circus)



Car Brands In German

If you’re a car enthusiast, you will certainly like this one! 💖

  • der Volvo
  • der Mercedes
  • der Tesla 


Think of any other car brands to practice if you like! 🚗🚗


German Nouns Deriving From Verbs

There are nouns that derive from verbs. All we need to do here is get rid of the verb ending “-en”.
Nouns like these take the masculine article “der. However, you cannot form nouns like this from all verbs. 

  • der Schlaf / schlafen (the sleep / to sleep) 
  • der Sitz / sitzen (the seat / to sit)
  • der Kuss / küssen (the kiss / to kiss)


→ As you can see, they all follow the same pattern: Take the verb "schlafen" (to sleep), get rid of the ending "schlafen", add the article "der", and capitalize the new formed noun. There you go: "der Schlaf". 


Body Parts In German

I'd love to tell you that all body parts in German take the masculine article. Alas, that isn't so. However, for most of them, "der" is the right article. Literally, from head to toe, they are:

  • der Kopf (the head)
  • der Mund (the mouth)
  • der Zahn (the tooth)
  • der Hals (the neck, also: the throat)
  • der Nacken (the back of the neck)
  • der Arm (the arm)
  • der Ellenbogen (the elbow)
  • der Finger (the finger)
  • der Daumen (the thumb)
  • der Bauch (the belly)
  • der Rücken (the back)
  • der Po (the bottom)
  • der Knöchel (the ankle)
  • der Fuß (the foot)
  • der Zeh (the toe)

Fun fact

All alcoholic drinks take the masculine article "der":

  • der Rum (rum)
  • der Sekt (sparkling wine)
  • der Wein (wine)


→ This works for alcoholfree drinks and cocktails as well:

  • der [alkoholfreie] Mojito (the [alcoholfree] mojito)


Exception 🍻

  • das Bier (beer)


Well done, you! 💪

Time to relax a little. Enjoy Anja's video on the German articles. 😄


German Nouns With The Feminine Article “die

For the German feminine article "die", we also have a list of practical hints that will help you remember when to use it for which group of nouns. 


Female People, Animals, Professions

Just as mentioned above with the masculine article, we use the feminine article to describe all the people, animals and professionals that are female


Female people

  • die Frau (the woman)
  • die Freundin (the female friend, also: girlfriend)
  • die Schülerin (the female pupil)


Female animals

  • die Henne (the hen)
  • die Katze (the cat)
  • die Löwin (the lioness)


Female professionals

  • die Lehrerin (the female teacher)
  • die Mechanikerin (the female mechanic)
  • die Ärztin (the female doctor) 


→ Have you noticed the re-appearing ending "-in"? That's because you have a good eye. 👁️
In German, we can use the ending "-in", sometimes adding an umlaut, to turn masculine nouns in feminine ones. Wanna try? Let's take the word for "friend": der Freund + ending -in. Here we go: die Freundin.


German Rivers

Are you familiar with our beautiful rivers in Germany? It’s good to know that almost all of them have the female article. 

  • die Elbe (the Elbe)
  • die Mosel (the Moselle)
  • die Donau (the Danube)



German Nouns Ending In -ei”, -enz”, -heit-ie”, -ik”, -ion”, -keit”, -schaft”, -tät”, -ung”, “-ur

Whenever you hear words, nouns to be more specific, ending with these specific suffixes, you can be sure that these nouns go with a feminine article. Here are some examples for each ending: 

-ei

  • die Datei (the file)
  • die Hexerei (the witchcraft)
  • die Metzgerei (the butcher shop)


-enz (and -anz)

  • die Kohärenz (the coherence)
  • die Transparenz (the transparency)
  • die Eleganz (the elegance)


-heit

  • die Freiheit (the freedom)
  • die Gesundheit (the health)
  • die Weisheit (the wisdom)


-ie

  • die Phantasie (the fantasy)
  • die Theorie (the theory)
  • die Therapie (the therapy)


-ik

  • die Dynamik (the dynamic)
  • die Logik (the logic)
  • die Robotik (the robotics)


-ion

  • die Faszination (the fascination)
  • die Konstellation (the constellation)
  • die Situation (the situation)


-keit

  • die Arbeitslosigkeit (the unemployment)
  • die Aufmerksamkeit (the attention)
  • die Wachsamkeit (vigilance)


-schaft

  • die Herrschaft (the dominion)
  • die Leidenschaft (the passion)
  • die Wissenschaft (the science)


-tät

  • die Elastizität (the elasticity)
  • die Majestät (the majesty)
  • die Universität (the university)


-ung

  • die Erfahrung (the experience)
  • die Nahrung (the food / nutrition)
  • die Zeitung (the newspaper)


-ur

  • die Muskulatur (the musculature)
  • die Statur (the figure)
  • die Struktur (the structure)



German Nouns With The Neutral Article “das

As you already know, the German language also has a neutral article called “das. And just like the other German articles, there are some hints here that will help you. Again, learn one word for each of the categories below, and you should be good.


The Letters Of The Alphabet

  • das A (the A)
  • das B (the B)
  • das C (the C)


Nouns Ending In “-lein” Or “-chen” (Diminutives)

  • das Kindlein (the little kid)
  • das Mäuslein (the little mouse)
  • das Rehlein (the little deer)


  • das Gläschen (the little glass)
  • das Grübchen (the dimple)
  • das Häuschen (the little house)

Note that the endings "-chen", "-lein" (and "-erl" in Bavaria, Germany, and Austria) turn normal nouns into diminutives

So, add one of these endings to basically any noun, and turn them into something small.

 
In German, you can add them to names, too, and turn them into a terms of endearment. Like this:


  • Karl (Carl) + "-chen" = Karlchen (little Carl)


Fun fact

The German word for "girl" is

  • das Mädchen

If you have ever wondered how a female person can have a neutral article, now you know why.

German Nouns Ending In -ma”, -ment”, -um

Whenever you hear nouns ending with these specific suffixes, you can be sure that these nouns go with a neutral article. Here are some examples for each ending: 


-ma

  • das Dilemma (the dilemma) 
  • das Drama (the drama)
  • das Thema (the topic)


-ment

  • das Experiment (the experiment)
  • das Fundament (the foundation)
  • das Temperament (the temperament)


-um

  • das Museum (the museum)
  • das Mysterium (the mystery)
  • das Universum (the universe)


Nouns That Derive From The Infinitive Form Of A Verb

In the world of word formation, you can make nouns from verbs. While it doesn't work for all verbs, you can turn them into nouns simply by capitalizing the infinitive form, and adding the neutral article "das". It is basically used when we talk about the action of that particular verb.

Let's check a few examples:

  • essen - das Essen (to eat - the eating)
    Das Essen von viel Schokolade ist ungesund. (The eating of a lot of chocolate is unhealthy.) 
  • schreiben - das Schreiben (to write - the writing)
    Das Schreiben von Büchern dauert lang. (The writing of books takes a long time.)
  • schwimmen - das Schwimmen (to swim - the swimming)
    Das Schwimmen im See ist verboten. (Swimming in the lake is forbidden.) 


English Words Ending In "-ing"

The Germans use English words quite a lot. Any English noun ending in -ing takes the neutral article "das".

  • das Teambuilding (the team building) 
  • das Timing (the timing)
  • das Training (the practice)


German Collectives Starting With "Ge-"

As in any language, the German language has some nouns that describe collectives. They are used to describe a number of persons or things considered as one group or whole. If they start with "Ge-" they always take the neutral article "das". 

  • das Gebäude (the building)
  • das Gebirge (the mountains - the mountain range)
  • das Gestein (the rocks)


Gif of the film quote "Houston, we have a problem", illustrating the German word "das Problemchen", the little problem

Houston, wir haben ein Problemchen.

(Houston, we have a little problem.) 😉



The German Plural Article “die

This paragraph is going to be super short because it’s self explanatory. Here's a little reminder that the German definite article for plural nouns is always “die.
It works for all plurals in German. Simply use the article “diefor all German nouns in plural. Like in these examples here: 


  • die Astronauten (the astronauts)
  • die Buchstaben (the letters)
  • die Mädchen (the girls)
  • die Monate (the months)
  • die Situationen (the situations)
  • die Themen (the topics)


So, you think we opened a can of worms? No worries, if you want to revise how to make plural forms in German, we have you covered. 💪


Gendering In German

Since we live in a non-binary world, we would like to pay tribute to that. 🏳️‍🌈

There is no official rule of how to get inclusion right in German when you want to refer to more than the male of female version of a person or professional. But here is what is widely accepted and used:

Using Underscore "_"

We can use the underscore "_" to refer to the whole spectrum between male and female. In plural forms, simple write it like this:

  • die Leser_innen (the readers)
  • die Schüler_innen (the pupils)
  • die Trainer_innen (the coaches)


Using Asterisk "*"

The use of the asterisk "*" works equally inclusive. Write the singular forms like this:

  • der/ die Bäcker*in (the baker - male, female version and beyond)
  • der/ die Informatiker*in (the computer specialist - male, female version and beyond)
  • der/ die Programmierer*in (the programmer - male, female version and beyond)


And in plural it looks like this:

  • die Bäcker*innen (the bakers)
  • die Informatiker*innen (the computer specialists)
  • die Programmierer*innen (the programmers)


I'm glad you read the post all the way to the end. 💖

And now it's time for our little quiz, don't you think?


Quiz: Can You Guess The Right Article "der", "die", "das"?!

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