DER? DIE? DAS? The German Articles (how to never forget them!)

DER? DIE? DAS? The German Articles (how to never forget them!)

VANESSA
How do I translate “the” in German?

DENISA
Da gibt es drei Optionen.
(There are three options.)

VANESSA
Drei?
(3?)

DENISA
Yes. Der, die and das. Komm. Ich erklär’ es dir.
(Come. I’ll explain it to you.)

Let’s learn the definite articles and the indefinite articles and what the differences are in this video. Ich bin Spring German Lehrerin Denisa. Bist du bereit? (I’m Spring German teacher Denisa. Are you ready?)

1. der, die, das (the)

Der, die and das are the definite articles in German.

Definite articles are used when you mean one specific person or thing.

DENISA
Schau mal! Der Junge hat ein blaues T-Shirt.
(Look! The boy has a blue t-shirt.)

I said der Junge (the boy) because I meant one specific boy. But I said “ein blaues T-Shirt” (a blue t-shirt) because it’s one t-shirt out of millions of t-shirts.

Definite articles are also used when there is only one of it, e.g. der Eiffelturm (the Eiffel tower).

Der is used for masculine words e.g.:

  • der Mann (the man)
  • der Hund (the dog)
  • der Tisch (the table)

Die is used for feminine words like:

  • die Frau (the woman)
  • die Katze (the cat)
  • die Tasche (the bag)

Das is used for neutral words like:

  • das Haus (the house)
  • das Kind (the child)
  • das Kissen (the pillow)

What if it’s not obvious if something is masculine, feminin or neutral? The best way, is to learn the noun with the article. Here you can memorize it with the color “trick”, imagine all masculine words in e.g. blue (like a blue table), all feminine words in red and all neutral words in yellow (or whatever color). When needing the gender of the noun, just think about the object and its color.

VANESSA
Das Kissen ist schön. Woher hast du es?
(The pillow is pretty. Where do you have it from?)

DENISA
Das Kissen habe ich aus Marokko. Die Statue habe ich aus Deutschland.
(The pillow is from Morocco. The statue I got from Germany.)

VANESSA
Okay. Das Kissen merke ich mir mit der Farbe Gelb. Die Statue merke ich mir mit der Farbe Rot.
Und welchen Artikel hat das?
(Okay. I’ll memorize the pillow in the color yellow. The statue I’ll memorize in red. And which article has that?)

DENISA
Das ist das Bild.
(That’s the picture.)

VANESSA
Danke für deine Hilfe.
(Thank you for your help.)

DENISA
Du kannst mich immer fragen.
(You can always ask me.)

Chunk alert!

If you are not sure which article to use, don’t be afraid to ask. You can ask by saying Welchen Artikel hat das?  (Which article does that have?) When you got your answer and you want to say thank you, say Danke für deine Hilfe. (Thank you for your help.).

What are chunks you ask? Chunks are word combinations that natives use all the time and that you can learn by heart as a whole. Get the most important German chunks you need for a conversation in our free essential German chunking kit. The link is in the description.

If you don’t know the colors in German, check Spring German teacher Brunhild’s video here.

Other tips are:

  • Colors are always neutral: das Blau, das Gelb, das Orange (the blue, the yellow, the orange)
  • Jahreszeiten, Monate oder Wochentage sind immer männlich: der Frühling, der Februar, der Montag (seasons, months and week days are always masculine: the spring, the February, the Monday)
  • Almost all types of fruit are feminine: die Kiwi, die Banane, die Orange, aber: der Apfel! (the kiwi (feminine), the banana (feminine), the orange (feminine), but: the apple (masculine)!)

Guys, before we continue, at the end of this video we will do a quiz to check your knowledge. So stay tuned.

2. ein, eine (a, an)

indefinite articles are used when

  • you haven’t seen the thing or person before, so it’s unknown to you

Da ist ein rotes Auto. Wem gehört es? (There is a red car. To whom does ist belong?)

  • or when it’s one of many

Das ist ein altes Haus. Davon gibt es viele hier. (That is an old house. There are many of them here.)

ein (a, an) is used for masculine or neutral words like:

  • ein Mann (a man)
  • ein Haus (a house)
  • ein Hund (a dog)

eine (a, an) is used for feminine words like:

  • eine Frau (a woman)
  • eine Tante (an aunt)
  • eine Katze (a cat)

VANESSA
Wer ist das?
(Who is that?)

DENISA
Das ist eine Tante von mir.
(That is an aunt of mine.)

VANESSA
Du meinst die Tante.
(You mean the aunt.)

DENISA
Nein. Es ist eine von vielen. Ich habe fünf Tanten.
(No. She is one of many. I have five aunts.)

3. definite vs. indefinite articles

To sum up:

definite articles

  • der (masculine), die (feminine), das (neutral)
  • used when there is only one of it in the world
  • used when talking about one specific person or thing

indefinite articles

  • ein (masculine, neutral), eine (feminine)
  • used when you don’t know someone or something
  • used when it’s one of many

Don’t forget to learn the articles with the noun and use the color trick to not forget which noun is masculine, feminine or neutral.

4. “die” (the) as the plural article

VANESSA
Die Bilder sind echt schön!
(The pictures are really beautiful!)

DENISA
Danke. Aber es heißt das Bild.
(Thank you. But it’s called the picture.)

VANESSA
Nein. Die Bilder. Mehrere.
(No. The pictures. More than one.)

Die (the) is not only the definite article for feminine words, it’s also used as the plural article. So it doesn’t matter if the noun is masculine, feminine or neuter. If it’s in plural, the article is die (the).

Bist du bereit für ein Quiz? (Are you ready for a quiz?) Let’s check your knowledge.

5. Quiz

The answers will be in the dialogue after.

  1. What’s the definite article of Frau (woman)?
  2. What’s the indefinite article of Auto (car)?
  3. What’s the definite article of Mann (man)?

Pause the video to make some notes.

Here are your results in a dialogue. I hope you will find all the answers. Write them in the comments and I’ll correct them for you.

VANESSA
Die Frau hat ein schönes Auto.
(The woman has a pretty car.)

DENISA
Ja. Der Mann hat ein großes Auto, schau!
(Yes. The man has a big car, look!)

VANESSA
Jetzt tanzen die Frau. Wieso tanzen sie?
(Now the woman dances. Why is she dancing?)

DENISA
Es heißt: Jetzt tanzt die Frau.
(It’s called: Now the woman dances.)

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