German Articles

What are Articles?

In English, there are three articles: "a," "an," and "the." They tell you if we are talking about, for example, a specific tree ("the tree") or an unspecified tree ("a tree"). With "a" and "an," we have to use a different one depending on the beginning sound of the noun ("a tree" vs. "an apple").

In German, are going to extend this a bit.

First, we include more things under the category "article." The different types of articles are:

  • Definite and Indefinite Articles
  • the Zero Article
  • Possessive Determiners
  • the Negative Article

Second, articles in German give more information than just specified noun or unspecified noun. They also tell you the noun's

  • Gender:   der = masculine; die = feminine; das = neuter
  • Number: Singular or Plural
  • Case:   Nominative, Accusative, Dative, Genitive


Definite and Indefinite Articles

Bestimmte und unbestimmte Artikel

Definite articles are used when talking about specific nouns (like the English "the"), while indefinite articles are used when talking about nouns in general (like the English "a" / "an"). Both need to be declined (changed) based on the noun's gender, number, and case.

Examples:
Definite Articles:der Mann“, „die Frau“, „das Kind“
Indefinite Articles: ein Mann“, „eine Frau“, „ein Kind“

The Zero Article

Nullartikel

Most nouns comes with an article, but there are exceptions where NO article in used. We call this the zero article.

Example: „Dort stehen Autos.“ (No article before Autos)

Possessive Determiners

Possessivartikel

Possessive determiners tell you who or what the noun belongs to, like the English "my" or "his."

Example: „Das ist Anna. Ihre Katze spielt im Garten.“

The Negative Article "Kein"

Negativartikel kein

When we say negative article, we mean the word "kein" or its other forms (i.e. keine, keinen,...). It is used to negate nouns that have an indefinite article or no article.

Example: „Das ist kein Mann.“