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Definite Articles in German

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A definite article (der Definitartikel) is that tiny word in English we refer to as "the." In German, we have three: der, die, das. As in English, they are also placed before the noun (or their modifying adjectives). In German however, each of the definite articles has a gender:

  1. Der - is placed before all masculine nouns.
    For example:

    der Hut (the hat)

  2. Die - is placed before all feminine nouns.
    For example:

    die Klasse (the class)

  3. Das - is placed before all neuter nouns.
    For example:

    das Kind (the child)


Please note that the above forms are for nouns in the nominative case only, as you would find them listed in the dictionary. To see how definite articles change in the different cases click on the following links.

The Four German Cases:Accusative - Akkusativ
The Four Cases: The Dative
The Four German Cases: Genitive - Wesfall

How Do I Know Which Definite Article to Place Before a Noun?

There are some guidelines for specific groups of nouns which you can view at the following link German Gender Hints. However, for the most part, you need to memorize which noun goes with which definite article. As you do so, keep in mind these two basic rules:
  1. Most nouns denoting male and female beings will be der and die respectively.

    For example:

    der Mann (the man)
    die Frau (the woman)

    but

    das Mädchen (the girl)
    See above last-mentioned link for why.


  2. In compound nouns the correct definite article is the one that belongs to the last noun.

    For example:

    das Hochzeitsfest/the wedding celebration (=> das Fest )



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