The definite article in German exists in three different types: masculine, feminine and neuter.
Every noun (also called a substantive) has a specific article that you should learn from the beginning. (Don’t worry, our app will certainly support you here!)
But be careful! Depending on the case – nominative, genitive, dative and accusative – your definite article can change.
Because it is not always possible to recognise which article a word need. But word endings as well as certain groups can help you make the right choice.
The masculine article in the singular: der
Words that have one of the following endings are mostly (not always, but often!) masculine and therefore have the article der:
- -ich – der Stich (the stitch), der Teppich (the carpet), der Pfirsich (the peach)
- -ig – der Honig (the honey), der König (the king), der Essig (the vinegar)
- -eig – der Zweig (the branch), der Teig (the dough)
- -ling – der Frühling (the spring), der Schmetterling (the butterfly), der Liebling (the darling)
- -ismus – der Tourismus (the tourism), der Journalismus (the journalism), der Egoismus (the egoism)
- -ent – der Student (the student), der Patient (the patient), der Akzent (the accent)
- -or – der Monitor (the monitor), der Doktor (the doctor), der Autor (the author)
- -ast – der Palast (the palace), der Gymnasiast (the high school student)
In addition, daysof the week (Tuesday, Friday, …), months (July, October, …) or seasons (winter, summer, …) are also masculine. The same applies to pointsof the compass (north, south, …) or car brands (BMW, Mercedes, …).
The feminine article in the singular: die
You can easily recognise the words that need the feminine article by their endings. Thus, the following are mostly feminine and therefore need the article die:
- -keit – die Tätigkeit (the activity), die Pünkltichkeit (the punctuality)
- -ung – die Bildung (the education), die Prüfung (the exam), die Zeitung (the newspaper)
- -schaft – die Gesellschaft (the society), die Leidenschaft (the passion), die Freundschaft (the friendship)
- -heit – die Sicherheit (the safety), die Gewohnheit (the habit), die Kindheit (the childhood)
- -erei – die Metzgerei (the butcher shop), die Malerei (the painting), die Brauerei (the brewery)
- -in – die Lehrerin (the teacher), die Studentin (the student), die Kundin (the customer)
- -ion – die Region (the region), die Million (the million), die Billion (the billion)
- -tion – die Definition (the definition), die Kommunikation (the communication)
- -sion – die Pension (the pension), die Diskussion (the discussion), die Version (the version)
Additionally, countries and territories ending in -ei, -ie or -e are also feminine: die Türkei (Turkey), die Normandie (Normandy) or die Ukraine (Ukraine). Unlike car brands, motorcycle brands are also feminine: die Vespa (the Vespa).
The neuter article in the singular: das
Also, for the neuter article you can usually look at how the word ends:
- -tum – das Eigentum (the property), das Datum (the date)
- -lein – das Fräulein (the young lady), das Männlein (the little man)
- -icht – das Dickicht (the thicket), das Licht (the light)
- -o – das Foto (the photo), das Lotto (the lottery)
- -tel – das Mittel (the means), das Drittel (the third)
Moreover, colours (red, yellow, …) as well as letters (A, B, …) need the neuter article das. If you have a term that begins with Ge-, there is a very high probability that you will have to choose the neuter article – das Gemurmel (the murmur), das Gewässer (the watercourse).
The definite article in the plural: die
In the singular, the definite article is complicated because you have to pay attention to so many things. It is therefore particularly important that you learn each word with der, die or das right from the start. This makes it easier for you to use the German language correctly in everyday life.
The definite article in the plural is simpler. Because it doesn’t matter whether the word is masculine, feminine or neuter, the article is always: die.
- der -> die – der König -> die Könige (the king – the kings), der Student -> die Studenten (the student – the students)
- die -> die – die Zeitung – > die Zeitungen (the newspaper – the newspapers), die Gewohnheit -> die Gewohnheiten (the habit – the habits)
- das -> die – das Licht -> die Lichter (the light – the lights), das Foto -> die Fotos (the photo – the photos)
How to learn the definite article in German
As you can see, there are different endings or groups that show you whether a word is masculine, feminine or neuter. But note that there are always exceptions.
However, our app supports you as well as possible and shows you each noun with the corresponding article. This makes it even easier to learn it directly and not have any problems with it later.
Do you have questions about the definite article in German?