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The Struggle with the Articles der, die, das

When you learn German, then with high probability you are struggling with the German articles.

In English we only have ‘the’ for singular and plural.

However, the German language has three singular articles ‘der, die, das’ plus ‘die’ for Plural. In most cases you don’t even know why you must use one vs. the other article for a noun.

For example:

‘der Kopf – the head’ but ‘das Bein – the leg’ or ‘die Hand – the hand’. Each one of them are parts of the body – so why ‘der’ in one case and ‘das’ or ‘die’ in the other case?

To make learning German a little simpler for you, in particular the use of articles I am giving you a few rules:

1. All car brands in the German language use the article ‘der’

E.g. der BMW, der Volvo, der Mazda, der Ford, der VW, der Ferrari, der Mercedes

Of course, there is one exception: ‘die Viper’ and ‘die Corvette’

2. All motorcycle brands in the German language use the article ‘die’

E.g. die Honda, die BMW, die Kawasaki, die Harley-Davidson, die Aprillia

3. All German nouns ending in –keit, -heit, -tion use the article ‘die’

E.g. ‘die Einheit – the unit’, ‘die Gesundheit – the health’ or ‘die Nation – the nation’.

There are of course a lot more of those little rules. If you like to get an entire list of rule, please subscribe to our newsletter on top. You will receive one for each one of the three German articles.

However, besides those rules, you still have a bunch of German nouns left where you just have to learn the correct article by heart. In order to learn German I’d suggest though that you just make it a habit to learn the correct article together with the noun.
A great learning tool to learn the German nouns with their correct article is the Byki software from Transparent Language. There is even a mobile app for Android and Mac. Get a FREE version of Byki here:


Bis bald!
…Und viel Spaß noch beim lustigen Video mit Kaya Yanar über die Deutschen Artikel der, die ,das!

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  • Christian December 28, 2013, 1:37 PM

    Aren’t most nouns beginning with ge- neuter? I think of the ge- nouns as having some collective-group nature that would include both masculine and feminine, like a herd of animal would.

    Reply
    • German Coach December 29, 2013, 11:55 AM

      Christian, thank you for your comment. Yes, nouns starting with Ge- are neuter if they are combined with a verb stem, for example das Gesinge, das Gehör, das Gebäck. However, as someone learning German zou also need to know that there are plenty of nouns with Ge- that can be masculine or female, e.g. die Gemeinde, die Gerade, der Gesang. So, we need to be careful when trying to generalize

      Reply
  • jason June 15, 2014, 3:51 PM

    Cool explanation. Thanks

    Reply