What German Article Must I Use? (Part I)

I know this is one of the most difficult issues of German language: how to know the German article of a noun!

But there’s a huge number of nouns whose article you can determine depending on its ending.

The masculine and the feminine article themselves give you a hint:

  • der ➔ -er: der Fernseher, Computer, Fußgänger, Taschenrechner, Lautsprecher, Mixer, Finger, Flieger, Kleber, Tacker, Tiger, Salamander, Meister, Amerikaner, Spanier, Lehrer, Manager, Zuhörer, Mörder, Warmblüter 
    • Unfortunately, there are some exceptions you have to learn separately: das Wasser, Feuer, Wetter, Fenster, Messer, Poster; die Butter, Schulter.
    • Achtung: the ending –ier is neuter: das Bier, Tier, Klavier, Revier, Quartier (except for Stier which is a male animal).
  • die ➔ -e: die Sache, Lampe, Flasche, Frage, Giraffe, Geschichte, Tasche, Seite, Taste, Note, Ente, Katze, Ratte, Quelle, Kasse, Klasse, Rasse
    • Achtung: male beings are masculine: der Junge, Bote, Zeuge, Türke, Tscheche, Grieche, Ire, Löwe, Hase, Bulle, Ochse.
    • Exceptions: der Name, Buchstabe, Gedanke, Friede (all these masculine nouns in -e belong to the n-declension).

Male and Female Beings

Maybe you knew already or you have realized by now that the gender of the being is more important than the ending of the noun, so:

  • Male beings are always masculine: der Mann, Junge, Herr, Vater, Bruder, Sohn, Opa, Onkel, Neffe, Koch, Polizist, Fotograf, Arzt, Gast, Repräsentant, Student, Lehrling, Chirurg; male animals: Hund, Kater, Elefant, Stier, Hahn, Hengst, Enterich, Mäuserich
    • Achtung, the following animals are neuter (i.e. they don’t refer to a specific gender): das Pferd, Huhn, Kamel. Also Kind is neuter because it doesn’t refer to a specific gender.
  • Female beings are always feminine: die Frau, Dame, Mutter, Schwester, Tochter, Oma, Tante, Nichte, Köchin, Rezeptionistin, Lehrerin, Japanerin, Französin, Fotografin, Ärztin, Politikerin, Musikerin, Magd; female animals: Katze, Hündin, Stute, Henne
    • Achtung: das Mädchen is the only exception of this rule because it is a diminutive form (-chen) and in German all diminutives are neuter (no exception 😉 ).

Summary

In short, below you have a table to know the German article depending on the noun’s ending (part 1):

der die das
ending –er

male beings

ending –e

female beings

ending –chen; ending –ier

nouns for beings without reference to a specific gender

Continue reading PART II. 😉