What German Article Must I Use? (Part I) - German Takeaways

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, Roboter, Kummer, Arbeitgeber, Krater, Warmblüter 
    • Unfortunately, there are some exceptions you have to learn separately: DAS Wasser, Zimmer, Fenster, Messer, Alter, Feuer, Wetter/Gewitter, Fieber, Thermometer, Pflaster, Opfer, Ufer, Futter, Lager, Theater, Poster, Semester, Monster, Wunder, Leder, Abenteuer; DIE Nummer/Ziffer, Butter, Schulter, Leber, Kammer, Klammer, Feder, Steuer, Oper, Dauer, Mauer, Leiter, Feier.
    • Achtung: the ending –ier is neuter: das Papier, Bier, Tier, Klavier, Revier, Quartier (except for Stier which is a male animal and (Neu-)Gier which is feminine).
  • 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, Friede, Glaube, Wille, Gedanke, Funke (all these masculine nouns in -e belong to the n-declension).
    • Other exceptions: DER Käse; DAS Ende, Auge, Interesse, Erbe, Finale.

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.