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Definite and indefinite articles

In the previous lesson, the declension and the grammatical gender concepts were introduced. Let’s recall the definite and indefinite articles in the nominative case:

Definite Article                     Indefinite Article

Der                                           ein

Die                                           eine

Das                                          ein

In this lesson, we will cover the rules that define which nouns should take which definite articles. In other words, you will learn some points which will help you decide whether to use der, die or das with a specific noun.  Apart from these rules, you need to memorize the article along with the noun you are learning, most of the time no logic but a true memorization will apply.

Der, Die or Das? How to decide

Natural Gender

First of all, female and male people, relatives and professions take the natural gender. For example,

  • The name of “man” in German is masculine hence “the men” is “der Mann” in German. Similarly the woman is feminine and therefore “the woman” is “die Frau” in German.

Same holds for the names of the occupations. For example;

  • der Arzt is the (male) doctor and die Ärztin is “the (female) doctor
  • der Anwalt is the (male) advocate and die Anwaltin is the (female) advocate

It is very common that the names for the professions corresponding to females are formed by attaching an “-in” to the name of the male version, as seen in the above examples. Further examples are given in the vocabulary section below.  

Some German nouns which refer to humans do not obey this rule. For example; das Mädchen means the girl. However, it is not feminine but it is neuter.

The Masculine Nouns

Below are the essential rules you need to know about the masculine substantives are summarized.

The names of the seasons, months, and days of the week, daytime are masculine:

  • der Frühling, der Winter, der Sommer, der Herbs
  • der Januar, der Februar, der März, der April, der Mai, der Juni, der Juli, der August, der September, der Oktober, der November, der Dezember
  • der Montag, der Dienstag, der Mittwoch, der Donnerstag, der Freitag, der Samstag, der Sonntag
  • der Vortag, der Morgen, der Abend, der Mittag. The exception is die Nacht

The description of the rainfall, directions and many words related to weather are masculine:

  • der Schnee, der Regen, der Nebel
  • der Westen, der Süden, der Osten, der Norden
  • der Hurrikan, der Sturm, der Wind

The nouns which have the following endings are masculine:

-us, -ling, -ant, -är, -at, -loge, -or, -ent, , -et, , -ist, -eur

  • der Dekor, der Demokrat, der Kaktus, der Student, der Sekretär, der Athlet, der Animateur, der Astrologe, der Florist, der Demonstrant, der Rohling, der Höftling

Minerals are masculine

  • der Topas, der Türkis, der Rubin, der Aquamarin

The Feminine Nouns

Below are the essential rules you need to know about the feminine substantives are summarized.

Nouns ending in -heit, -keit, -schaft, -ung, –ie, -ei, -ur, -thek, -nz, ät,-ion, -ik,  are feminine:

  • die Linie, die Karosserie, die Epidemie , die Abtei, die Korrektur, die Bibliothek, die Statistik, die Erwartung, die Krankheit, die Ewigkeit, die Wirtshaft, die Arroganz, die Aktivität

The numbers are feminine

  • die eins, die zwei, die drei, die vier

The Neuter Nouns

Below are the essential rules you need to know about the neuter substantives are summarized.

letters are neuter:

  • das A, das B, das C, das D ...

nouns ending in -um, -ment, -at, -chen, -lein, -o, -tum are neuter

  • das Fundament, das Studium, das Referat, das Volkstum, das Hütchen

 colors are neuter

  • das Rot, das Grüne, das Schwarze,

When to use definite articles

  • The definite article is used when someone or something is known or already mentioned.
  • Some prepositions are used always together with definite articles. For example, am Montag (on Monday)
  •  If superlatives are used, definite articles must be used.

When to use indefinite articles

  • If someone or something is not known or is mentioned for the first time
  • When plural nouns are used to make generalizations: Kinder fragen viel (Kids asks a lot)
  • When making negatives, the corresponding indefinite article “kein” is used: Ich habe kein Geld (I have no money). More details in the related lesson.


Some important words which have the ending –in for the female version

  • der Student (male student) & die Studentin (female student)
  • der Nachbar (male neighbor) & die Nachbarin (female neigbour)
  • der Dolmetscher (male translator) & die Dolmetscherin (female translator)
  • der Schüler (male pupil) & die Schülerin (female pupil)
  • der Lehrer (male teacher) & die Lehrerin (female teacher)
  • der Freund (boyfriend) & die Freundin (girlfriend)


Below are some words listed whose articles can be guessed using the rules given in this lesson. Guess the correct article.

--- Dame

--- Herr

--- Vater

--- Tante

--- Oktober




















---die Gesellschaft