Articles are actually a type of determiner, or word or words that precede a noun or noun phrase and serve as a reference point. There are several kinds of determiners, including articles, demonstratives, possessives, and quantifiers.
There are several kinds of articles, but in this module we focus on the definite article. The definite article “the” is used when referring to a specific noun or nouns. In German, due to the gender of nouns, there are three definite articles; however, these can change form depending on case (e.g. nominative vs. accusative). Here are some examples:
Der Junge ist groß. / The boy is tall.
Das Auto ist rot. / The car is red.
Die Frau ist klug. / The woman is smart.
Die Kinder sind jung. / The children are young.
There are three definite articles in the nominative (der, die, das), as the plural and singular feminine forms both use die. The definite article changes from case to case, but not always for each grammatical gender in every case. Below is a chart of the definite articles in all cases, for your reference.
In the chart, the definite articles are listed according to gender and case. It is easy to see that the definite article for masculine changes from nominative to accusative: der → den. However, the other articles also change from accusative to dative and dative to genitive.
Articles are sometimes replaced by other determiners, such as the demonstratives “this” and “that” (plural: “these” and “those”). These demonstratives specifically refer to nouns, so they would not take the place of indefinite articles (see module on indefinite articles).
There are several words that follow the same declension as the definite articles ‘der’, ‘die’, ‘das’ :
dies- = this
jen- = that
jed- = each/every (NOTE: the plural of ‘jed-‘ is ‘alle’ (all), and follows plural declension)
manch- = many/some
solch- = such a
welch- = which
The endings of these ‘der-Wörter’ are listed below (with the definite articles in parentheses next to them):
As can be seen, the endings of the ‘der-Wörter’ follow the pattern of definite articles and their endings. Here are a few examples of the ‘der-Words’ in sentences:
Jede Person muss dieses Formular ausfüllen. / Every person has to fill out this form.
Diese Wohnung ist sehr schön. / This apartment is very nice.
Manche Kinder können nicht schwimmen. / Some children cannot swim.
Welches Buch hast du da? / Which book do you have there?
Solche Probleme gibt es immer beim Reparieren. / There are always such problems when doing repairs.
Welchen Kuchen möchten Sie denn? Diesen oder jenen? / Which cake would you like then? This one or that one?