Rules For The German Articles (der, die, das)

Regeln für Artikel

Rules for articles

As you have learnt, in the German language there are three articles for nouns in singular: der/ ein for masculine nouns, die/ eine for feminine nouns and das/ ein for neuter nouns. German native speakers know mostly intuitively what the article of each noun is. However, non-native speakers need to memorize the articles. There are several rules and guidelines determining the articles of some categories of nouns. However, there are as well many exceptions, so please do not rely on it too much.

 

Regel für Artikel: der

Rules for article: der

The following nouns have the article der:

  • Nouns for masculine persons and functions/professions: Vater, Pilot, Doktor, etc.
  • Names of seasons: Frühling (spring), Sommer, Herbst (autumn), Winter, etc.
  • Names of months: Januar, Juli, Dezember, etc.
  • Names of days of the week: Montag, Dienstag, Samstag, Sonntag, etc.

Exception: das Wochenende

  • Names of compass directions: Norden, Osten, Süden, Westen, Nordwesten, etc.
  • Names of precipitations: Regen, Schnee, Hagel, etc.
  • Names of car brands: Audi, BMW, Mercedes; Volkswagen, etc.
  • Names of trains: IC; ICE, RE, ME, etc.
  • Nouns derived from verbs without suffix: Gang, Fang (catch), etc.

 

The following categories of nouns have mainly the article der:

  • Names of alcoholic beverages: Cognac, Wein, Whiskey, Likör, etc.
    exceptions: das Bier
  • Names of rivers outside Europe: Amazonas, Mississippi, etc.
  • Names of mountains: Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro, etc.
    exception: die Zugspitze, etc.

 

Furthermore, nouns with the suffixes below have the article der:

  • –er (nouns derived from verbs): Fahrer, Finder, Gewinner, Trinker, etc.
  • –ismus: Kapitalismus, Journalismus, etc.

 

Most of nouns with the following suffixes have the article der:

  • –ant: Demonstrant, Elefant, etc.
    exceptions: das Croissant, das Restaurant, etc.
  • –or: Motor, Traktor, etc.
    exceptions: das Chlor, etc.

 

Regel für Artikel: die

Rules for article: die

The following nouns have the article die:

  • Nouns for feminine persons and functions/professions: Mutter, Doktorin, Stewardess, etc.
  • Names of motorcycle brands: Harley Davidson, BMW (only motorcycle), Yamaha, etc.
  • Names of planes and ships: Boeing 747, Titanic, etc.

 

The following categories of nouns have mainly the article die:

  • Names of plants and trees: Birke, Rose, etc.

Furthermore, nouns with the suffixes below have the article die:

  • –schaft: Freundschaft (friendship), Partnerschaft (partnership)
  • –t (nouns derived from verbs): Fahrt, etc.

 

Foreign nouns with the suffixes below have the article die:

  • –ade: Hitparade, Marmelade, etc.
  • –age: Garage, Passage, etc.
  • –anz: Eleganz, Dominanz, etc.
  • –enz: Existenz, Tendenz, etc.
  • –ik: Kritik, Musik, etc.
  • –ion: Diskussion, Koalition, etc.
  • –tät: Identität, Qualität, etc.
  • –ur: Agentur (agency), Reparatur (repair), etc.

 

Most of nouns with the following endings have the article die:

  • –e: Grenze, Lampe, etc.
  • –ie: Diplomatie, Psychologie, etc.
    exceptions: der Junkie, der Hippie, etc.
  • –in: Politikerin, Studentin, Touristin

 

Regel für Artikel: das

Rules for article: das

The following nouns have the article das:

  • Nouns derived from infinitives: Essen, Schreiben; Lesen, Sprechen, Finden, etc.
  • Nouns derived from adjectives: Gute, Schöne, Simple, Perfekte, etc.
  • Names of colors: Rot, Gelb, Blau, etc. (das Rot, in Rot)

But: Das Auto ist rot, gelb, blau, etc.

 

Furthermore, nouns with the suffixes below have the article das:

  • –ial: Material, Potenzial, etc.

Most of nouns with the following suffixes have the article das:

  • –ment: Instrument, Parlament, etc.
    exceptions: der Konsument, der Zement, etc.
  • –nis: Tennis, etc.
    exceptions: die Wildnis, etc.
  • –o: Auto, Konto, etc.
    exceptions: die Avocado, der Euro, etc.
  • –tum: Quantum, Ultimatum, etc.
  • –um (nouns of Latin origin): Publikum, Museum, Stadium, etc.

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