The Foreign Service Institute considers German as a language similar to English, and it takes learners less than 800 hours to achieve fluency. If you are an English speaker or speak English, then you will find it easy to learn the German language. However, remembering the German articles will definitely give you a hard time. Tons of questions like “Why is there gender for the articles?”, “Why can’t it just be one as “the” in English?”, “What is the rule for German articles?” will surely pop up in your mind. Let us tell you how you can master der, die and das.
German Articles: Why?
German articles are confusing for the beginners. Despite being similar to English, German is different in the sense that every single noun must go with the correct article. A change in the article results in a different meaning, or no meaning. Also, the articles change in different German cases such as Akkusativ (accusative), Dativ (dative) and Genitiv (genitive). If the article is wrong, the declination will also be wrong. To avoid silly mistakes, nothing is better than memorizing the German articles from the first day.
Tips and Tricks for mastering the German Articles
Signals for the German Articles
Most of the German language teachers would recommend their students look for the signals of the German articles. It’s true. At the beginning, this trick will help you recognize and use the correct article. The table below lists out the common endings that are the signals for der, die or das. Before you read it, take a pen, note down one word for one ending and check if the article corresponds to the “rule:”
Moreover, there are certain rules to help you learn the German articles by heart. For days, months, seasons and directions, just pick der. Are you referring to a ship or an aircraft? These names always go with die, just like the English speakers call a ship “she.”Another good news is, names of occupations depend on the gender of the worker. For instance, a Lehrer is a male teacher (der) and a Lehrerin is a female teacher (die). When it comes to a color, or a noun borrowed from English, das is what you are looking for. Das is the article for those nouns that originate from the infinitive forms of verbs such as das Essen, das Schreiben.
Practice with an appropriate method
Despite a few good signals, the German articles do not always follow the rule. A handful of exceptions will make it hard to choose the correct article. Here, just like in learning any new language, practice is the key. As discussed above, you should learn the article together with the noun. Every time you come across a new word, try to use it in a sentence. An example with a certain context will help a lot. In this way, the word will be imprinted on your mind to be recalled later. This is how you will lower the chance of making mistakes. By Trinh Tran