German Grammar: Die Artikel
The articles

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German Grammar: Die Artikel
The articles

Did you know German is the only language that still capitalizes its nouns?
Sometime during the Middle Ages to Renaissance, the capitalization of some nouns, later more, became popular across many European languages. At some point in time, most of them would capitalize a few common nouns. In the following centuries, it became fashionable to drop capitalization again. German seems to keep very fond of this. Let us show you why: Die Spinnen means "the spiders".
Die spinnen means "they are crazy". Der Gefangene floh means "the prisoner fled".
Der gefangene Floh means "the captured flea".
Capitalizing your nouns can be a very serious business. :)
More fun-facts about German nouns
Nouns are either masculine, feminine or neuter. While in English we use the before nouns, in German we use the article:
  • der → before masculine nouns
  • die → before feminine nouns
  • das → before neuter nouns
  • die → before plural nouns (no matter the gender)
der Mann
the man
die Frau
the woman
das Kind
the child
die Kinder
the children
Are inanimate objects always neuter?
Unfortunately not. "The sun" is female die Sonne and "the moon" is male der Mond and "the child" is neuter das Kind.
So there is no correlation between the English "it" and the German neuter?
I'm glad you asked... No.
Aspiring to know them all Even if most grammar books and German teachers claim there are no rules or logic behind the gender of words, we will show you in subsequent lessons that this is not entirely true. There are some rules that will help you get a head start making very good predictions about the gender of nouns!
The articles are probably the most famously frustrating topic of German grammar and you shouldn't get too hung up on them. Knowing the gender of all nouns is not a requirement for being perfectly fluent in German! Everyone will still understand you, even if you don't get them right all the time :)