The most difficult part of learning German is probably understanding the German articles. You’ve got the masculine der, the feminine die, the neutral das, and the plural die, whereas it’s just “the” in English. These articles change a lot depending on the context. But don’t worry! We’ve designed a little guide on how to really understand the articles. You’ve got this!
The first essential step to understanding the different articles is to ensure you know this basic principle: All German nouns have an assigned gender.
How do I know what gender a noun has?
This is the million-dollar question! No qualities make a noun male, female, or neuter. You can’t just use feminine articles for words considered female. The gender of the noun has absolutely nothing to do with the noun itself. So, you can’t just think “Hmm... I feel like the word “lip stick” seems feminine, right?”
That even objects have a gender seems strange to many. People are familiar with gendered pronouns (he, she, it…), but the German language takes it a step further. Now, you have to, of course, try to memorize hundreds, even thousands of German articles. There isn't really a way around that. But that sounds more laborious than it is. After all, vocabulary has to be learned anyway. Just include the nouns' articles from the beginning. And, it will help to look at categories of words that share the same article:
- Male persons and animals
- days of the week, months of the year
- seasons, and most weather elements
- car makes
- monetary units