Definite and Indefinite Articles In German

In German, as in English, nouns are not normally used on their own. They are almost always preceded by an article. There are different kind of article.
The Indefinite and the Definite Article
  • The indefinite article (ein, eine) is used just like the English a/an if there is onlz one object or person or if something is new, unknown or non-specific.
  • The definite article (der, die, das) normally refers just like the English the to something particular or something we already know.
The definite article tells three things about the noun depending on how it is used in the sentence.
  • the gender: either masculine (der), neuter (das) or feminine (die)
  • the number: singular or plural
  • the case: nominative, accusative, dative or genitive
The negtive form of the indefinite article ein, eine is kein, keine.
The negative form of the definite article is formed with nicht which is placed before article.
There is no indefinite article in the plural.-

Forms of the Article

In German, articles change their form depending on how the nouns they belong to are used in the sentence. The different forms look as the following example.

Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nom. der Mann das Kind die Frau die Leute
ein Mann ein Kind eine Frau - Leute
kein Mann kein Kind keine Frau keine Leute
Acc. den Mann das Kind die Frau die Leute
einen Mann ein Kind eine Frau - Leute
keinen Mann kein Kind keine Frau keine Leute
Dat. dem Mann dem Kind der Frau den Leute
einem Mann einem Kind einer Frau - Leute
keinem Mann keinem Kind keiner Frau keinen Leute
Gen. des Mann des Kind der Frau der Leute
eines Mann eines Kind einer Frau - Leute
keines Mann keines Kind keiner Frau keiner Leute

The Zero Article

Sometimes, in certain expression, the noun is used without any article at all:
In German, there is no article when used with:
  • Proper names
  • Occupations
  • Nationalities
  • Cities, (most) countries, continents
  • Abstract ideas (sometimes)
  • Materials (sometimes)
  • Set phrases/idiomatic expressions
  • Headlines and titles