German articles

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German articles are similar in most respects to English articles. However, they are declined differently according to the number, gender, and case of their nouns.


The inflected forms depend on the number, the case and the gender of the corresponding noun. Articles have the same plural forms for all three genders.

Indefinite article (mixed)
  Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative - - -e -e
Accusative -en - -e -e
Dative -em -em -er -en
Genitive -es -es -er -er
  • This table declines the indefinite article (mixed) (ein-), the negative indefinite article (mixed) (kein-), and the possessive pronouns (mixed) (mein-, dein-, sein-, ihr-, unser-, euer/eur-).
  • The indefinite article does not have a specific plural form (like English, but unlike Italian); there are several article words for this need. In most cases, however, these plural forms are left out. This is quite similar to English.
Definite article (strong)
  Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative der das die die
Accusative den das die die
Dative dem dem der den
Genitive des des der der
Definite article endings (strong)
  Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
Nominative -er -es -e -e
Accusative -en -es -e -e
Dative -em -em -er -en
Genitive -es -es -er -er
  • Note that this is essentially the same as the indefinite article table, but with the masculine nominative -er and the neuter nominative and accusative -es.
  • This table declines the demonstrative pronouns (dies-, jen-) (this, that; strong) and the relative pronoun (welch-) (which; strong)

Possessive "article-like" pronouns

Under some circumstances (e.g. in a relative clause) the regular possessive pronouns are replaced by the genitive forms of the pronouns derived from the definite article. They agree in number and gender with the possessor. Unlike other pronouns they carry no strength. Any adjective following them in the phrase will carry the strong endings.

There are possessive pronouns derived from the definite article and derived from the interrogative article. They have the same forms for all cases of the possessed word, but they are only rarely used in the genitive case.

Definite possessive [of the] (mixed)

  • Masculine: dessen
  • Neuter: dessen
  • Feminine: deren
  • Plural: deren

Interrogative possessive [of what] (mixed)

  • Masculine: wessen
  • Neuter: wessen
  • Feminine: wessen
  • Plural: wessen
NOT: Die Soldaten dessen Armee

Up until the 18th century, a genitive noun was often used instead of a possessive pronoun. This is occasionally found in very literary modern German, and sometimes hence used for facetious effect.

OLD: "Des Königs Krone" (The king's crown)
(MODERN: "Die Krone des Königs" - BUT: "Die Königskrone" (compound noun))

These pronouns are used if using the ordinary possessive pronoun is understood reflexively, or there are several possessors.


  1. Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod


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