German offers its speakers three genders which are used for all nouns. After reading this article, you will know when to use “der, die, das” and “ein, eine”.
During the last centuries, the English language has developed itself away from the roots which it shares with German and Dutch and therefore there is no real relevance to the gender of a noun. Still, one can find a leftover of it, which means, that we normally would refer to a male as he, a female as she and everything else that does not have a heartbeat or is an animal like it.
When you study German, you can totally forget this concept as we separate the nouns in the three genders male (der), female (die) and neutral (das) and mark them as such while in English all nouns are “the”.
The gender of a German noun does not necessarily need to be logical and therefore a table is male (der Tisch), a lamp is female (die Lampe) and the bed is neutral (das Bett) but it can be said that in general, a male person is “der” and a female person is “die”. You can find more information about how to find out the gender of a noun in the article “When to use “der, die or das” in German”.
In German, we differentiate the articles between definite (like “the” in English) and indefinite (like “a” or “an” in English).
As like as the English “the”, we use definite articles if we speak about something specific or something that has already been mentioned. Therefore we use the following four articles:
|male||der Mann||the man|
|female||die Frau||the woman|
|neutral||das Kind||the child|
|plural||die Autos||the cars|
Also, we have indefinite articles like the English “a” or respectively “an” which are being used when we refer to something in general that is not specific or was not mentioned before. We use it as follows:
|male||ein Mann||a man|
|female||eine Frau||a woman|
|neutral||ein Kind||a child|
|plural||/ Autos||/ cars|
As you can see in the two explanations above, the idea of “the” and “a” also exists in German but in contrast to English, you need to study three genders and therefore it is always recommended to study new nouns with their gender and their plural form in order to make your life easier.
Now you should have understood the idea of “der, die, das” and “ein, eine” and be able to choose which one to use at the right time.