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German: Grammar > Nouns

German nouns are classified in Genders, either masculine, feminine, or neuter. These genders do not correspond to the physical state of an object, i.e. the word "girl" for example belongs to the neuter class.

German is one of the European languages which still uses cases, meaning a noun can basically play four different roles in a sentence. The case of the nouns impacts articles, adjectives, and the was sentences are build:

The nominative is the subject in a sentece, i.e. The boy is in the garden..
The genitive expresses "from whom" or "by whom", i.e. The manager of the company.
The dative expresses "to whom", i.e. I give her a present.
The accusative is the object in a sentece, i.e. The boy is in the garden..

As in English, German possesses both an indefinite article (a/an in English) and a definite article (the in English).

The indefinite article:
The indefinite article in German depends on the gender and case which applies. The matrix below illustrates the German indefinite articles:

Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative ein eine ein
Genetive eines einer eines
Dative einem einer einem
Accusative einen eine ein

The definite article:
As with indefinite articles, each definite article has a gender and a case depending on which definite article should be used. In the matrix below, the German definite articles are illustrated:

Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative der die das
Genetive des der des
Dative dem der dem
Accusative den die das

Both definite and indefinite articles are placed in front of the noun as a separate word. Furthermore, the classification of nouns (masculine, feminine, neuter) does not always have to correspond to the actual gender of the subject. The word Mädchen (=girl), for example, is a noun of the neuter category. Best is you learn every noun with the definite article when you come across it. For example:

German English German English
Mann. Man. Der Mann. The man.
Frau. Woman. Die Frau The woman.
Tisch. Table. Der Tisch. The table.
Mädchen. Girl. Das Mädchen. The girl.
Gast. Guests. Die Gäste. The guests.
Land. Country. Das Land. The country.

Note: nouns are always capitalised.

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