The articles (der, ein, kein) change form (are declined) depending on the gender, case and number.
The definite article is used in German (just like in English) when we refer to a particular object.
Let’s look at two example phrases:
The (female) teacher reads
Die Lehrerin liest
A (female) teacher reads
Eine Lehrerin liest
There is a slight difference in meaning. In the first case, the teacher is known or relevant. In the second, the teacher is not known or irrelevant.
The definite article (der, die, das,…) does not have an equivalent in English. We simply use "the" for any gender, case and number. It is very important to learn this table.
The definite articles are contracted with prepositions in these cases:
an + das = ans, an + dem = am, auf + das = aufs, bei + dem = beim, durch + das = durchs, für + das = fürs, in + das = ins, in + dem = im, um + das = ums, von + dem = vom, zu + der = zur, zu + dem = zum
This is the equivalent of the English article "a" or "an".
|Nominative||ein (a)||eine (a)||ein||--|
In German, "einige" (some) is sometimes used to refer to an indefinite number of objects (plural).
In an informal setting it is common to contract the indefinite article ein to ‘n:
Ich habe 'ne Wohnung
Ich habe ne Wohnung
Ich habe eine Wohnung
I have an apartment
More info at the apostrophe in German
Pronouns often accompany a noun (attributive function):
Mein Hund ist alt
My dog is old
which makes them behave like articles.
Pronouns that behave like articles are called attributive pronouns.
Definite articles, indefinite articles and pronouns with an attributive function are called determiners (Artikelwort).
For practical purposes, often, when a pronoun acts like a normal pronoun or like a determiner, there is no difference. They have the same declension and if we want to be practical, we don’t need to worry about them.
We just have to pay attention to whether the determiner is:
Given that the declension is different depending on it being a determiner or not.
A beautiful song to supplement this lesson is "Schaurig Traurig" (terrible sadness). It’s quite easy to understand with the subtitles in German.
We hope you like it.
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