The two articles and other determiners

Determiners usually precede nouns. The most important ones are the definite article, such as der, die etc. corresponding to ‘the’, and the indefinite article, such as ein, eine etc. corresponding to ‘a’. Other determiners include:

• possessives such as mein ‘my’, dein ‘your’, etc.
• demonstratives such as dieser ‘this’
• indefinites such as alle ‘all’/‘everybody’.

Importance of determiners in German

Determiners signal various aspects of the noun Determiners play an important role in German as they indicate whether a noun is masculine, feminine or neuter and if the noun is in the singular or plural form. Furthermore, determiners signal the grammatical function of a noun in a sentence (if it is the subject, direct object etc.).

How determiners can change,Look at the following examples with the definite article:

Der Manager hat in Washington studiert.
(masc., sing., subject = nominative)

Kennst du den Manager?
(masc., sing., direct object = accusative)

Was gibt er dem Manager?
(masc., sing., indirect object = dative)

As you can see, the definite article changes in accordance with the gender, number and case of the noun it is linked to. This process is called declension. In the following sections the main determiners and their declension pattern are shown in more detail.