German grammar is one of those things that are steeped in misinformation and mystery. It is not nearly as complicated as some have made it out to be. In this post, I’m going to share a few of the basics of German grammar. Hopefully this will help improve your understanding of the language and help you in your studies.
Articles and genders
German uses three different definite articles: “der”, “die” and “das”. All of them are translated as “the” in English. The indefinite articles are “ein”, “eine” and “ein”, which are translated as “a” in English.
When learning new words, you should always make sure you know the articles as well. The genders of articles can be found in every dictionary: If there is an (m) behind the word it means “masculine” and you have to use the article “der”; an (f) stands for a feminine word and the corresponding article is “die”; an (nt) stands for “neuter” and the article to be used here is “das”.
The plural forms for ALL articles is “die” (for example: das Kind, die Kinder = the child, the children).
Singular and plural forms of words
Whenever you look for a noun in a German dictionary, you will find the plural forms as well. This is because there is no rule of thumb on how to form plural forms of German nouns – the only way to know them is to learn them. You will find nouns written down this way: Banane(n) (banana) – the singular form is “Banane” and the plural form would be “Bananen”.
Case system of German grammar
German grammar uses a case system, which will be explained very briefly here. There are four cases: The nominative case, the accusative case, the dative case and the genitive case (which won’t be explained here).
The nominative case: It is used to talk about the subject of the sentence and grammatically speaking the easiest one! The articles here are the same as the ones you can look up in the dictionary:
Der Bahnhof ist alt. (The train station is old)
The accusative case: It is used to talk about the direct object of the sentence and here the articles change in the following way if they are used with the direct object:
DER goes to DEN
DIE stays DIE
DAS stays DAS
DIE (pl.) stays DIE
Ich essen DEN Apfel. (I eat the apple)
The dative case: It is used to talk about the indirect subject of the sentence or when talking about the position or location of something and the articles change in the following way:
DER goes to DEM
DIE goes to DER
DAS goes to DEM
DIE (pl.) goes to DEN
Der Bahnhof ist in DER Stadt. (The train station is in the city)
Of course, I could go much more in-depth, but I’m not going to in this post. My mission here was to provide you with some of the very basics of German grammar in order to help you better learn and speak the language – not to bore you with a 500-page book of rules. Click here to see the software for learning German.