How many types of articles are there

definite / indefinite article in German


We mostly use German nouns items. On the article we recognize gender (masculine, feminine, neutral), number (singular, plural) and case (nominative, accusative, dative, genitive).

There are indefinite articles (an) and certain articles (that, that, that). Find out here when we use which article and test your knowledge in the exercises.


Indefinite article

Indefinite articles are a(masculine, neutral) and a(feminine). We use the indefinite article:

  • when we speak of something that is not specified
    Lena is a Girlfriend of lara. (one of several)
  • when we mention something for the first time in a text (introductory)
    Lena has a Bought ice cream.

Definite article

Certain articles are the(masculine),the(feminine / plural) and the(neutral). We use the definite article:

  • when we speak of something in particular
    Lena is the Friend of Franz (the only one - they are a couple)
  • if we have already mentioned something or assume it is known
    The She likes ice cream very much.

Declination of definite / indefinite articles

Articles and prepositions

If there is a preposition before a certain article, both are often combined into one word. This applies to the following prepositions and articles:

No items

We don't usually use an item for:

  • Place names
    they live in Bremen.
  • most country names (except e.g. Switzerland, Turkey, USA)
    We are on vacation in Austria.
    (but: We are on vacation in Switzerland.)
  • Equations with the verbs will be
    It is July.
    My brother wants doctor become.
  • certain specific skills
    I play piano/tennis.
    Leo speaks Japanese.
  • Materials / substances (e.g. paper, wood, water, milk, iron), but only in a general context (if we are talking about something specific, an article must be included.)
    paper will be out Wood produced.
    We still have to water to buy.
    (but:The paper is all./Where is the wood for the fireplace?)

Negative article »no«

The negative article no is declined in the same way as the indefinite article a.

This is a Ice. → That is no Ice.
Franz has a Girlfriend. → Franz has no Girlfriend.

To distinguish from no and Not, see sentence structure → negative.