Frequencies of Definite Articles in Written vs Spoken German

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2024-07-09 11:00:01

Unlike a single “the” in the English language, the German language has 6 definite articles that are used based on a noun’s gender, case and number:

Importantly, native speakers don’t look at such tables while learning German as a child. They internalize the rules through exposure and practice.

If you are learning German as a second language, however, you will most likely spend time writing down these tables and memorizing them.

While learning, you will also memorize the genders of nouns. For example, “der Tisch” (the table) is masculine, “die Tür” (the door) is feminine, and “das Buch” (the book) is neuter. Whereas predicting the case and number is straightforward and can be deduced from the context of the sentence, predicting the gender might be much more difficult.

Without going into much details, take my word for now that the genders are semi-random. Inanimate objects such as a bus can be a “he” or “she”, whereas animate objects such as a “girl” can be a “it”.

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