Difference between ‘das’, ‘der’, ‘die’ and ‘den’ in the German language

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Difference between das der die and den in the German language

‘das’, ‘der’, ‘die’ and ‘den’, they all mean “the” in the German language for German words are masculine, feminine, or neuter, not always with clear reason. So, while Germans have “die Banane”, “das Bier”, and “der Furtz”, we have the banana, the beer, and the fart. What makes a banana “feminine” and a fart “masculine”? Nothing in particular as far as I’ve been able to tell. You just have to know the right form of “the” when learning vocabulary.

“Den” replaces “der” in situations with a direct object. So while “Der Furtz smelled really bad,” you’d say “I gave den Furtz to my girlfriend.”

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Difference between ‘das’, ‘der’, ‘die’ and ‘den’ in the German language

“Die” is feminine, “Der” masculine and “das” neutral. Even though the native speaker and know with ones to use instinctively, they can’t really tell you which ones are used when, sorry. For example “the girl” translated to “das Mädchen”, which is a neutral article. In fact, even native speakers can get in trouble with that when there are words like “Nutella”, for which you can use more than one article.

The only thing for sure is that Germans love to fusion words, e.g. the magazine in which you find the TV programme becomes a “Fernsehzeitung”, made out of “Fernsehen” for TV (or, as a verb, watching TV) and “Zeitung” which means magazine or newspaper. In such cases you use the article for the last part of the world:

Das Fernsehen + Die Zeitung = Die Fernsehzeitung

“Die”, though, is the article for anything plural as well. E.g. it’s “der Hund”, but the plural form is “die Hunde”. Or “das Haus” and “die Häuser”.

Now, with “den” things get even more complicated.

In German we have so-called “Fälle”.

The first Fall is the Nominativ.

Here you use the articles I explained above. To find out if your subject is in the Nominativ you ask “Who or what?” (In German: “Wer oder Was?”)

For example: “I am hungry.” → “Who or what is hungry?” → “I am.”

Or: “The team won the competition.” →“Who or what won the competition?” → “The team.”

The second Fall is the Genitiv.

It is used to explain whom something belongs to. Okay, and here it starts to get complicated with the articles:

“Die” becomes “Der”

For example: “I got help from the women.”

The women translated into “die Frauen”.

But since the sentence tells me whose (“wessen”) help I got “die” becomes “der” and the sentence becomes:

“Ich bekam die Hilfe der Frauen.”

“Whose help?” → “The women’s help.”

This applies for plural forms as well.

Now, let’s say you got help from a man.

“The man” translates as “der Mann”.

But in the Genitiv, “der” becomes “des”.

“Ich bekam die Hilfe des Mannes.”

Now, last option: Let’s say you got help from a child; “the child” translates as “das Kind”. In this case, you use “des” as well.

“Ich bekam die Hilfe des Kindes.”

Careful: The noun is changed as well, but I won’t go into detail about that here.

The third fall. Dativ.

To explain the Dativ, we’ll just reserve what happens above: If it wasn’t that you received the help “des Kindes”, but you helped the child.

“I helped the child” translates as “Ich half dem Kind.” (“das” → “dem”)

“I helped the woman” becomes “Ich half der Frau.” (“die” → “der”)

“I helped the man” is “I half dem Mann.”

Here, you ask “Whom?” (Wem?)

Whom did I help? The Man.

And, last but not least, the fourth Fall. The Akkusativ.

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