Definite Articles - Nominative (1. case)

German nouns are mostly accompanied by articles. An article always stands before anoun. The article always has the same gender (masculine, feminine or neuter), the same case (nominative, genitive, dative or accusative) and the same number (singular or plural) as the noun which it accompanies. A definite article always refers to something which has already been identified or has been mentioned before, so to something which is well-known or unique, for example a river or a mountain. It can be a person or a thing.


Here are the definite articles in the first case (nominative):

Singular Forms Definite Article (with Noun) Phonetic Script English Translation
masculine der (Mann m) [de:ɐ] the (man)
feminine die (Frau f) [di:] the (woman)
neuter das (Kind nt) [das] the (child)
Plural Forms Definite Article (with Noun) Phonetic Script English Translation
masculine   (Männer m pl)   the (men)
feminine die (Frauen f pl) [di:] the (women)
neuter   (Kinder nt pl)   the (children)

As you can see, there is only one plural form of the definite article ("die") for every noun, no matter if it is masculine, feminine or neuter.


The subject of a sentence always stands in the nominative

The nominative is the first case. We use the nominative form of an article whenever the noun which is accompanied represents the subject of the sentence. The subject is the acting part of the sentence which the predicate (the conjugated form of the verb) refers to.

Here is an example:

German Phonetic Script English
Die Frau f spricht Deutsch. [di: frau ʃprɪçt dɔytʃ] The woman speaks German.

In this sentence, "Frau" is the noun in the nominative case. As I have already explained, it is the acting part of the sentence.

If you ask for the subject of the example sentence, you ask: Who (is doing something)? The answer in this case would be: The woman (is doing something), namely the woman speaks German.