German Indefinite Article with Video

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The Indefinite Article

What is an indefinite article?

The indefinite article in English is the word a which changes into an if the following word starts with a vowel. In the plural we say either some, any or nothing at all.

For example:
I’d like a beer.
We’d like an orange juice.
Here are some napkins.

The indefinite article in German is ein. However ein can change to eine depending on whether the noun it’s used with is masculine, feminine or neuter. There is no plural form of the indefinite article in the German language. Here is a table that shows which version you use for which gender:

 

Table: Indefinite article

Masculine Nouns Feminine Nouns Neuter Nouns
Singular ein eine ein
Plural

  • The article ein is used with masculine and neuter nouns:
  • der Kellner ⇨ ein Kellner – a waiter
    das Eis ⇨ ein Eis – an ice cream

  • The article eine is used with feminine nouns:

    die Tasse ⇨ eine Tasse – a cup.

Tip

The indefinite article in German is used very much as it is in English which keeps things simple.

You can now learn even more on this topic with the help of a fun animation and a grammar quiz. Simply check out our Restaurant Lesson in level A1.

 

 

A Few Exceptions

In certain situations you do not use the indefinite article:

  • When talking about someone’s religion:
    Er ist Jude. ⇨ He’s a Jew.
  • When talking about someone’s nationality:

    Sie ist Italienerin. ⇨ She’s (an) Italian.
  • When talking about the job someone does:
    Sie ist Lehrerin. ⇨ She’s a teacher.
  • When talking about someone’s political view:
    Er ist Sozialist. ⇨ He’s a socialist.

Note: The indefinite article is used in all four examples above when an adjective comes before the noun.

For example:
Er ist ein gläubiger Jude. ⇨ He’s a faithful Jew.
Sie ist eine hübsche Italienerin. ⇨ She’s a pretty Italian.
Sie ist eine nette Lehrerin. ⇨ She’s a nice teacher.
Er ist ein junger Sozialist. ⇨ He’s a young socialist.

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  1. senseandnonsense says:

    Concise and helpful!

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