https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Julika

Use of the definite article in English versus German

There is a tendency to use the definite article "the" less often in front of nouns in English than in German. This reflects, maybe, that English speakers like to keep it simpler than German ones. In English, the definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular. The signals that the noun is definite, that it refers to a particular member of a group. In German, it is also used when the noun is not that particular. E.g. You'd say "Winter is coming" and in German "Der Winter kommt", but not "Winter kommt" (which would sound simply incomplete and wrong in German).

March 2, 2012

5 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mrplatts

Also, Germans sometimes use a definite article in front of a person's name which sounds very odd to an English speaker.

Kommt der Martin heute?

May 21, 2012

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaxx2009

I believe portuguese does also.

May 31, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/P.Crespi

Not in the northern parts of Germany though.

August 11, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/junair

yes, to express that he is "our" Martin

October 13, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/siebolt

German is not the only language to do so.(Italian) It indicates familiarity.

July 26, 2012
Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.