A mnemonic exercise to help remember article declension
Hi there folks! Been practicing German on Duolingo for a while now, and I have often been running into trouble when it comes to remembering how to decline my articles (der, die, das, den, dem, des...). Thinking about how a simple mnemonic might help, I thought of this:
So if we lay out our definite articles, we have (in Masc, Fem, Neu, Plu order): Nominative: Der, Die, Das, Die Accusative: Den, Die, Das, Die Dative: Dem, Der, Dem, Den Genitive: Des, Der, Des, Der
We then take the last letter of each article, so we have: Nom: R, E, S, E Acc: N, E, S, E Dat: M, R, M, N Gen: S, R, S, R
From here we can build mnemonic words based on these, for example: Nom: Reese Acc: Nessie Dat: Merman Gen: Sorcerer
Lately when I try to remember my direct articles, I visualise a wacky narrative like this to help it stick to my memory better: Reese watches Nessie devour a Merman, then fights off a Sorcerer.
The more ridiculous the narrative, the better it'll stick.
Thanks for reading folks, I hope this might be useful to some of you!
That feels convoluted.
This is how I learned it and I have no problems with it. I don't even need to think about it anymore. How declension works in German makes a lot of sense, if you learned it the way I explain down below, you'll see that it does.
All cases of definite articles: all plurals, dative, and genitive cases are -n. So you only need to worry about the nominative and accusative. Since der, die, das are shown in the nominative they are all -e, because they show their original gender. Now, since only the masculine changes it's definite article in accusative to den, you need to show the change on the adjective: Ich sehe den schwarzen Hund. Since plurals don't have have a normal article like masculine, feminine, and neuter in any case, it will always be -en. All of the definite articles in dative and genitive are not the original, that's why both cases always have -en.
Now with the indefinite articles, this is where it gets a little confusing. Since ein doesn't have an ending in the masculine and neuter in the nominative cases, you must show the gender on the adjective with -er and -es respectively. Also, -es for neuter in the accusative case. All of the plural endings for the adjectives will be -en, the same with dative and genitive. Ein endings follow the ending of the definite articles. Feminine in both accusative and nominative receive -e. If you're confused look here.
Now if there is no article and it's just the adjective itself, then it gets the endings like it would with the definite article: der - er, die - -e. The only exception is the masculine and neuter in genitive, and plural in dative and genitive.
TL;DR: If the definitive and indefinite articles don't show the original gender for its case, then you need to show the gender for the noun with the adjective.
But Nessie is freshwater and mermen are saltwater! I guess that's what makes it ridiculous. Seriously, that is a good idea!
I ended up just singing them in the world's worst song:
der die das die den die das die des der des der dem der dem den
Somehow singing makes it stick for me. Sing it to your friends until they hate you!
What I hate is some grammer books list them: nom, acc, dat and gen,
and then some do: nom, acc, gen, and dat
Of course when I am talking to a German person I usually just panic and pick one at random. They may wince but they understand, manchmal.
I seem to remember at one time learning a lot of guidelines for guessing what nouns are which gender and I can't remember any of them. I think you just eventually stick the right article on after a while after you use it/see it in a sentence.