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Learn German Online - An Online German Course for Beginners and Intermediate Learners
Lesson 7: Shopping and Clothing

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The indefinite article (ein, eine, einen)

The indefinite articles in English are 'a' or 'an'. You use the indefinite article when you talk about people or things in general, without meaning a particular person or object. For example you would say "I went to see a movie yesterday." but you would not say "I went to see the movie yesterday" unless the person you are talking to knows exactly what movie you are talking about.

In German, the indefinite article, as well as the definite article depends on the gender of its noun. You remember that the German definite articles are 'der', 'die' and 'das' for masculine, feminine and neuter nouns, respectively. Furthermore, 'der' changes to 'den' in the accusative case, i.e. when it is part of the direct object of the sentence or a direction of a movement:
casemasculinefeminineneuter
nominative der die das
accusative den die das

The indefinite article is just as simple as that. We use 'ein' for masculine and neuter nouns, and 'eine' for feminine nouns. Also, 'ein' changes to 'einen', if the noun is masculine and in the accusative case (direct object or direction):
casemasculinefeminineneuter
nominative ein eine ein
accusative einen eine ein

As you can see, the old rule from lesson 4 page 6 about the accusative is still valid and we can now extend it to the indefinite articles:
RULE: The accusative is only visible, if it is formed on masculine nouns. In that case, the definite article 'der' changes to 'den' and the indefinite article 'ein' changes to 'einen'. Thus, the accusative of feminine and neuter nouns is NOT distinguishable from their nominative forms.


The Shopping Mall Centro O' in Oberhausen.

We will now repeat the sentences on the previous page that contained an indefinite article and then use our new knowledge to guess the gender of the new nouns that these articles are used with.

1) Ich möchte eine neue Jacke kaufen.
Since 'eine' is only used with feminine nouns, 'Jacke' has to be feminine (die Jacke).

2) Ich brauche nämlich einen neuen Anorak.
'einen' indicates the accusative (direct object; What do I need? A new anorak!). The accusative only affects masculine nouns (see above rule), thus 'Anorak' has to be masculine (der Anorak).

Peace of cake, isn't it? If you were able to deal with the definite articles, which you have mastered great so far, using the indefinite articles won't be any problem for you.


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pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12        vocabularies       Exercises [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]

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