Who's in Charge of Der, Die, Das? Me vs. the German Articles

I won’t be stating anything revolutionary or surprising when I say that the articles are probably the most difficult thing about the German language. They are a real nightmare for all keen learners of this wonderful language. Well, at least I think this language is fantastic, I know it’s a controversial point and many people won’t agree here, but most people who have learned enough of it to understand and communicate freely will admit that there’s something special about it. But never mind, this is not the topic of this post anyway.

The point is that articles seem to get more difficult the longer you have been learning German. I don’t know about you fellow students of German out there, but I think I have arrived at a point where my head can no longer absorb any more knowledge concerning articles. I have been learning German for 9 years now and have spent more than 2 years in Germany so far, and yet I still keep confusing some articles. What makes me really depressed, however, is the fact that I repeatedly get most of them wrong despite desperate attempts to memorize them once and for all.

Funnily enough, I don’t usually have problems with the feminine. It’s the masculine and neuter that I constantly confuse. The safest way to avoid this kind of article trap is to build sentences where the confusing noun is in the dative case :D.

But anyway, there’s another issue that has been bothering me for a while. With so many words entering the German language every day that are borrowed from English, who’s in charge of ‘giving’ them articles? I mean, I know there are language councils, publishing houses etc. who officially deal with language but they tend to be too slow! The living language is changing so quickly that such decisions are needed instantly and so are made by the speakers themselves. However, even Germans are confused sometimes. I had a discussion with some German friends about a few words from the realm of computers and they were uncertain if the word ‘App’ (as in iPhone app) is feminine or neuter. The fact that the full word would be ‘die Applikation’ would suggest feminine, but somehow they felt that the shortened version ‘feels good’ to be neuter. The official Apple store, however, decided to use ‘die App’. That’s how attempts to normalize the language using some “rules” native speakers make up themselves means we end up having no definite answer at all.

I also asked them about Messenger and Facebook, they decided that it’s ‘der Messenger’ and ‘das Facebook’ (they were very reluctant to decide on anything in the case of fb, though). I wonder if it’s because of ‘der Bote’ and ‘das Gesichtsbuch’? 😀


You might also like: