27 Section 3-3

3-3: Der-words vs. ein-words

In Chapter 1, you learned how to distinguish between the definite article (der/die/das) and the indefinite article (ein/eine).

                Masculine: der Pulli→ein Pulli

                Feminine: die Bluse→eine Bluse

                Neuter: das T-shirt→ein T-shirt

Note that neither masculine nor neuter add any endings for ein-words. This also applies to possessive adjectives.

                Masculine: der Bikiniihr Bikini (no ending)

                Feminine: die Mütze→seine Mütze (adds –e)

                Neuter: das Hemd→mein Hemd (no ending)

                Plural: die Schuhe→deine Schuhe (adds –e)

In Chapter 2, you continued by adding the accusative case definite and indefinite endings.

Review: The accusative case is used for direct objects. The only thing that changes is masculine, which adds an extra –en to the definite or indefinite article.


             Masculine: Ich habe einen Cousin.

             Feminine: Wir besuchen unsere Nichte.

             Neuter: Er kennt mein Kind.

             Plural: Die Arbeiter produzieren die Sandalen.

You have learned all of the ein-words so far, i.e., words that have the same pattern of endings as “ein/eine.”


⇒NEU: There are a few more words that follow the same pattern as the definite article (der/die/das/den). They are listed below with a dash after them to show where the new ending will go.


  • Look at the definite article. Ex. der See (the lake)
  • Put the letters you see at the end of it on the new der-word.
  • dieser See (this lake)

Examples with dies– in the nominative case:

         Masculine: der Anzug→dieser Anzug (this suit)

         Feminine: die Jackediese Jacke (this jacket)

         Neuter: das Kleid→dieses Kleid (this dress)

         Plural: die Kleider→diese Kleider (these dresses)

Examples with jed– in the nominative case:

         Masculine: der Baum→jeder Baum (every tree)

         Feminine: die Universität→jede Universität (every university)

         Neuter: das Dorf→jedes Dorf (every village)

Examples with welch– in the nominative case:

         Masculine: der Hut→welcher Hut (which hat)

         Feminine: die Jeans→welche Jeans (which jeans)

         Neuter: das Kino→welches Kino (which movie theater)

         Plural: die Zeitungen→welche Zeitungen (which newspapers)


In short, dies-, jed-, welch-, and all– will have the exact same ending as whatever der/die/das/den has.

HOWEVERall– will usually be plural.

                Beispiel: Alle Studenten haben Hausaufgaben.

WHY? Because it would sound really strange to say, “All Student have homework.”


Video. Click to see me reteaching der-words vs. ein-words.

Ex. A: Welcher Anzug ist lila? Using the pictures below, ask a partner several questions.

          Beispiel: Pulli, gelb

                 A: Welcher Anzug ist lila?

                 B: Dieser Anzug ist lila. →Person in purple suit.


Lady with yellow sweater and pink skirt.Little Red Riding Hood in red dress.Green alligator in purple suit jacket and black skirt.Woman in orange t-shirt, yellow skirt, and brown boots.Woman in purple dress.Woman in green shirt, green shorts, and grey shoes.Woman in orange, blue, purple, yellow, and green dress.Penguin wearing red Santa hat, and yellow, orange, blue, purple, and pink lei and grass skirt.Woman wearing red hat, grey scarf, red sweater, orange skirt, and orange leggings.Man wearing purple suit and brown shoes.Man wearing a brown hat, brown suit, and brown shoes.Man wearing black glasses, a red shirt with a bear on it, black pants, and red shoes.A zombie wearing a grey shirt, a yellow t-shirt, blue jeans, and black shoes.Woman wearing purple two-piece bathing suit.Man wearing black sunglasses, a black suit, and black shoes.Woman wearing white t-shirt, black jacket, red pants, and black shoes.Boy wearing yellow shirt, blue pants, and orange and grey tennis shoes.Woman wearing purple and red hat, red scarf, green and yellow coat, pink gloves, orange striped leggings, and blue shoes.Man wearing a white t-shirt, black shirt, blue jeans, and black boots.

Ex. B: Welches Buch ist mein Buch? With your classmates, practice switching between der-words and ein-words by pointing out which items belong to you.

             A: Welches Buch ist dein Buch?

             B: Dieses Buch ist mein Buch. (Pointing to book.)

When you run out of your own items, swap to classroom items and ask what belongs to us.

            A: Welcher Tisch ist unser Tisch?

            B: Dieser Tisch ist unser Tisch?

(Yes, I realize this exercise sounds sort of like two toddlers learning to talk, but we have to start simple!)

Ex. C: Welche Studentin studiert Geschichte? Who among your classmates is mentioned in these questions? If more than one student satisfies the answers, feel free to answer in the plural.

       Beispiel: Welche Studentin studiert Geschichte?

                   →Diese Studentin studiert Geschichte. (point to student)


                   →Diese Studentinnen studieren Geschichte.

  1. Welcher Student lernt Spanisch?
  2. Welcher Student spielt Fußball?
  3. Welcher Student spielt gern Videospiele?
  4. Welche Studentin singt gern?
  5. Welche Studentin schreibt gern Gedichte?
  6. Welcher Student liest gern Comichefte?
  7. Welcher Student macht gern Hausaufgaben?
  8. Welche Studentin wohnt in Amerika?
  9. Welcher Student schwimmt nicht gern?
  10. Welche Studentin kocht nicht gern?
  11. Welcher Student wandert am Wochenende?
  12. Welche Studentin arbeitet zu viel?
  13. Welcher Student schläft nicht genug?
  14. Welcher Student hat heute Deutsch?
  15. Welche Studentin macht gern Sport?

Die Tiere


1                           2                        3                           4                    5

Pig Hedgehog Dolphin Lion Tiger

6                          7                                       8                           9                       10

Snake Ant

11                                 12

Ex. D: Jede Ameise ist fleißig! Using the animal vocabulary and jed-/alle, make generalizations. Feel free to use adjectives, verbs, or any other words you’ve learned so far. If you disagree with your classmates’ answers, argue your point in German!

      Beispiel: Ameise

              A: Jede Ameise ist fleißig. Jede Ameise arbeitet.

              B: Nein, alle Ameisen nerven.

  1. Igel
  2. Hund
  3. Katze
  4. Pferd
  5. Tiger
  6. Löwe
  7. Delphin
  8. Schwein
  9. Vogel
  10. Kuh
  11. Schlange

Video. Now that you know some of the sounds that animals make, feel free to watch the group Heidis Küken’s song Das kleine Küken piept. Lyrics are in the link below the video.

Songtext: https://www.karaoke-lyrics.net/lyrics/heidis-kuken/das-kleine-kuken-piept-565165.

Video. Click to watch Easy German’s video about dogs.


Other der-words that have grown somewhat obsolete:

So far, you have been using dies-, jed-, welch-, and all- as der-words. There are a few more that function the same way, but they have been used less often over the past thirty years than previously.

  • manch- many (a):   Manche Kinder lernen Deutsch.
  • jen- that:   Jene Professorin geht nach Hause.
  • solch- such:   Solche Studenten arbeiten nicht.

Like all-, manch– and solch– are most often used in the plural forms

For now, it will be fine just to recognize them when you see them. You will see them more often in older texts, such as fairy tales or older German literature.

Ex. E: Wie finden Sie diesen Gürtel? Ask your classmates their opinion of the following clothing items. Don’t forget that any direct objects must be in the accusative case, i.e. masculine adds an extra –en.

Beispiel: Belt

              A: Wie findest du diesen Gürtel?

              B: Ich finde ihn altmodisch.

              A: Ich finde ihn aber schick!

  1. Black top hat                                 5. Green shirt
  2.  Blue and yellow tennis shoes                         6. Blue and Red 3D glasses.
  3. Blue jeans                                   7. A black suit
  4. Purple and green socks                         8. A pink floral dress

Ex. F: Gib mir diesen Kuli! Ask your partner to either give you specific items, geben, or to show you certain items, zeigen. This exercise combines both imperative and dies-. If you want every item of that sort, use jed– instead! Don’t forget that direct objects should be in the accusative case, i.e., masculine gets an extra –en.

     Beispiel: pen, paper

           A: Gib mir diesen Kuli. (Give me this pen.)

           B: Bitte schön. (Here you go.)

           B: Zeig mir dieses Papier. (Show me this paper.)

           A: Bitte schön. (Here you go.)

  1. poster
  2. map
  3. mouse
  4. book
  5. table
  6. chair
  7. window
  8. clock
  9. backpack

Ex. G: Nominativ vs Akkusativ. Complete the following exercises, using both der- and ein-words. You will first need to determine whether the word is in the nominative or accusative case.  Fill in the blanks with the correct form of “dies-“.

       1. ________ Student wohnt in der Schillerstraße.

       2. Der Tourist kauft _________ Buch über die Schweiz.

       3. Wir verkaufen ______________ Auto nicht.

       4. __________ Universität ist sehr alt.

       5. __________Politiker sprechen mit uns.

       6. Die Polizei hat _______________ Mann verhaftet (arrested).

Rewrite each sentence, replacing the word in bold print with the new words. Watch out; der-words and ein-words are mixed together.

       7. Ich lese dein Buch.

                           a. dies-

                           b. sein-

                           c. euer-

       8. Die Studentin parkt das Auto.

                           a. dies-

                           b. jed-

                           c. ein

       9. Der Bus ist pünktlich.

                           a. kein-

                           b. dies-

                           c. jed-

Rewrite each sentence, replacing the word in bold print with the noun in parenthesis, making any necessary changes to the der– or ein-word.

       10. Jeder Schüler muss vorsichtig sein.

         a. Studentin

         b. Tourist

         c. Krankenschwester

       11. Welches Kind steht an der Ecke?

                         a. Lehrerin

                         b. Hund

                         c. Professorinnen

       12. _________ Mann und ich gehen gern ins Kino. (mein-)

       13. Wir können hier nicht parken, denn _________ Parkplatz ist zu eng. (dies-)

       14. _________ Tochter meinst du? Katja oder Jana? (welch-)

       15. _________ Film hast du im Kino geguckt? Star Wars oder Star Trek? (welch-)


Ex. H: Was soll ich kaufen? Tell your partner which option to choose (or not to choose!). Because these will be commands, you will need to use the imperative. Make sure that your direct object is in the accusative case. Remember, nicht will go AFTER the direct object and in front of prepositional phrases. Add one or two sentences after your command to explain why your partner should or should not choose this option.

          Beispiel: kaufen Grey jacket Yellow and black jacket

                  A: Kauf diese Jacke! (points to yellow jacket)

                  B: Aber warum denn?

                  A: Sie ist neu.


                 A: Kauf diese Jacke nicht! (points to gray jacket)

                 B: Aber warum denn nicht?

                 A: Sie ist zu alt.

  1. tragen Light blue tennis shoes       Brown dress shoes
  2. essen Pizza with vegetables on top.       Pepperoni Pizza
  3. spielen Video game console       Person playing basketball
  4. lesen Cookbook       Newspaper
  5. reisen (nach) Japan poster       New York poster
  6. wohnen (in) South Korean flag       North Korean flag
  7. nehmen Purple Pontiac       Grey Race Car

Ex. I: Video. Nicos Weg. Episode 24: Das Auto is rot. Watch episode 24 and do the online activities. You will review adjectives and their opposites, which you learned in Chapter 1, as well as how to negate adjectives by putting nicht in front of them. You will also review the conjugation of the verb haben.



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