English Matters - Snippet

The definite article - a philosophical thought

For anyone who wishes to learn English, the language can seem pretty difficult.

At least there is only one definite article (the) compared to three in (gendered) German. And there's less to worry about casewise: All three articles in German (der, die, and das) change according to case, and whereas there are only three cases in English (subject, object and indirect object), there are four in German (nominative, accusative, dative and genitive). So, one could even say that one article in English has to compete against 12 article forms (three articles, for case forms each). Except that I didn't mention that there is also the plural form, so that there are 16 different ways to write the article. Although there is a lot of overlapping, so there could be less.

To elaborate on this, here's an example. For all plural forms, die is used, so that makes five dies in the nominative case alone, making less forms to remember, but more differentiation in one word. One could even say die is a homophone, but less a meaningful homophone, and more of a grammatical one. Does that mean English the is also a homophone for all genders and cases? If English had genders for all words, than the answer would have to be yes. But it refrains from any gendering at all. Unless we are talking about the usual male-female thing.

Think about it.



Tags: Englisch-Tutor, Englisch-Nachhilfe, Grammar, Article