The Zero Article

What is the Zero Article?

In general, most Nouns use Articles.

But there are Exceptions.

In some cases, Nouns come without Articles. When there is no Article, we call that the Zero Article.

 ⇒ No Article = Zero Article

The Use of the Zero Article

1. The Indefinite Article in Plural Form:

  • „Dort steht ein Auto.“ - „Dort stehen Autos.“
  • „Hast du einen Stift mitgebracht?“ - „Hast du Stifte mitgebracht?“

2. We use the Zero Article for Names of People and Companies that don't have an  Adjective in front of them:

No Adjective.

  • „Ich arbeite mit Max.“
  • „Ich arbeite bei Siemens.

With Adjective.

  • „Ich arbeite mit dem arroganten Max.“

3. After Size, Weight or Number descriptions:

  • „Ich möchte bitte eine Tasse Tee.“ 
  • „Die Brauerei braut jeden Tag 10.000 Liter Bier.“
  • „Ich hätte gern 100g Mortadella.“
  • „Ich möchte gern 10 Eier.“

4. For Nationalities and Languages:

  • „Olga ist Russin.“
  • „Sie will Deutsch lernen.“
  • „Pedro ist Spanier.“
  • „Er spricht schon Deutsch.“

5. Cities, Continents and most Countries that don't have an Adjective in front of them:

Condition: No Adjective before the Noun.

  • „Er kommt aus Berlin.“
  • Deutschland liegt in Europa.“

But:

  • „Ich komme aus der Schweiz.“ (Switzerland is an exception and always requires an Articles in fron of it.)
  • „Er kommt aus dem schönen Berlin.“

6. For Professions, when using „werden“, „sein“, „als“

  • „Olga ist Architektin.“
  • „Jan arbeitet als Deutschlehrer.“
  • „Pedro will Ingenieur werden.“

But: „Der Arzt macht einen Fehler.“ (The person himself is in focus, not the profession in general.)

7. For Materials and Substances used in a General context:

Materials and Substances like milk, paper, water, iron, gold...

  • „Mein Schreibtisch ist aus Holz.“
  • Papier wird aus Holz hergestellt.“

But: Das Papier im Drucker ist alle.“ (Specifically, your paper stock. We are talking about the object "paper", not about the material.)

Tipp

Advice:

Many rules might look quite complicated at first glance.

BUT: Most languages have a Zero Article. For example, the rules of German and English Zero Articles are 99% the same. German is different from Latin languages as they have an Indefinite Plural Article. But the rest is the same! So check it in your own language. The rules are probably similar!

Related Topics:

More lessons for the Articles:

In order for you to correctly decline the Articles, you must also be familiar with the German cases:

You can find an overview of all topics under German Grammar.

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