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I have a question relating to the use of articles in German that I think is different in English. When people say something in general like

I always wear T-shirt and jean in summer.

no article is needed but when I want to say in German

Ich habe im Sommer immer ein T-Shirt und eine Jeans an.

Here I must use articles. So is it true that in German article is required even when I want to say something in general like in English

I like ice cream, chocolate and cake.

Ich mochte ein Eis, eine Schokolade und eine Torte.

This question came up when I see many sentences where articles aren't needed in English but needed in German in my German class.

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I suppose in German classes learning the genders of nouns is important. So generally it's better to phrase things in a way that allows for the use of articles. –  Robert Jun 24 at 19:27
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Grammatically relevant: "I always wear T-shirt and jean in summer." isn't correct, it should be "I always wear a T-shirt and (a pair of) jeans in summer." or "I always wear T-shirts and jeans in summer." Grammatically, the nouns either have to be particular or categorical, so they either need an article or they need to have the categorical form (which in English looks superficially like the plural). The German form follows the same rule: particulars take articles, categoricals don't. –  SevenSidedDie Jun 24 at 22:53

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Your word order is a little bit awkward, but the articles are in this case not required in German either:

Ich habe im Sommer immer T-Shirt und Jeans an.

... is a perfectly correct sentence. I would also have used the verb "tragen" instead of "anhaben":

Ich trage im Sommer immer T-Shirt und Jeans.

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And "Hemd und Hose" would be the same. (I just add this, because for example Jeans might be perceived as singular or plural.) –  Carsten Schultz Jun 24 at 17:13
    
"Hosen" kann auch Einzahl und Mehrzahl sein. :) –  user unknown Jun 24 at 19:13
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"Hosen" is always plural even though it can describe a single piece of clothing (a pair of pants). –  Robert Jun 24 at 19:44
    
Hmm, für mich bezeichnet "Hosen" mehrere Beinkleider. Mag anderswo anders sein. –  Carsten Schultz Jun 26 at 18:41

What jarnbjo said is true, however I would like to add to that and expound on your second example:

I like ice cream, chocolate and cake.

Ich mochte ein Eis, eine Schokolade und eine Torte.

These are not correct translations of each other. I assume you're writing from an English keyboard and wanted to write "möchte" instead of "mochte" -- "I'd like" instead of "I liked".

"Ich möchte ein Eis, eine Schokolade, und eine Torte," is "I would like an ice cream, a (bar, piece, cup of hot) chocolate, and a tart (or cake)." You say that if you're ordering something, at a bakery or a cafe or such.

The correct translation of the first sentence "I like ice cream, chocolate, and cake," is:

Ich mag Eis, Schokolade, und Kuchen (bzw. Torte).

So you see that when you speak of things in general in German, you don't need articles necessarily any more than you do in English.

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For the lazy: Moechte has the same effect as Möchte –  FlavorScape Jun 24 at 23:17

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