I know this has been asked earlier, but in the cases I read through, the answer didn’t, in my opinion, be quite about what I was after, as the discussion was mostly about relative pronouns, although the general question was the same. I see this kind of usage very much in comics/lighter literary books and had to search for an easy example for this:

Der is aber übel gelaunt.
Well, he’s in a bad mood.

In an example like this, all I can think about is it being simply spoken language. Any thoughts? Or am I just thinking this “too difficultly”?

1 Answer 1


The article-like forms look like articles but are in fact demonstrative pronouns. Apparantly, they also have a second name deictic pronouns, because they are usually used when pointing at someone/something (Greek δεῖξις, pointing).

Which leads us directly to their usage: the use of der in the example is both adding emphasis and implicitly pointing at the person in question.

This also explains why you usually don't find it in written language when applied to people. You know, it's rude to point.

When used in regard to objects (abstract or physical) the usage is more common, although it's debateable whether it really still is a demonstrative pronoun. It still wouldn't count as the most formal way of expressing oneself.

Sentences like

Viele wissen nicht, wo ihr Impfpass ist. Der muss aber jetzt gesucht werden, verlangt eine Kampagne für Impfbewusstsein.

can be found written in newspapers.

  • Alright, I think I got it now. I have to keep this in mind while reading in order to find examples and have them make sense. Thanks!
    – yuho
    Commented Apr 26, 2015 at 15:21
  • @Jan, is it stylistically neutral or does it have a negative connotation, à-la "ach die, von ihr kann man alles erwarten"?
    – Dan
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 2:24
  • @Dan It’s considered not the most polite form as I wrote in the answer, but it can have either a positive (‘Der macht das echt super!’), negative (‘Oh Gott, der schon wieder’) or neutral (‘Der war vorhin da, ist aber wieder gegangen’) tone.
    – Jan
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 7:07
  • @Jan, "Anna ist doch eine sehr verantwortungsvolle Mitarbeiterin und würde das niemals machen! Für die lege ich die Hand ins Feuer!" - passt "die" hier in so einen Kontext? ( übrigens, you mentioned "not the most formal" and not polite, to be precise.)
    – Dan
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 15:51
  • 2
    @Dan Fine when talking to your colleagues. When talking to customers or your boss, it depends but it’ll still most likely fine.
    – Jan
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 13:31

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