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Which form is correct and how can I know which to use?

Das wichtigste ist...
Die wichtigste ist...

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    And how can we know what you are trying to say? – Carsten S May 23 '15 at 7:06
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Das Wichtigste ist …

Is the correct form of saying the most important (thing) is …

Die wichtigste ist …

Does not have the same meaning and can be only used to refer to a previously mentioned female noun.

For example:

Was ist die wichtigste Aufgabe?

Die wichtigste ist das Sortieren der Ware.

Bascially it’s just a short form of

Die wichtigste Aufgabe ist das Sortieren der Ware.

  • And of course, "Das wichtigste ist ..." (and "Der wichtigste ist ...") are analogous to your second explanation, but for neuter (and male) nouns. – O. R. Mapper May 23 '15 at 12:15
  • Does not have to be previously mentoined. It could also just refer to a female (or a male in the case of der wichtigste) – Jan May 23 '15 at 12:31
  • Shouldn't wichtigste in Die wichtigste ist das Sortieren der Ware be written with a capital W? – raznagul May 23 '15 at 12:47
  • @Jan, no, you'd always say "Das Wichtigste ist meine Freundin". You even say things like " Das Wichtigste im Leben sind Freunde". "Das Wichtigste" does not change with the object it refers to. It's kind of an Idiom. – Adrian May 23 '15 at 13:05
  • @addy2012 Different context. ‘Der wichtigste (Mann auf dem Eis) ist heute Kopecky; spielt ihm den Puck zu und er verteilt’ could be the speech of the ice-hockey trainer. – Jan May 23 '15 at 13:39
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It depends on the implied Nomen. This is a very important point and a source of many errors. Let us generalise a bit, so as to clarify the problem:

Es gibt viele Regeln. Die wichtigste ist...

Here we are describing Regeln, which is a feminine word.

Ich habe fünf Kunden. Der wichtigste ist Franz.

Now, when we don't want to decide on the implied Nomen we just assume a Neutrum. Hence the standard expression would be:

Das wichtigste ist...

This practice of using Neutrum when not being explicit is quite general and even starts becoming a source of errors for native speakers.

Let us assume a German intends to buy a Computer. His colleague may advise:

Ein Laptop wäre das praktischste.

He does not want to think and pick a Nomen, like:

Ein Laptop wäre die praktischste Lösung.

His sentence is not wrong :)

  • Hello again. While your answer isn’t wrong, it is rather close to copying what addy2012 said. It’s not a real duplicate, because you go into more detail and approach the question from the opposite seid, but nonetheless it is considered good practice here to only post answers if they including new content. – Jan May 29 '15 at 19:15
  • I am sorry. I did not read it closely enough. I shall be more careful in the future. It is kind of exhausting for me to mix English and German... – Ludi May 29 '15 at 19:17
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    That’s okay; we’re all new at some point. =) I understand the difficulty of mixing ;). An additional note: You can notify a user that you commented by including @username at the beginning. Post owners are automatically notified (and the system somehow autodetects if a comment could be considered a response so you ‘got away with it’ this time ;)). The system will suggest names that it thinks might be interested in a reply (basically everybody who commented) and allows you to autocomplete names with tab. – Jan May 29 '15 at 19:20
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I recently found out that to express that you could say:

Etwas ist ihr /ihm am allerwichtigsten = the most important thing for him / her is..

Example:

Her job ist the most important thing for her = Der Beruf ist ihr am allerwichtigsten

=there is nothing more important

  • Not relevant to the question – Jan May 23 '15 at 12:30
  • @Jan I think it is --- E.V. is adding "allerwichtigste": slang form for most important. Could be a comment, though, since it does not address the gender difference. – Robert May 23 '15 at 15:58

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