Wo ist Niko? – Niko ist in Brunos Obst- und Gemüseladen.

Can anyone please tell me why the article was left out in this sentence? And can you please tell me the cases in which we usually omit the article, with examples?

  • 4
    Where would you have placed an article here?
    – Gerhard
    Jan 3 '16 at 15:29
  • 2
    Yes, but this is a different sentence. In your initial example, you are using a genitive.
    – Gerhard
    Jan 3 '16 at 15:39
  • 3
    In your second example, you are using the definite article to define which shop you are referring to. In your initial example, you are using the genitive (Brunos) for the same purpose. So yes, you don't need to (and actually cannot) specify twice, which shop you are talking about, hence no need for genitive + article.
    – Gerhard
    Jan 3 '16 at 15:49
  • 1
    @Gerhard Of course, there are two articles missing: ‘Wo ist der Nico? – Der Nico ist in Brunos Obst- und Gemüseladen’ ;)
    – Jan
    Jan 3 '16 at 16:03
  • 1
    @Jan: You missed two other articles. It should have been im Laden vom Bruno. ;-)
    – chirlu
    Jan 3 '16 at 17:04

You have two sentences (not one).

First sentence:

  1. Wo ist der Niko? (definite article)
  2. Wo ist ein Niko? (indefinite article)
  3. Wo ist Niko? (null-article)

Number 1 asks for »the Niko«. So it asks for a special Nico. But since usually it is clear which Person named Niko is meant, this version is unusual. You find it more often in the south (Bavaria, Austria). In this regions this version is even the preferred version in colloquial speech, but it is considered to be not the best style.

In number 2 you ask for »a Niko«. This means, that you have more then one Nico among you friends, and you want just anyone of them. This is not what you normally want. So of all three versions, this is the least common one. Normally there never is a situation where you use this version.

In number 3 you ask for »Niko«. This is semantically the same as version 1, and this the version you should use, because it never is wrong. It is of better style than Version 1, and in northern areas of Germany, (as far as I know) it even is used in colloquial speech.

Second sentence:

(Der/ein/-) Niko ist in Brunos Obst- und Gemüseladen.

Here you can have the same three versions as in the sentence above, and the meaning are equivalent. There is no other place where you can add an article into this sentence.

But you can replace »Brunos« with an article:

  1. Niko ist in dem Obst- und Gemüseladen.
  2. Niko ist in einem Obst- und Gemüseladen.

In Version 1 you have an definite article, which means, that you are talking about a special fruit-n-vegetable-shop. The context must give the information which shop exactly you are talking about.

In Version 2 you are talking about »a shop«. So it's not important, which one you mean, but it is clear, that you are talking about one (not two or more).

If you replace the article with a name, then the name must be in genitive case, and so the name tells you who's shop you are talking about. So again, like in version 1, you are talking about a very special shop, but in contrast to #1 you don't need additional information from the context to know which shop is meant.


I just wanted to add some clarification as to the use of the article with names.

The first thing of note is that German articles act both as simple articles and demonsteratives. The second thing to note is that the German spoken in specific areas is always influenced by the underlying dialect of the region. Here we have to make a distinction between the true dialects, and Standard German with hits of dialectical flavoring for lack of a better phrase (of course there is a continuum between these like there is in everything linguistics related, but that is less important now).

In many dialects the use of the article for names is actually obligatory, Bavarian being one of those dialects, though not the only one. There is also a tendency for the article to be mandatory in southern dialects as opposed to the northern ones.

So when faced with the use of an article and a person's name there are two possible reasons for such a construction. The first is the use of a demonsterative (like English that or this), the second is influence from the regional dialect. This is of course context related.

Now, from a written perspective of what is deemed more acceptable, the use of article is reserved as the demonsterative. The lack of article then being the "correct" way to write something that does not use the demonsterative.

As a side note, as a Bavarian speaker I always have to catch myself when writing more formal things. It just feels wrong to me without the article for people's names.

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