Are German articles sometimes used as a pronoun? I heard someone saying this when his friend asked him with who he had gone to the supermarket.

Freund 1: Mit wem bist du zum Supermarkt gegangen?
Freund 2: Mit dem.


4 Answers 4


Generally yes, the German language has pronouns that are similar to articles. But for the given example:

German usually does not use articles as pronouns the way given in the original question, because their meaning is not clear on its own. But in colloquial German, it is sometimes used like that, if you assume the other persons sees or knows what you are talking about:


Welche Katze ist deine? Which cat is yours? (assuming: of these cats over there)


Es ist die (dort)! It's that one (over there)! (assuming: the one i'm pointing at)

  • 4
    I disagree. Substituting pronouns are used pervasively (and since demonstrative pronouns have the same forms as the definite article, this looks as if the articles were pronouns.) This has nothing whatsoever to do with colloquial usage. Reference is a fundamental feature of all languages. It's not in any way dispreferred because of unclear meaning. A text written without referring pronouns would have to repeat all of its referents each time, and would be near-unreadable. Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 7:09
  • @KilianFoth true, i was refering to the quite narrow example the OP used, and did not respect the general usage. I will edit my answer to reflect that better. Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 7:30
  • 3
    It's not colloquial German, it simply is spoken language. der,die,das are just as valid demonstrative pronouns as dieser, diese, dieses, jener,... The words are not articles in this case.
    – Chieron
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 8:19

Mit dem.

funktioniert nur, wenn man entweder auf den betreffenden zeigt, durch eine Kopfbewegung hinweist oder dergleichen, oder wenn zuvor von einer Person die Rede war, auf die sich das dem beziehen kann.

A: Ich kenne vier Stefans. Mein Freund ist der alte Besserwisser. 
B: Ḿit wem bist du zum Supermarkt gegangen?
A: Mit dem.


F: Welche Katze gehört Dir?
A: Hier laufen zwei Katzen rum, eine davon ist weiß. Die gehört mir.

Schwieriger wird es mit mehreren Kandidaten des gleichen Geschlechts:

Meine Freundin geht ihre Tante besuchen. Die hat keine Zähne mehr. 

Die Tante ist zahnlos, sonst hätte man sie gesagt.

Frank mag weder die Suppe, noch die Nachspeise. Diese ist versalzen, jene zu süß.

Diese bezieht sich auf das erste, jene auf das zweite.


Yes and no.

The form you have encountered is a demonstrative pronoun (Demonstrativpronomen). It has the same forms that vary by case and number as an article would, but it belongs to a different word class. Thus, it is not technically an article. But unless you check the surrounding words you cannot distinguish which type you have encountered.


The answer "mit dem Hans" is Umgangssprache/slang. Speaking slang is not encouraged, but heavily depends on the area you live in or the people that speak it. I would consider it as bad German.

  • 1
    See german.stackexchange.com/questions/3937/…
    – Robert
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 14:17
  • 8
    Wer ist Hans, und was hat er mit der Frage zu tun?
    – Carsten S
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 14:19
  • @CarstenS In the original question (uneditted version), a sentence starts like that "Mit wem hast", there may be a typo or misread? Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 8:26

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