I made a sentence but I'm not quite sure if I should add anything in front of the „Café“. Here's the sentence:

Was können Menschen in _ Café machen?

Thank you!

  • The exact rules are much more longer as in the answers, few learn them literally and then learn to apply them. You need nearly always Artikel. If you are unsure, best to use an unbestimmten Artikel. The rules are similar in any languages having articles (incl. English), so you have to learn it only once. Rather, with time, I think you will accustome it. – peterh Jan 4 '18 at 8:32

Your example sentence sounds incomplete and is partially wrong. "Menschen" is plural so you need to flex "kann machen" to "können machen", resulting in "Was können Menschen in Café machen?". Omitting the article before nouns is sometimes possible, but you are generally better advised not to cancel them. In particular you should add an article like "Was können Menschen in dem Café machen?" if you intend to ask what is possible in this specific location (like eating a special cake only served there), or "Was können Menschen in einem Café machen?", if you want to find out what people do in Cafés generally (like drinking coffee).

Sometimes nouns accompanied with a specific verb allow dropping the article, but that's some idiomatic phrase you need to learn with the term. Example: "Lass uns Bus fahren, statt mit dem Taxi." Here "Bus fahren" does not require an article, even if the full equivalent is "Lass uns mit dem Bus fahren, statt ...".

As a sidenote: "Machen" is a very generic term and should be substituted by a more precise verb, whenever possible. Furthermore, you most probably meant "man" as the subject in your sentence, as a general placeholder for an undefined actor, even if this ambiguity is also discouraged in good writing.

This results in "Was kann man in Cafés tun?".

  • Thank you so much for this detailed explanation! I am actually writing a script for the oral test. Since we haven't learned that much, it's quite difficult to write a script. And again, thank you for taking the time! – V Kes Jan 4 '18 at 2:57

You can also omit the definite or indefinite article by using im instead of in, which is wrong in this case:

Was können Menschen im Café machen?

  • 2
    That is actually no omission, but rather a contraction of "in dem"/"in einem" – tofro Jan 4 '18 at 15:33
  • You are right. But This is not about the origin of im. It‘s about the fact that the sentence does not contain an article. – clemens Jan 4 '18 at 17:06

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