I am learning German by myself now. And I find the grammar of this sentence

Du bist der eine

whose translation is "you are the one", is very hard to understand.

"Eine" isn't supposed to be a noun, but there is still a "der" in front of it, which makes me very puzzled. Thanks for anyone who can help me solve this problem!!!

  • 15
    Actually the sentence has the same structure as its English counterpart, so it's a bit unclear to me what is so hard to understand about it. The reason why there is an article in front of "Eine" is exactly the same why there is a "the" in front of "one". An adjective or numeral can behave like a noun if the 'real' noun is missing.
    – RHa
    Feb 5, 2018 at 8:33
  • "You are the one" --> "you are that single person". What is so hard about it? Feb 5, 2018 at 12:43
  • 1
    In English, it can even be plural: "We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving..." <g> Feb 5, 2018 at 12:52
  • 1
    Auch im Deutschen kann es Plural sein: "Die einen sagen so, die anderen so."
    – RHa
    Feb 5, 2018 at 15:19
  • @RudyVelthuis it is probably confusing because words (nouns) ending in e are often femininum in German. Feb 5, 2018 at 22:00

2 Answers 2


Eine is the indefinite article but also a count »one«, you have to add a matching noun in your thoughts:

Du bist der eine, der immer schwierige Fragen stellt.

Du bist der eine Mensch, der immer schwierige Fragen stellt.

You are the one (human) who always asks hard questions.

The noun may also be a thing:

Das ist die eine (Schraube), die sich von selbst löst.

This is the one (bolt) which loosens itself.

It also works for other counts:

Ihr seid also die zwei, auf die ich aufpassen soll?

So you are the two I should take care of?

  • I would have written "You are that one (human) who always..." Feb 5, 2018 at 12:46

»Du bist der eine« can mean¹ »you are one of two«. Gender is male since it's »der«.


Wir stellen zwei Leute ein, du bist der/die eine.
(We hire two people, you are one of them.)

Du bist der eine, den wir einstellen. / Du bist die eine, die wir einstellen.
(You are one of two we hire.)

»eine« is used here as a cardinal number (Kardinalzahl).

The backtranslation of »you are the one« could be »du bist es« or »du bist derjenige/diejenige«.


Du bist es, den ich liebe. / Du bist es, die ich liebe.
(You are the one whom I love.)

Du bist derjenige, den wir brauchen. / Du bist diejenige, die wir brauchen.
(You are the one we need.)

¹Response to commenters

  • 3
    "»Du bist der eine« means »you are one of [them, those]«." - this is only one possible translation. And I would consider especially your second example sentence wrong: "Du bist der eine, den wir einstellen." implies there is no-one else, whereas "You are one of those we hire." implies the opposite. Feb 5, 2018 at 10:06
  • @O.R.Mapper: »Du bist der eine, den wir einstellen« impliziert für mich, dass es auch noch einen anderen gibt. Gibt es keinen, würde ich sagen: »Du bist der, den wir einstellen«.
    – Pollitzer
    Feb 5, 2018 at 10:36
  • 2
    "Du bist der eine, den wir einstellen." hört sich für mich nach einem impliziten "Alle anderen haben wir abgelehnt." an. Wäre Letzteres nicht der Fall, würde ich sagen: "Du bist einer von denen, die wir einstellen." Feb 5, 2018 at 10:45
  • 3
    The sentence doesn’t necessarily imply “… of two”. That’s just one possible usage. But it can (and is) also be used to express “you’re the [only] one for me”. I.e. out of all living people, the interlocutor is the speaker’s favourite person. Relatedly, it can be used to stand for to “der einzige”. Compare the Drosselbart song “Du bist der eine Weg”. Feb 5, 2018 at 12:02
  • It can not be meant with it. "Wir stellen zwei Leute ein, du bist der/die eine." is simply wrong usage of German language. "Du bist der eine, den wir einstellen" implies that there is only one to employ. "Der eine" is another wording for "derjenige", which is a definite denotifier (there is one, and there is none/no one else). Feb 5, 2018 at 20:49

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