I haven't seen any corresponding translation in German for this, these, that, those. Instead, there are both diese and das being used as pronoun and both seem to be used for both plural and singular objects placed at different distances.

However, I get confused when deciding das or diese should be used to refer to an object. Das is normally an article, but does it mean this and that as well? Diese also have the same meaning.

1 Answer 1


"der, die, das" can be three things in German:

  1. A definite article - "the"

    Der Mann geht die Strasse entlang.

    Die Frau geht auf dem Gehweg.

    Das Mädchen spielt auf dem Spielplatz.

  2. A demonstrative pronoun "that", "this"

    Der Mann da geht die Strasse entlang.

    Die Frau dort geht auf dem Gehweg.

    Das Mädchen da hinten spielt auf dem Spielplatz.

  3. A relative pronoun "which", "that"

    Der Mann, der die Strasse entlanggeht, trägt ein gelbes Hemd.

    Die Frau, die auf dem Gehweg geht, ist grade fast gestolpert.

    Das Mädchen, das auf dem Spielplatz spielt, scheint Spaß zu haben.

The plural is "die" in all three cases.

Which is which can only be determined by context.

"dieser, diese, dieses", on the other hand, is always a demonstrative pronoun, thus a synonym for (2) only. This demonstrative pronoun has a counterpart in German, just like "this" has "that" in English, to be able to vary qording based on distance. This counterpart, always meaning "that", is "jener, jene, jenes"

  • Relationship with plurals are missing in the explanation. It would be better to have them as well.
    – nmd_07
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 14:10
  • When you say das ist ein Buch, you need to know article of the object which you don't know what it is. This sounds very strange in case of a demonstrative pronoun. According to your explanation, Das ist der Mann is false, but der ist der Mann is correct. Have I understood it correct?
    – nmd_07
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 14:14
  • Sort of. If you are pointing to a thing you don't know, it's hard to know the article beforehand. You always use "das" in this case, then. So, assume you identify a burglar at the Police station, you could both say "Das war der Mann, der die Bank überfallen hat" and "Der war es, der die Bank überfallen hat". Beware, this works only for demonstrative usage.
    – tofro
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 14:19
  • Can I also use diese instead of using das? *Das ist ein Buch vs dieses ist ein Buch?
    – nmd_07
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 14:22
  • The answer is the last paragraph - yes, if the usage of "das" is demonstrative.
    – tofro
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 14:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.