Is it correct to use the article "das" in the following sentence? Why (not)?

Er spricht akzentfrei das Deutsch.

  • 4
    So the question is clearly about why there is no article used and yet 4 people want to close this because they see "proofreading, spell checking or translations of individual texts" in this? Where? Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 22:36
  • Related question with the indefinite article.
    – guidot
    Commented Nov 15, 2019 at 9:26
  • @Olafant Yes, in principle it's a duplicate. Unfortunately the question you linked to features a sample sentence pulled from some corpus that is not very idiomatic, which makes the question somewhat pointless.
    – Uwe
    Commented Nov 15, 2019 at 15:18
  • @Uwe The example doesn't matter. It's a clear question.
    – Olafant
    Commented Nov 16, 2019 at 11:22

3 Answers 3


I don't believe that there is a satisfying answer on the questoin "why". In languages, some things are just as they are.

You could perhaps try to force formulating a pseudo-rational reason like this (but I am really not sure if this is a robust argument):

You could interpret your sentence as

Er spricht akzentfrei deutsch.

where deutsch is not a substantive but an an adverb (not what does e speak but how). Starting from this, there is no reason whatsoever to insert a das.

A second thought:

Would you say in English

He speaks the English without accent.

No. You wouldn't. Uh... why not?

Third, as we already are into comparatistics, I would argue that the habit of not using an article in such cases is known to many (if not most) languages.

Той говори български без акцент

and not той говори българския без акцент. - This is Bulgarian, and the first sentence uses the equivalent of Bulgarian, the second, not well-formed sentence uses the equivalent of the Bulgarian. Note that in Bulgarian the article is not a separate word in front of a substantive but a syllable suffigated to the substantive.

  • The why is simple: Because it breaks the usual syntax. Er spricht das Deutsch akzentfrei would be tolerable at least, along the lines of Er hält den Ball flach, whereas er hält souverän den Ball is reserved for adverbs. In that sense "* Er spricht deutsch Akzentfrei" would have it backwards (and, at best, sounds a little French to me, "Merci beaucoup"). Part of the reason may be that "er hält Monsineure für ..." is optimal for lengthy explanations, whereas lengthy adverbial participles in third position are frequently considered too complex.
    – vectory
    Commented Nov 15, 2019 at 15:37
  • ... to be honest though, there's a lot more to say. Whether it's satisfying or not, my buffer is already saturated
    – vectory
    Commented Nov 15, 2019 at 15:53

It is not wrong but nobody would express it that way. Using the article here would imply a reluctant distance to "Deutsch". So it comes to the listener as if you want to mean something with using such strange wording. Otherwise the style is just terrible in German ears.


Er spricht akzentfrei das Deutsch.

If you use an article in this sentence everybody expects some sub-clause coming after it, like:

Ich spreche das Deutsch, das mir meine Eltern beigebracht haben.

If there does not come anything, these expectations prove wrong, so people feel irritated.

So in fact it's the same as with sentences like:

Ich esse Pommes Frites.

  • 1
    Better: "Ich spreche das Deutsch, das mir meine Eltern beigebracht haben." Commented Nov 15, 2019 at 17:46

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