I've noticed from titles of songs and poems, a definite article is used such as:

'An die Hoffnung'
'An die Freude'
'An die Musik'

A few websites give examples of the use of definite articles before nouns like

'Der Winter kommt'

rather than

'Winter kommt'

, but they don't explain why that's the case. I hope the question makes sense.

  • 1
    Is this a recursive Joke in the title, or shouldn't it not be "Why does German use [...] definite articles before nouns ..."? ;) Jan 30 '20 at 3:25
  • @Gandagorn Please clarify your question why you would expect that there are no articles and what you found about the grammatical rules. Jan 30 '20 at 6:55
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    That a noun is preceded by an article is the common case. A missing article is the exception. So you might rather ask why English does not use an article.
    – RHa
    Jan 30 '20 at 6:59
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    @Gandagorn BTW, "The winter comes" is valid and usual English also, and as well "Winter kommt" could be used in German in colloquial or poetic contexts. Jan 30 '20 at 7:02
  • @πάνταῥεῖ It's not that I expect there to be sometimes no articles before nouns. When coming across examples of German sentence, I sometimes see a definite article before a noun, which in English, there wouldn't be. I'm wondering why that's the case because I'm trying to learn German.
    – Gandagorn
    Jan 30 '20 at 7:22

German word order is not as strict as English word order. You may place subjects and objects as you like. The case markers tell the reader if a noun is a subject or an object, and which type of object.

German has no case markers on nouns apart from some exceptions (genitive singular and dative plural of some declination classes). Instead, it puts the case markers on the words describing a noun further. Adjectives, pronouns, number words. The indefinite article in German is identical with the number word »one«.

If there is no such describing word in front of a noun, you still need a case marker most times. That's when German puts the definite article in front of it.

Whereas, in English the definite article is only put in front of a noun as a pointing finger —a small demonstrative—. This use does exist in German, too, but it's not the only use of the definite article.

  • 1
    Coming from this meta post, may I ask why you didn't upvote the question? Jan 30 '20 at 9:15
  • 4
    I find the question not especially ingenious. However, I nevertheless answer it to avoid leaving it unanswered and popping up again and again.
    – Janka
    Jan 30 '20 at 9:31
  • Ein Beispiel in Englisch und Deutsch wäre nett. Jan 30 '20 at 22:14
  • Für was genau ?
    – Janka
    Jan 31 '20 at 9:34

See section 3 of this link for where the definite article is used in German (but not in English) https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/grammar.collinsdictionary.com/amp/german-easy-learning/articles

  • 2
    Links often expire over time. Therefore we expect, that the answer gives at least an excerpt of the arguments, made in the text. It then is a nice service to provide a link for more details. Feb 6 at 6:01

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