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I am just learning to speak German, and I came across the aforementioned sentence. To my understanding, we use articles der, die das for nouns, but it seems like in

Question :

Gehen wir ins Kino am Samstag?

Das geht leider nicht.

does not have any nouns, so what is the das for?

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does not have any nouns

Such sentence never appears out of context (usually a question, but not necessarily).

so what is the das for?

Das refers to the verb and noun introduced in the question before (in[da]s Kino gehen).

It's merely the same as in English you say:

Would you want to go to the cinema with me at saturday?

That's unfortunately not possible.

Check @amadeusamadeus answer for the exact grammatical definition (Demonstrativpronomen).

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  • but in the answe there is no noun, merely a verb. It almost seems as if the article is for the verb gehen? – user1234 Jul 14 at 16:42
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    @user1234 As mentioned it refers to the verb and the noun: ins Kino gehen. – πάντα ῥεῖ Jul 14 at 16:43
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    "Such sentence never appears out of context" Yeah no, it does, if the context may be merely implied. Sometimes it may be ambiguous, like es as well, or determinative. "Das kann doch nicht wahr sein [dass das das, das da das dass allein ersetzen könnte, es doch nicht tut". Es ist kaum konkreter als Da. So könnte das's doch was faul oder da's auch also deiktisch sein und eventual genitive "dessen ist was nicht richtig, des geht dir nix an", wie pseudo dativ in "dem ist nicht so" – vectory Jul 14 at 22:51
  • Reading the first word, "does", has me wonderbifbthere was some confusion. "Does kann man nicht erklären"; oder "Das he understand" (this he understand)? – vectory Jul 14 at 23:09
  • @vectory Hmm well. At least the context with all your (counter-)examples seems to be implied. E.g. you spot some long not seen person at the street and say Das darf doch nicht wahr sein. implies , dass ich Dich hier nach Jahren wieder treffe. – πάντα ῥεῖ Jul 15 at 4:50
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In this sentence, das is not an article, but a demonstrative pronoun (Demonstrativpronomen). It refers to the verbal phrase ins Kino gehen.

While diese[r,s] ('this') and jene[r,s] ('that') usually refer to real things and are somewhat emphasizing, der/die/das often refer to things from speech and are less emphasizing. There is no complete English equivalent, however it matches closely French cela/ça and Italian ciò, for example.

Der and die can also be used as demonstrative pronouns for nouns with the respective gender. Verbal phrases, however, are always refered to by neuter das.

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