I have read this sentence as an example of the verb "auflösen" usage:

Die Tablette bitte in Wasser auflösen.

Why is it not

Die Tablette bitte im (in dem) Wasser auflösen?

Sorry about this simpleton question, but I thought it's essential to use the articles in order to clarify the case of the nouns as in this case "Dativ".

Perhaps in spoken English it's OK to drop the second article in this example but in Deutsch I'm not sure.

2 Answers 2


It's quite the same as in English:

dissolve in water = in Wasser auflösen

dissolve in the water = im (in dem) Wasser auflösen

The difference is the one between an indefinite article and a definite article. Water does not go with "a" or "ein" though because it is uncountable, so the indefinite form is just "water" or "Wasser".

If you have a glass of water standing in front of you and your spouse hands you a pill they might say: "Lös die (Tablette) in dem Wasser auf", meaning that definite glass of water.

If you're talking about general instructions, it would normally be "in Wasser auflösen", unless the same water has been mentioned before.

  • Well, I guess I'm not as good in English grammar either as I thought myself to be. Couldn't get clearer thank you very much 👍. So in conclusion if the noun is uncountable and is indefinite we drop the article altogether, is that correct?
    – Rickless
    Feb 8, 2021 at 19:31
  • Also, while I do not have example in mind, what if uncountable noun happen to be in a dativ case in a more complicated sentence, wouldn't that become a bit confusing to the reader or even the listener. I think I'm talking now about a totally imaginary scenario, grammatically speaking.
    – Rickless
    Feb 8, 2021 at 19:33
  • 1
    @Mahmoud: yes, if it's uncountable and indefinite there is no article: "Ich mag Bier und Wein." And yes, it can definitely be confusing sometimes: Take the sentence: "Ich ziehe Wein Bier vor." - it probably means "I prefer wine over beer", but could also, with a different emphasis when spoken, mean "I prefer beer over wine.". The preferred object is accusative and the less preferred is dative, but without articles there's no certain way to tell which is which. With "Ich ziehe ein Glas Wein einem Glas Bier vor" things become clear immediately.
    – HalvarF
    Feb 8, 2021 at 21:34

in Wasser

– in whichever water you have available or want to use

in dem Wasser

– in this specific water and no other

In dem Wasser would most likely be used when the water has already been mentioned, for example because it has been prepared for what you now do with it:

Lassen Sie das Wasser mindestens drei Minuten lang kochen, um Bakterien abzutöten. Lösen sie die Tablette dann in dem Wasser auf.

In Wasser might be used when the focus is on water versus no water:

Lösen Sie die Tablette in Wasser auf, nicht in Milch (und schlucken Sie sie nicht ohne Flüssigkeit hinunter).

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