Using the noun ‘Familie’ is tricky because we have to remember its gender AND its plural form AND also correctly wield declensions on the articles and adjectives that may precede it.
In English, nouns don’t have gender and we make our noun plurals almost exclusively by adding an ‘s’. English doesn’t have a Case System with declensions either …
So, using a German noun such as ‘Familie’ demands that we learn how to work with several new, pretty intimidating components. It’s a lot for our brains to wrap themselves around!
- ‘Familie’ (family) is a commonly used feminine noun in German.
- all German nouns –such as ‘Familie’– have a ‘gender’.
- German nouns are used in conjunction with declensions.
Is ‘Familie’ der, die, or das?
‘Familie’ is die: die Familie(the family). This means that ‘Familie’ is a feminine noun because ‘die’ is a feminine form of ‘the’ in German.
Knowing the gender of every German noun you want to use is essentially for speaking German whatsoever.
Learning each German noun paired with a ‘der’, ‘die’, or ‘das’ properly sets you up to actually use German nouns in a sentence.
Knowing that it’s specifically ‘DIE Familie’ (the family) enables you to …
- ✅ Put ‘Familie’ in the nominative, accusative, dative, or genitive case
- ✅ Change the ‘die’ to a ‘der’ (the other feminine forms of ‘the’).
- ✅ Use other articles (or adjectives) and still nail all the declensions!
Is ‘Familie’ in German masculine or feminine?
‘Familie’ in German is a feminine noun.
English nouns don’t have gender at all, so the very idea is a bit mind-bending. But then to have to figure out WHICH gender a noun has –masculine, feminine, or neuter?! That can feel overwhelming.
Knowing what gender a word (i.e. specifically a noun) is in German is critical to …
- ✅ speaking even basic German
- ✅ reading & writing German
- ✅ understanding German at all
Thankfully, there are some fast, easy shortcuts you can use to learn German noun gender more efficiently and effectively.
What is the article of ‘Familie’ in German?
The article that pairs with ‘Familie’ is ‘die’: die Familie(the family). It’s ‘die Familie’ (and not ‘der Familie’ or ‘das Familie’) because ‘Familie’ is a feminine noun in German. And ‘die’ is a feminine version of the word ‘the’.
But sometimes you don’t see a ‘die’ in front of ‘Familie’. You might see der Familie. And then there are the plural versions die Familien, den Familien, and der Familien!
Article Table for ‘Familie’:
|Nominative||die Familie||die Familien|
|Accusative||die Familie||die Familien|
|Dative||der Familie||den Familien|
|Genitive||der Familie||der Familien|
The often intimidating truth is that you can’t properly use ‘Familie’ in German until you understand which of these different options (das, des, dem, die, der, den) to use for ‘the’.
Figuring out why these options exist (and knowing which one to use and when) is a matter of learning about The German Case System.
What case is ‘Familie’ in German?
‘Familie’ (or any other noun) in German doesn’t have a static case –the case may change from sentence to sentence.
Whereas a German noun has static gender (‘Familie’ is always a feminine noun and never a masculine or neuter one), the role that nouns play changes depending on the sentence.
And if the noun’s role changes, its case changes – a noun’s ’case’ and and its ‘role’ or ‘job’ (if you will) are basically synonymous. Learn more about the German Case System here.
When is it ‘die Familie’ vs. ‘der Familie’?
‘Familie’ and any other German noun may present in any of these four cases –nominative, accusative, dative, or genitive– dependent on the role ‘Familie’ is playing in the sentence.
This means that the declensions preceding ‘Familie’ will be in particular combos that appropriately indicate A) its static gender and B) the changing (i.e. different from sentence-to-sentence) role it’s playing.
As a beginner learner, it’s most essential that you focus on understanding the nominative and accusative cases first before the dative (used less often) or genitive (used quite rarely).
Die alte Familie ist reich. (The old family is rich.)
Die alten Familien sind reich. (The old families are rich.)
Notice the double -e declension combo in the first sentence on ‘die’ and ‘alte’ vs. the -e and -n declension combo in the 2nd sentence on ‘die’ and ‘alten’.
Ich sehe die alte Familie. (I see the old family.)
Ich sehe die alten Familien. (I see the old families.)
Feminine nouns such as ‘Familie’ use the exact same declension option in the accusative case that we already saw above for the nominative case –so, that’s not so bad!
However, you might be wondering how we distinguish between the nominative and accusative cases if the declensions are identical (and therefore ambiguous). Read here!
Ich vertraue der alten Familie. (I trust the old family.)
Ich vertraue den alten Familien. (I trust the old families.)
For ‘Familie’ to be used in the dative case, we’d most likely be dealing with a dative verb such as ‘vertrauen’ (to trust). Notice the -r and -n declension combo for the singular ‘Familie’ and the double -n usage for the plural version.
Finding the feminine genitive used in written and even spoken German is more common than the masculine or neuter nouns being used in the genitive case. However, even still, the genitive case is NOT an aspect of learning German that beginner students should be worrying about just yet.
Whenever you’re ready to learn more about the Genitive Case, read here.
Skills You’ll Need to Use ‘Familie’ In A German Sentence
In order to use ‘Familie’ or any other German noun in a sentence, you have to work with declensions on any determiner and/or adjective that precedes it.
In order to use declensions correctly, you need to be able to …
- ✅ identify different types of determiners (a.k.a. articles+)
- ✅ distinguish determiners from adjectives
- ✅ select between strong, weak, and zero declensions
Building Blocks You Need For ‘Familie’ Declensions
Understanding how to use ‘Familie’ and other German nouns empowers you to express yourself in a lot of different ways.
You need to correctly wield ‘Familie’ and other common everyday German nouns in a variety of contexts in order to speak German capably, comfortably, and confidently.
To correctly use declensions in combination with the German noun ‘Familie’, you need to be proficient in the grammar topics of …
The ‘noun gender’ component is a matter of knowing if the noun in question is paired with der, die or das (and is thus a masculine, feminine, or neuter noun, respectively).
Working with ‘noun case’ is all about understanding the different roles a noun can play in a sentence and how those roles relate to the 4 different case options in German.
The gender of your noun (always static!) and the case of your noun (changes from sentence to sentence!) working together results in a specific combination of 2-3 declension options (m, n, r, s, e, and ‘no declension’ [-]).
Selecting which of the 2-3 fixed declension options you need to put on your determiner and/or adjective, respectively, is what working with declension patterns –there are 4, total– is all about.
noun gender exists in German as 3 singular options: masculine, feminine, or neuter. Every concrete or abstract, animate or inanimate noun from ‘chair’ to ‘friendship’ or from ‘boy’ to ‘stone’ has one of these 3 genders, which are most often NOT intuitive.
‘plural’ gender is, in effect, a 4th gender option (grammatically speaking). Every plural noun shares the same ‘plural’ gender in terms of the declension combos used on any preceding determiners or adjectives, regardless of what the noun’s singular gender is.
noun case refers to the role that any given noun plays in any given sentence. Whereas noun gender is unchanging (i.e. static), noun case can be one of 4 total options (nominative, accusative, dative, genitive) at any point –all dependent on what grammatical ‘job’ the noun is playing relative to any other nouns in the sentence.
declensions are single letter endings (-m, -e, -r, -n, -s, or ‘no change’ [-]) put onto determiners (i.e. the better term than ‘articles’) and/or adjectives preceding German nouns (and sometimes even onto the nouns themselves). Declensions reflect both the static gender of the noun and whatever case it’s currently in.
declension patterns are used to apply the correct declension combos to any determiner and/or adjective preceding a noun. If you know the noun’s static gender, the case it’s currently in, and what declension pattern criteria the determiner and/or adjective met, you can nail declensions every. single. last. time. with minimal effort.