Elementary German I
Elementary German I

Elementary German I

Lead Author(s): Louise Stoehr

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This textbook is designed for use in a flipped classroom. Students work through the text, study examples, and questions designed to provide guided language practice.

Kapitel Eins
Wer und was ist im Klassenzimmer? Wie bin ich?

Teil 1,1  Was ist das?

In this Teil (section), you'll learn to name and identify the persons and things in your German classroom. There are a few things about nouns in German that you should be aware of before learning them.

Quick links


We use nouns to name or identify person, places, and things. Examples of nouns are:

   auto - Auto  hand - Hand  house - Haus  woman - Frau
love - Liebe  war - Krieg    city - Stadt   state - Staat

First, notice that German nouns are always capitalized. Second, you will see that some German nouns are very similar in spelling to their English equivalents. This is because English is one of several Germanic languages.

The Definite Article
When you speak about  a specific person, place, or thing, you will use a noun and a definite article. In English the definite article is the, as in the following examples:

That's the man I was talking about. (a specific, definite person)
Is that the house that was just sold? (a specific, definite house)
Hamburg is the city I was reading about. (a specific, definite city)

In all three sentences the word the is identical in form. In German the definite article has several distinct forms:

    Der Mann ist jung.      The man is young.
    Die Stadt ist alt.      The city is old.
    Hier ist das Haus.     Here is the house.

As you can see, the definite article in German may be either der, die, or das. The form of the definite article in German depends on the gender of the noun. Specifically

        der is used for  masculine nouns
        die is used for   feminine nouns
        das is used for   neuter nouns


In English we divide living things into two genders — masculine and feminine — and generally lump all inorganic things into a third gender, neuter. We call this natural gender. Generally, German uses natural gender for living things:

   Mann (man) is masculine, and
   Frau (woman) is feminine.

For non-living things, German uses what we call grammatical gender. What this means is that things that are normally neuter in English may be masculine, feminine, or neuter in German. A few examples illustrate this:

der Tisch.......the table   die Wand.....the wall   das Licht.......the light
Boden.....the floor   die Decke.....the ceiling  das Fenster...the window

You will need to know the gender of each noun you learn as well as its meaning. Always associate the definite article with a noun when you first learn it. Establishing accuracy with gender now will pay off later.

Let's do a quick concept check before moving on.


In German, living things that are male are usually [math]_______________[/math].


In German, living things that are female are usually [math]______________[/math].


In German, inanimate things may be [math]_______________[/math], [math]________________[/math], or ___.


When learning German nouns, one must learn the [math]____________[/math] of the noun as well as its meaning.


Nouns are words that are used to identify [math]________[/math],[math] _____________[/math], and[math]____________[/math].


German nouns are always [math]_______________[/math].


The English word the is known as the[math] _____________ ____________[/math].


We use the word the with a noun to show that the noun is [math]_______________[/math], not general.


The form of the definite article in German depends on the [math]_______________[/math] of the noun.

If you are happy with the results of your quick review, then it's time to continue on learning some new vocabulary that you will need for your next class meeting.


Our first topic in German 131 is das Klassenzimmer (the classroom.) The words you learn here now you will use in the upcoming exercises for this and the next Teile (sections) and in your upcoming class meetings. Spend ten or fifteen minutes now to become familiar with these words and then continue reading.

Note: As a general rule, it is always best toinvest the time you need to learn the vocabulary before you attempt the exercises that follow the new vocabulary. You will find that the exercises will be much easier and more enjoyable if you don't have to keep referring back to vocabulary lists.

Vokabular: das Klassenzimmer - Dinge

die Klasse - class (a group of students)
das Zimmer - room           das Klassenzimmer - classroom
das Labor - lab             das Computerlabor - computer lab

der Boden- floor             der Tisch - table

der Schreibtisch - desk          der Fernseher -television set

der Stuhl- chair             der Kugelschreiber - pen 
                       (colloquial: der Kuli)

der Bleistift - pencil           der Papierkorb - waste basket

der Wischer - board eraser        der Radiergummi - (paper) eraser

der Computer- computer         der Beamer- data projector

der Lautsprecher - (loud)speaker

die Wand- wall              die Ecke - corner 

die Tafel- blackboard           die Decke - ceiling

die Tür - door              die Uhr - clock

die Lampe- lamp/light fixture       die Leinwand - (projection) screen

die Maus - mouse

das Fenster - window           das Licht - light 

das Papier - paper            das Schild - sign

das Buch - book             das Lehrbuch - textbook

das Heft - note book           das Bild - picture

das Poster - poster

Vokabular: das Klassenzimmer und das Labor - Leute 

die Person - person

der Student - (male) student      die Studentin - (female) student

der Professor - (male) professor     die Professorin - (female) professor

Be able to identify the persons and things in your German classroom. You may practice doing this by imagining your classroom and identifying what your mind's eye "sees." You may also wish to make sticky notes in German for items in your room that are the same as those items in the classroom

Now, it's time to practice what you have learned. The following questions will ask you to write the correct for of the German definite article for each word presented.


[math]______[/math] Stuhl


[math]______[/math] Licht


[math]______[/math] Bild


[math]______[/math] Ecke


[math]______[/math] Fernseher


[math]______[/math] Decke


[math]______[/math] Buch


[math]______[/math] Radiergummi


[math]______[/math] Leinwand


[math]______[/math] Boden


[math]______[/math] Papier


[math]______[/math] Bleistift


[math]______[/math] Professorin


[math]______[/math] Labor


[math]______[/math] Wand


[math]______[/math] Maus


[math]______[/math] Schreibtisch


[math]______[/math] Computerlabor


[math]______[/math] Heft


[math]______[/math] Assistent


[math]______[/math] Professor


[math]______[/math] Kugelschreiber


[math]______[/math] Assistentin


[math]______[/math] Papierkorb


[math]______ [/math] Uhr


[math]______[/math] Zimmer


[math]______[/math] Ding


[math]______[/math] Klasse


[math]______[/math] Person


[math]______ [/math] Wischer


[math]______[/math] Student


[math]______ [/math] Schild


[math]______[/math] Beamer


[math]______[/math] Studentin


[math]______[/math] Computer


[math]______[/math] Tür


[math]______[/math] Fenster


[math]______[/math] Tafel


[math]______[/math] Tisch


[math]______[/math] Handy

If you need more time to learn the vocabulary items and the correct form of the definite article, do that now before continuing with the next section.


Knowing standard greetings is important if you would like to get someone's attention in a friendly way, initiate a conversation, or respond to somebody who has greeted you.

When meeting people

The following formal greetings may all be used to say hello at various times of the day.

Guten Morgen! - Good morning!

Guten Tag! - Good day!           Grüß Gott! (in southern Germany)

Guten Abend! - Good evening!

The following informal greetings may also be used with relatives, good friends, and acquaintances to say hello.

Hallo! - Hi!             

Hallo, wie geht's (Ihnen)? - Hi, how's it going?
  Gut. or Mir geht es gut. / Nicht so gut. or Mir geht es nicht so gut. - Fine / Not so well.

Morgen! - (Good) Morning!

Tag! - (Good) Day!

Abend! - (Good) Evening!

Put your new knowledge immediately into practice! Use these forms of greetings when you come to your German class and when you meet members of your class or German Club on or off campus.


In German-speaking countries, a greeting is typically accompanied by a handshake. If two people know each other fairly well, one may ask the other »Wie geht's?«. Unlike in the States, this question is a real inquiry, and a response such as »Danke, gut!« or »Nicht so gut, danke.« is expected.

Useful Classroom Expressions

To ask you or another student to repeat something, your instructor will often say one of the following:

Wiederholen Sie! - Repeat!
  Wiederholen Sie das, bitte. - Repeat that please.

Sagen Sie das noch einmal, bitte. - Say that again please.
  Noch einmal! / Noch 'mal! - One more time! or Once more!

Wie bitte? - What's that? or How's that?

Freie Kommunikation

This is the final exercise for Teil 1,1. Most Teile (sections) conclude with a Freie Kommunikation. It is a different type of exercise that requires a bit more creativity or associative thinking on your part. It is your opportunity to begin to use the new material you are learning. 

Download the Freie Kommunikation worksheet for Teil 1,1 from D2L. You may handwrite or use your computer to respond to the questions. Either way, please print out the worksheet and bring the completed Freie Kommunikation with you to your next class meeting.

Please note that you will need to prepare the worksheets for each Teil in advance of the class meeting. Whenever a Teil is assigned, know that we will engage in German conversation based on that Teil.