Das Letzte, was ich möchte, ist, Ihnen irgendwelche Probleme zu bereiten.

English Translation

The last thing I want to do is cause you any problems.

I don’t get this one: I have seeen “der Letzte” in many expressions (“der Letzte auf der Liste”, etc), but here it is “das”? Is this one of those regional variations?

1 Like

“letzte” is normally just an adjective and the gender depends on the noun it modifies.
If there is no noun like in this case, and the adjective itself is used as an abstract noun (which is also why it is capitalized), then something like “Ding” is implicit, and you usually use the neuter case.

In the case of “der Letzte auf der Liste” the implicit noun is “Mensch” or “Mann”, or even “Jemand”, or if it’s not about a person, then also “Eintrag” or “Punkt” etc., so it’s masculine. But “Die Letzte” is of course also valid if it’s about a woman or some thing with feminine grammatical gender.


Ach, so! It’s the same as die/der Bekannte, etc. I didn’t realize that this was such a general rule, but after reading about substantivierte Adjektive I understand: any time it is clear from the context what noun an adjective is modifying, you can omit the noun and promote the adjective to the role of the noun while keeping the article unchanged. So these ad hoc “nouns” have no fixed gender, but rather inherit the gender of the implied/deleted noun.

Handy for shortening expressions but confusing to a learner. :melting_face:

Thank you for the clarification!


Good understanding, but it is not so “handy”, because it causes problems with gender-neutral language.

Up to let’s say five years ago, I could have said to a mixed group of students:
“Dem ersten, der die Aufgabe löst, spendiere ich ein Eis.”
(Because mixed groups were usually addressed in the male form.)

Today, this is not considered okay anymore and I have to say
“Dem oder der ersten, der oder die die Aufgabe löst, spendiere ich ein Eis.”
which is so arkward, that nobody get’s icecream anymore.