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The German Gender – der, die or das?

What is the gender of a noun?

  • German has three different genders: masculine (der), feminine (die) and neutral (das).
  • In English that´s all „the“.
  • In a dictionary you will find the following abbreviations: m = masculine (männlich), f = feminine (weiblich), n = neutral (sachlich).
FormsExamples 
der - masculineder Mannder die das
die - femininedie Frau
das - neutraldas Kind

Which words require an article?

Nouns have a gender and therefore require an article.

Tip: These words almost always begin with a capital letter.

How do we determine if a word is masculine, feminine or neutral?

The most important rule: There is no universal rule that works in every situation.

In German the noun doesn´t show you the gender. Always learn the article along with the noun!

There are no rules, BUT:

There are certain characteristics of the noun that can help with determining the article. These are related to the meaning or the ending of the noun.

Masculine Nouns:

CharacteristicsExamples
Male peopleder Mann, der Student, der Vater
Occupationsder Architekt, der Arzt, der Mechaniker
Cardinal Directionsder Westen, der Osten, der Norden
Days, Months, Seasons
der Montag, der März, der Winter
Most rivers outside of Germany
der Nil, der Amazonas, der Ganges,
Most mountainsder Kilimanscharo, der Mt. Everest, der Vesuv
Precipitationder Regen, der Schnee, der Hagel,
Nouns that end in: -lingder Liebling, der Schmetterling, der Lehrling,
Nouns that end in: -ismusder Komunismus, der Kapitalismus, der Hinduismus,
Nouns that end in: -ichder Teppich, der Kranich, der Deich,

Feminine Nouns:

CharacteristicsExamples
Female Peopledie Frau, die Lehrerin,die Schwester,...
Occupations that end in –in or –fraudie Architektin, die Sekretärin, die Hotelfachfrau,...
Most rivers within Germanydie Elbe, die Donau, die Isar,...
The names of flowers, ships/boats, and motorcyclesdie Orchidee, die Titanic, die Kawasaki,...
Nouns that end in: -heit
die Einheit, die Freiheit, die Gesundheit,...
Nouns that end in: -keit
die Geschwindigkeit, die Möglichkeit, die Einsamkeit,...
Nouns that end in: -schaft
die Wirtschaft, die Landschaft,die Freundschaft,...
Nouns that end in: -ion
die Revolution, die Tradition, die Position,...
Nouns that end in: -ung
die Endung, die Verbindung, die Beziehung,...

Neutral Nouns:

CharacteristicsExamples
Colors and the names of hotelsdas Rot, das Hilton, das Blau,...
Nominalization (creating a noun from a verb) das Rennen, das Laufen, das Rechnen,...
Nouns that end in: -chendas Mädchen, das Brötchen, das Zeichen,...
Nouns that end in: -leindas Fräulein, das Blümlein, das Männlein,...
Nouns that end in: -mentdas Instrument, das Experiment, das Apartment,...
Nouns that end in: -ingdas Doping, das Timing, das Training,...

Compound Nouns:

If a noun contains multiple other words joined together, the last noun determines the gender of the compound word.

Examples:

  • der Schrank + die Tür   = die Schranktür
  • das Bett + die Decke   = die Bettdecke
  • die Hand + das Tuch  = das Handtuch

Finally, Good News!

Plural nouns are always feminine.

  • der Ball“ ⇒ „die Bälle”
  • die Frau“ ⇒ „die Frauen”
  • das Haus“ ⇒ „die Häuser”

Further Information:

  • Too many rules for you? Guess 75% of all articles correctly without a dictionary: The Article Trick
  • There are several different articles. I talk about them in Chapter 2: The Articles
  • How do you form the plural in German? – The Plural
  • How does the article change in the 4 cases? All about declension: The 4 Cases.
  • Some masculine nouns get an extra “n” at the end in accusative, dative and genitive. It´s called: N-Declension

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What is the gender of a noun?

German has three different genders: masculine (der), feminine (die) and neutral (das). In English that´s all „the“.
In a dictionary you will find the following abbreviations: m = masculine (männlich), f = feminine (weiblich), n = neutral (sachlich).

FormsExamples 
der - masculineder Mannder die das
die - femininedie Frau
das - neutraldas Kind

Which words require an article?

Nouns have a gender and therefore require an article.

Tip: These words almost always begin with a capital letter.

How do we determine if a word is masculine, feminine or neutral?

The most important rule: There is no universal rule that works in every situation.

In German the noun doesn´t show you the gender. Always learn the article along with the noun!

There are no rules, BUT:

There are certain characteristics of the noun that can help with determining the article. These are related to the meaning or the ending of the noun.

Masculine Nouns:

CharacteristicsExamples
Male peopleder Mann, der Student, der Vater
Occupationsder Architekt, der Arzt, der Mechaniker
Cardinal Directionsder Westen, der Osten, der Norden
Days, Months, Seasons
der Montag, der März, der Winter
Most rivers outside of Germany
der Nil, der Amazonas, der Ganges,
Most mountainsder Kilimanscharo, der Mt. Everest, der Vesuv
Precipitationder Regen, der Schnee, der Hagel,
Nouns that end in: -lingder Liebling, der Schmetterling, der Lehrling,
Nouns that end in: -ismusder Komunismus, der Kapitalismus, der Hinduismus,
Nouns that end in: -ichder Teppich, der Kranich, der Deich,

Feminine Nouns:

CharacteristicsExamples
Female Peopledie Frau, die Lehrerin,die Schwester,...
Occupations that end in –in or –fraudie Architektin, die Sekretärin, die Hotelfachfrau,...
Most rivers within Germanydie Elbe, die Donau, die Isar,...
The names of flowers, ships/boats, and motorcyclesdie Orchidee, die Titanic, die Kawasaki,...
Nouns that end in: -heit
die Einheit, die Freiheit, die Gesundheit,...
Nouns that end in: -keit
die Geschwindigkeit, die Möglichkeit, die Einsamkeit,...
Nouns that end in: -schaft
die Wirtschaft, die Landschaft,die Freundschaft,...
Nouns that end in: -ion
die Revolution, die Tradition, die Position,...
Nouns that end in: -ung
die Endung, die Verbindung, die Beziehung,...

Neutral Nouns:

CharacteristicsExamples
Colors and the names of hotelsdas Rot, das Hilton, das Blau,...
Nominalization (creating a noun from a verb) das Rennen, das Laufen, das Rechnen,...
Nouns that end in: -chendas Mädchen, das Brötchen, das Zeichen,...
Nouns that end in: -leindas Fräulein, das Blümlein, das Männlein,...
Nouns that end in: -mentdas Instrument, das Experiment, das Apartment,...
Nouns that end in: -ingdas Doping, das Timing, das Training,...

Compound Nouns:

If a noun contains multiple other words joined together, the last noun determines the gender of the compound word.

Examples:

  • der Schrank + die Tür   = die Schranktür
  • das Bett + die Decke   = die Bettdecke
  • die Hand + das Tuch  = das Handtuch

Finally, Good News!

Plural nouns are always feminine.

  • der Ball“ ⇒ „die Bälle”
  • die Frau“ ⇒ „die Frauen”
  • das Haus“ ⇒ „die Häuser”

Further Information:

  • Too many rules for you? Guess 75% of all articles correctly without a dictionary: The Article Trick
  • There are several different articles. I talk about them in Chapter 2: The Articles
  • How do you form the plural in German? 1.02. The Plural
  • How does the article change in the 4 cases? All about declension: 1.03. The 4 Cases.
  • Some masculine nouns get an extra “n” at the end in accusative, dative and genitive. It´s called: N-Declension

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  • Helene says:

    In the Artikeltrick, you say that animals are always masculine … What about “die Katze” and “das Pferd” ? Are there other exceptions to the general rule ?

    • Jan von EasyDeutsch says:

      Hello Helene,

      yes with the animals it desn´t work all the time… if it doesn´t work it is almost always an animal that actually exists in Germany! it´s das Pferd and the rule desn´t work but “Katze” (by definition) is a FEMALE cat. –> die // but it is used in general as well! That happens as well with “Ziege”. If you have no idea what´s the article of the animal you still have a chance of 80 to 90 that it will be masculine… but you will find exceptions yes…

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