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How to Determine German Genders

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In German, every noun has its own article. There are masculine, feminine, and middle (Neutrum) gender. Like German nouns, the old English used to have grammatically gendered nouns until the Middle English period (1150 – 1500).

Here are the most common article for German nouns,

  • 39% of the nouns are masculine with the article DER.
  • 35% of the nouns are feminine with the article DIE.
  • 26% of the nouns are neutrum with the article DAS.

The grammatical gender is unique for the nouns in the singular. For the plural nouns, a common article “die” is used (translated as “the”).

Here are some tips on how to determine the German genders for singular nouns.

Masculine nouns (der)

RuleExamples
Male people, male animalsder Mann, der Professor, der Polizist, der Hund, der Stier
Many instruments / devicesder Computer, der Toaster, der Kugelschreiber(when these words end in er or or)
Days, months, seasons, most weather elementsder Tag, der Freitag, der September, der Winter, der Schnee, der Regen, der Nebel [=fog]
Points on the compassder Norden, der Süden, der Osten, der Westen
Makes (names) of carsder Volkswagen/der VW, der Porsche, der Toyota BUT NOTE: das Auto
Most non-German riversder Mississippi, der Mekong, der Nil, der Amazonas
-igder Honig [=honey], der Käfig [=cage]
-ichder Strich
-lingder Schwächling [=weakling]
-antder Elefant, der Lieferant [=supplier]
-usder Idealismus, der Kommunismus, der Zirkus
Most nouns ending in -ender Garten, der Hafen [=harbour], der Ofen [=oven]

Feminine nouns (die)

RuleExamples
Female people, female animals die Frau, die Professorin, die Polizistin, die Kuh, die Gans (except: das Mädchen, das Fräulein)
Most German riversdie Donau, die Mosel, die Elbe, die Weser, die Oder BUT NOTE: der Rhein, der Main
Most nouns ending in eBUT NOTE: der Käse, der Name, das Ende, das Auge, der Affe [and other animals], der Biologe [and other male job designations], der Kunde [=customer]
-ei die Bücherei (library), die Datei
-schaftdie Freundschaft [=friendship]; die Wirtschaft
-heit / keitdie Dummheit [=stupidity], die Schwierigkeit [=difficulty]
-ung die Landung [=landing], die Bedeutung [=meaning]
-tätdie Universität, die Elektrizi
-iondie Situation, die Religion, die Funktion
-ikdie Panik, die Logik, die Ethik, die Symbolik, die Mechanik
-iedie Philosophie, die Biologie, die Monotonie, die Magie
-enz/ anzdie Frequenz, die Toleranz, die Diskrepanz
-urdie Kultur, die Prozedur, die Natur

When the “Female people nouns” end in -in, they will form plurals ending in -innen. It may be helpful to keep in mind that most trees and flowers take the feminine article.

Example: die Tulpe, die Rose, die Eiche.

Generally, two-syllable nouns ending in –e, such as Sonne and Blume, take the feminine article die.

Neuter nouns (das)

RuleExamples
Human and animal babies / kidsdas Baby, das Kind, das Kalb, das Lamm [der Junge]
Names of animals that include both male and femaledas Pferd [horse], Schwein [pig], Schaf [sheep]
Cities, continents, and most countriesdas alte Berlin [old Berlin], Asien [Asia], Frankreich [France].
Exception: der Irak, der Iran, der Libanon; die Schweiz; and countries ending in -ei: die Türkei.
Most metalsdas Gold, das Kupfer, das Silber, das Nickel, das Kadmium
Verb infinitives turned into nounsdas Leben, das Schwimmen
Collectives with Ge (exception: die Gesellschaft)das Gebäude, das Gebirge, das Geschrei, das Gebüsch
Nouns w. diminutive suffixes: chen, lein (and their dialect forms: -le, -erl, -el, -li)das Kindlein, das Mädchen, das Hartmutchen (and das Häusle, das Kasperle etc.)
Nouns ending in -ment or -(i)umdas Experiment, das Museum, das Datum, das Opium
-tel, -tumdas Drittel, das Eigentum

Nouns with diminutive suffixes will be unchanged in the plural.

Example: das Mädchen, die Mädchen.

The letters of the alphabet: das A, das B, das C, das D, and so on, will take neuter article “das”. So will most “borrowed” words.

Example: das Hotel, das Poster, and so on.