German Gender of Nouns

Beginner German - Level A1

Overview

The German language has 3 genders when it comes to declining nouns. Learn about the three genders of nouns (masculine, feminine, neuter)

Vocabulary

Numbers, people, occupations

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German A1

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German Gender of Nouns

The gender of nouns is a feature of German that is not found in English. Nouns are either masculine, neuter, or feminine, and there are some basic rules for determining their gender.

Masculine Nouns

Masculine nouns include those that refer to male individuals, nationalities, professions, directions (e.g. der Westen), times of day (e.g. evening), days, months, and seasons. In addition, most (singular) nouns that end with -en, -el-er, and -ling, nouns ending with  -är, -ar, -or, -ich, -ant, -ent, -eur, -ismus-ist, and -ier  are masculine, Furthermore, brand names of cars are masculine (e.g. der Porsche, der Volkswagen).

Examples: der Lehrling - the apprentice 
                  der Rasen - the lawn

Feminine Nouns

Female individuals, professions and nationalities, nouns ending with an unstressed -e or in -heit, -kei-ung, -tät, -ion, -age, -ur, -schaft, -ei, -ie, -anz, -enz, and -ik are feminine. Numbers, brands of motorcycles, and ships are also feminine (e.g. die Zwei, die Zehn, die Honda, die Titanic).

Examples: die Landschaft - the landscape 
                  die Universität - the university

Neuter Nouns

Nouns referring to young humans and animals, using diminutive suffixes -sel, -lein and -chen (e.g. das Baby, das Mädchen), letters (e.g. das A, das Z), infinitival nouns/gerunds (e.g. das Essen, das Schwimmen), nominalizations of adjectives (e.g. das Gute, das Beste) and the majority of metals. Nouns ending with -um, -tum, and -ment, but also names of most cities, countries, and continents are neuter.

Examples: das Wachstum - the growth
                  das Universum - the universe 

Exceptions

Some words, especially borrowed or “loan” words (i.e. words taken from other languages), are a little more difficult to predict in terms of gender. Generally speaking, these words’ genders are often determined by their German equivalents/counterparts or their endings:

das Training  —  follows gerund rule, i.e. always neuter
das Apartment  —  ‘-ment’ suffix is always neuter

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Smiling worker holding cupcakes behind the counter at bakery

In der Bäckerei

Herr: Guten Tag, was darf es sein?

Dame: Hallo. Ein Roggenbrot, zwei Brezen, und vier Brötchen bitte.

Herr: Sehr gerne. Möchten sie die Roggenbrötchen oder die Vollkornbrötchen?

Dame: Zwei Roggenbrötchen und zwei Vollkornbrötchen.

Herr. Sehr gut. Darf es sonst noch etwas sein?

Dame: Ja. Ich hätte gerne einen ganzen Käsekuchen.

Herr: Mit Erdbeeren oder mit Himbeeren?

Dame: Erdbeeren, bitte.

Herr: Sehr gut. Kommt noch etwas dazu?

Dame: Ich glaube, ich nehme noch ein Baguette.

Herr: Das Weizenbaguette, oder das Bauernbaguette?

Dame: Das Bauernbaguette bitte.

Herr: Sehr gut. Kommt noch etwas dazu?

Dame: Hmm... vielleicht noch einen Kaffee.

Herr: Sehr gerne. Der Kaffee ist heute im Angebot. Nur 1 Euro.

Dame: Super! Das ist dann alles.

Herr: Alles klar.


Questions
1. What does the woman order?
2. What nouns were used in the plural, and what is their gender?
3. What feminine nouns were used?
4. What is the gender of "baguette", and how would you know based on the text?
5. What is the gender of "Kaffee"?

 

Answers: 
1. She orders a rye bread, two pretzels, two rye buns, two whole grain buns, a whole cheesecake with strawberries, a farmer's baguette and a coffee. 
2. zwei Bretzen (two pretzels), die Roggenbrötchen (rye buns), die Vollkornbrötchen (whole grain buns), Erdbeeren (strawberries), Himbeeren (raspberries). Plural nouns are always feminine. 
3. All plural nouns are feminine. (but are not necessarily feminine in their singular form)
4. "Baguette" is a neutral noun. The indefinite article used is "ein", and then "das". 
5. "Kaffee" is a masculine noun. "einen Kaffee" ("a coffee" in the accusative", and "der Kaffee ist heute...." 


Vocabulary:

dürfen – may, be allowed to
nehmen – to take  
              -> Was darf es sein? – What may it be?
das Brot (Brote) – the bread
der Roggen – the rye (but: das Roggenbrot)
die Breze/Brezl (n) – the pretzel 
das Brötchen (-) – the roll/bun
vollkorn – whole grain (das Vollkornbrötchen – the whole grain bun)
der Kuchen(-) – the cake
der Käse – the cheese (der Käsekuchen – the cheesecake)
die Erdbeere(n) – the strawberry
die Himbeere(n) – the raspberry
der Weizen – the wheat  (But: das Weisen  - the wheat beer)
das Baguette(s) – the baguette (das Weizenbaguette – the wheatbaguette)
der Bauer(n) – the farmer (das Bauernbaguette – the farmer’s baguette)
etwas – something
dazu – to that (kommt noch etwas dazu? - Anything to add to that?)
vielleicht – maybe
das Angebot(e) – the sale, special, offer

1. Choose the noun whose gender doesn’t fit.
   a. Brötchen, Kindchen, Häschen, Rasen
   b. Gemeinschaft, Nachbarschaft, Gesellschaft, Schaft
   c. BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Harley
   d. Universität, Zeitung, Funktion, Lehrling 

2. Read the following sentences, and enter “der Junge” or “die Jungen.”
   a. _______ spielen im Garten. 
   b. _______ heisst Tobi. 
   c. _______ gehen zum Supermarkt. 
   d. _______ sind in der Schule.

3. Look up singular masculine nouns with the following endings and find their plural forms. (Note: there are obviously many options.) 
   a. ‘-en’ : _________
   b. ‘-ling’: ________
   c. ‘ist’: _________
   d. ‘-el’: ________

4. True or false?
   a. “Brötchen” is a feminine noun. 
   b. Only singular feminine nouns use the definite article "die."
   c. Masculine and neutral nouns both use the indefinite pronoun “ein.”
   d. Car brands are usually masculine. 

 
Answers:

1. a) der  Rasen (lawn), is the only masculine noun. All others are neutral 
    b) der Schaft (shaft), is the only masculine noun. All others are feminine
    c) die Harley (the Harley). Motorcycle brands are usually feminine. All others are masculine
   d) der Lehrling (the apprentice) is the only masculine noun. All others are feminine

2. a) Die Jungen   b) der Junge   c) Die Jungen   d) Die Jungen

3. a) der Kuchen    b) der Lehrling   c) der Pianist     d) der Apfel 

4. a) False. "-chen" is usually neutral. "das Brötchen"
    b) False. All nouns take the definite article "die" in the plural
   c) True. Example: der Mann/ein Mann, das Kind/ein Kind
   d) True. Example: der BMW, der Audi, etc. 


Vocabulary:
das Brötchen (-) - the roll, bun
das Kindchen (-) - the little child
das Häschen (-) - the little bunny
der Rasen (-) - the lawn
die Gemeinschaft (en) - the community
die Nachbarschaft(en)  - the neighborhood
die Gesellschaft(en) - the society
der Schaft(en) - the shaft
die Universität(en) - the university
die Zeitung(en) - the newspaper
die Funktion(en) - the function
der Lehrling(e) - the apprentice

Listen to the audio and try to answer the following questions.

 

Questions

1. What neutral nouns were used? (Look up their plural form as well!)
2. Who is tired?
3. What is beautiful?
4. What is fast? 
5. What is green? 

 Answers

1. das Auto (Autos), das Museum (Museen), das Mädchen (Mädchen), das Kindlein (Kindlein)
2. Das Mädchen ist müde. The girl is tired.
3. Die Landschaft ist schön. The landscape is beautiful. 
4. Das Auto und der BMW sind schnell. The car and the BMW are fast. 
5. Der Rasen ist grün. The lawn is green. 
 

Transcript

Das Auto ist schnell. Der BMW ist schnell.
Die Universität ist hier. Das Museum ist dort.
Der Lehrling arbeitet. Die Lehrlinge arbeiten.
Der Rasen ist grün. Die Landschaft ist schön.
Das Mädchen ist müde. Das Kindlein spielt.

Vocabulary

das Auto(s) – the car
der BMW(s) – the BMW
die Universität(en)  - the university
das Museum (Museen)  - the museum
der Lehrling (e) – the apprentice
der Rasen(-)  - the lawn
die Landschaft(en) – the landscape
das Mädchen (-) – the girl
das Kindlein (-) – the little children
schnell – fast
hier – here
dort – there
grün – green
schön – beautiful, pretty
müde – tired
arbeiten – to work
spielen – to play

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