German Gender of Nouns

Overview

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

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The German gender of nouns is a feature that is not found in English. Nouns are either masculine, neuter, or feminine, and there are some basic rules for determining their gender. While you are at it, check out this blog article.

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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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

Writing:
I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
Reading:
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
Listening:
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.