Gender

Introduction

Grammatical gender indicates whether a noun is masculine, feminine, or neuter. All German nouns have a grammatical gender. In the dictionary you will usually see the abbreviations m (masculine = male), f (feminine = female) and n (neuter = neutral).

Example

In German, you often can’t tell from looking at a noun whether it’s masculine, feminine, or neuter. That’s why it’s best to always learn German nouns together with their articles.

However, there are certain features of some nouns that can help you identify their gender. These distinguishing marks are listed here:

Masculine Nouns

featureexample
male people der Mannthe man, der Präsidentthe president
seasons of the year der Frühlingthe spring, der Sommerthe summer, der Herbstthe autumn, der Winterthe winter
(but: das Frühjahrthe springtime)
days/months der Montag, der Dienstag, der Mittwoch, …the Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday...
der Januar, der Februar, der März, der April, …the January/February/March/April...
types of precipitation der Regenthe rain, der Schneethe snow, der Hagelthe hail, der Schauerthe showers
nouns that end in ling der Schmetterlingthe butterfly, der Lehrlingthe apprentice
nouns that end in ich/ig der Teppichthe carpet, der Honigthe honey
nouns made from verbs without en der Laufthe run/course (laufento run), der Sitzthe seat (sitzento sit)

Feminine Nouns

featureexample
female people die Frauthe woman, die Präsidentinthe president
(but: das Fräuleinthe young lady, das Mädchenthe girl)
numbers used as nouns die Einsthe one
nouns ending in ung die Endungthe ending
nouns ending in schaft die Mannschaftthe team
nouns ending in ion die Diskussionthe discussion
nouns ending in heit/keit die Freiheit, die Heiterkeitthe freedom, the cheerfulness
nouns ending in tät die Identitätthe identity
nouns ending in ik die Musikthe music

Neuter Nouns

featureexample
letters of the alphabet das Athe A
nouns ending in lein/chen das Fräuleinthe young lady, das Mädchenthe girl
nouns ending in um das Museumthe museum, das Aquariumthe aquarium
nouns ending in ment das Experimentthe experiment
foreign words ending in ma das Themathe topic, das Dramathe drama
nouns made from verbs in the infinitive das Laufenthe running, das Essenthe eating
nouns made from English verbs ending in ing das Timingthe timing, das Trainingthe training
nouns made from adjectives that are not referring to something particular das Neuethe new (thing), das Ganzethe entire (thing), das Gleichethe same (thing)
(but: Das ist der Neue.This is the new one. – e.g. pupil)

Compound Nouns

When a noun is formed from several other nouns combined into one word, the last noun in the word determines the gender of the entire word.

Example:
der Tischthe table + das Beinthe leg = das Tischbeinthe table leg

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