Gender in German

The first thing you must learn and understand about the German language is that all German nouns have a gender. These are:

  • masculine (male) words
  • feminine (female) words
  • or neuter (neuter) words

Having a gender does not mean that nouns actually refer to male, female or neuter things, although, in most circumstances, the nouns that refer to males (such as a male doctor or a male animal) are masculine, while nouns that refer to females are generally feminine (such as a female doctor or female animal).

Here are some tips for you to help you get your head around it. Remember what nouns are? Nouns are words used to name or identify a person, animal, place, thing, or idea, for example: house, carpet, dream, cat. Just as in English, German nouns can either be singular, such as “cat” or Katze, or plural (i.e., more than one), like “cats” or Katzen. 

Let's check out this free lesson on gender in German....

Here are some of the most basic German nouns to get you started. Further on in this lesson we will look at the pronunciation of these and more German nouns.
 

  • die Flasche - Bottle
  • der Rotwein - Red wine
  • die Rotweinflasche - the bottle of red wine
  • die Pizza - Pizza
  • der Belag - Topping
  • der Pizzabelag - the pizza topping
  • die Dose - Can
  • der Öffner - Opener
  • der Dosenöffner - the can opener

How to pronounce the gender in German

Is there a clue?

The days of the week, months and seasons are all masculine.

(der) Montag

Monday

(der) August

August

der Sommer

the summer

der Winter

the winter

Most nouns ending with – e are feminine, for example “die Blume” the flower. There are some more endings that give you a clue to what gender the noun has. However there are some exceptions, so take it as a rule of thumb.

Zum Beispiel

Masculine

-ast

der Gast

the guest

-mus

der Realismus

the realism

-er

der Computer

the computer

-ig

der Essig

the vinegar

-ling

der Schmetterling

the butterfly

Feminine

-heit

die Schönheit

the beauty

-keit

die Freundlichkeit

the friendliness

-schaft

die Freundschaft

the friendship

-ung

die Heizung

the heater

-ei

die Sauerei

the mess

-in

die Freundin

the girlfriend

-ion

die Aktion

the action

-ie

die Garantie

the guarantee

Neuter

-lein

das Häuslein

the little house

-chen

das Mädchen

the girl

-nis

das Verhältnis

the proportion

-at

das Internat

the boarding school

-ment

das Parlament

the parliament

-um

das Museum

the museum

What about compound words?

You will come across some very long words in German. These words are called compound nouns and are made up of two or more words. The last noun always determines the gender of the compound noun.

Zum Beispiel

Die Flasche

Bottle

der Rotwein

Red wine

die Rotweinflasche

the bottle of red wine

die Pizza

Pizza

der Belag

Topping

der Pizzabelag

the pizza topping

die Dose

Can

der Öffner

Opener

der Dosenöffner

the can opener

Here are a few recommended German lessons to try next!

Bis bald!
Paul Weber
Paul Weber
Rocket German

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