https://www.duolingo.com/Cuiki

Tricks for remembering the gender in German

Memorizing the gender of countless German nouns can be pretty frustrating. Do you have any tips or tricks to make the whole learning process a bit easier?

What I like to do is to make associations - I use a different person/group of people to represent each of the 3 genders, and connect the nouns with these people respectively.

So, for feminine nouns I'd use someone feminine or girly (a Japanese girl, Powerpuff Girls etc.), for masculine someone manly (Mr T, Chuck Norris), and for neuter nouns... I'm not sure. Maybe a transvestite/drag queen, if that's not too rude?

Below are a few boring examples of how this thing looks like in practice, but you can provide your own (more interesting) ones. The funnier they are, the more likely they are to stick in your mind.

der Tisch (table) - Mr T sawing a table; der Rock (skirt) - Mr T wearing a skirt; die Katze (cat) - a Japanese girl playing with a cat (or wearing cat ears); das Pferd (horse) - a drag queen riding a horse

Hope you have fun!

4 years ago

36 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/OldSpiceGuy
OldSpiceGuy
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You're welcome. Alt text

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pont
pont
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It's a two-for-one mnemonic -- Mr T is in drag and holding a rubber chicken, which will remind me that "Gummihuhn" is neuter!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ptangen

I was told that anything made by man is usually neuter or masculine and something which gives life is feminine i.e ? Der Tisch made by man Die Milch gives life and sustenance.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/J.DavidCR

hahahahaha

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AliceMarie

There are some general classes of things that always have the same gender:

Masculine:

male humans and animals (der Mann, der Bock); seasons, months, days of the week (der Sommer, der Januar, der Montag); winds, weather, points of the compass (der Schnee, der Norden); rocks, minerals (der Granit, der Diamant); alcoholic and plant-based drinks (der Gin, der Kakao); makes of car (der BMW, der Audi); rivers outside Germany (der Ganges, der Nil); monetary units (der Euro, der Dollar); mountains, mountain ranges (der Brocken, der Spessart)

Feminine

female humans and animals (die Frau, die Henne); airplanes, motor-bikes, ships (die Boeing, die "Bismark"); rivers inside Germany (die Weser, die Donau); names of numerals (die eins, die Milliard)

Neuter

young humans and animals (das Baby, das Lamm); metals, chemicals, scientific units (das Gold, das Aspirin, das Volt); letters of the alphabet, musical notes (Das A, das hohe C); other parts of speech used as nouns (das Aber, das modern Deutsch); hotels, cafes, restaurants, cinemas (das "Hilton"); continents, countries, towns (das alte Europa, das neue Polen, das geteilte Berlin)

All of the above from Hammer's German Grammar and Usage. There are some exceptions (aren't there always?) but it is a nice list that can help you figure things out by category.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlmogL
AlmogL
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Thanks for this, that's very helpful! Just a question, what do you mean by "female animals" being grammatically feminine? As I understand, die Katze is feminine even if it is a male cat, and der Hund is grammatically male no matter the biological sex of the dog, and any horse is das Pferd. Am I wrong?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AliceMarie

Hi. I think the reference to male and female animals would be when gender or age is specific. Like rooster (der Hann, der Gockel), hen (die Henne) or chick (das K√ľken). Haven't checked them all out, but others might be for bull/cow/calf, stallion/mare/foal etc.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlmogL
AlmogL
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Ok, thanks!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/richardchyan

Here are some tips:

things ending in -heit, -keit, -schaft, -ung-, and -ei are feminine. Like die Zeitung, die Baeckeri, die Gewerkschaft, die Sehenswuerdigkeit. Also in my experience, most words ending in an "e" will be feminine. Not all, but if you had no idea and had to guess I'd say it's a good chance it's feminine.

words ending in -ich, -ig-, and -ling are masculine like der Teppich, der Essig, der Frueling (all seasons are masculine)

and lots of words that start with "Ge" tend to be neuter like das Geschenk (the present, present as in gift not time frame lol), das Geschirr (the dishes), das Getreide (the crop).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nerdator
Nerdator
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Diminutive suffixes -lein and -chen always mean that the noun is neuter.

ge- is tricky, and there are tonnes of masculine nouns with this prefix, like Geruch or Geschmack.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jason.chum

For common nouns like "der Tisch" or "der Spiegel", I stick post-its around my apartment with the names and articles on it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/truelefty
truelefty
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Just like Matthew from Babbel!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DalekTechSupport

I kind of accidentally stumbled across a trick that ended up working quite well for me. I started putting all of my nouns into an Excel spreadsheet with a column for gender. Once I put a gender (m/f/n) in the column for a word, the next column will automatically show the correct article (der/die/das) and conditional formatting colours the row either blue (masc), pinkish (fem), or gray (neut).

Originally it was just meant to be a way to quickly distinguish genders for a word... but I ended up finding myself recalling the colours of words in the table when trying to recall the gender even though I hadn't made any intentional effort to memorize or associate the colours with the words.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/roandbehold

That is actually an awesome idea. Not only does it incorporate a great way of reviewing words and their genders, but it also incorporates my love of Excel! Thank you for the idea!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pont
pont
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The "silly images" technique is powerful, but I discovered that it got unwieldy once I was learning more than one language, since the genders won't necessarily match. Should you wish to learn French and Italian, you'll have to make sure that Mr T is sawing his table at the Brandenburg Gate, while a Japanese girl is sawing another one at the Arc de Triomphe :-), and both of them are sawing a table at the Colosseum! It might simplify matters to make all your mental "actors" German, just in case you need to learn some other genders for the same things later.

These days, for German, I just try to learn the article as part of the word -- I don't learn "Tisch", I learn "der Tisch".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Cuiki

That's a really good point, thanks!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rrlear
rrlear
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I agree with pont - the images and the memory palace approach works well in some situations but can be awkward. It seems to me that it is better to be able to respond quickly without having to ponder the images. So I too remember "der Tisch" pretty much as one word/phrase rather than trying to associate Tisch with masculine. And too, I try to remember "den Tisch", etc. as phrases.

That said, I do remember that nouns ending in "-e", "-ung", and "-keit", etc tend to be feminine. Except when they're not.

I must say though, that Mr. T in a skirt is an image that is going to remain with me for a long time!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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Except when they're not

Hahaha ! Way to confuse people ! I like the way you put it !

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/roandbehold

I use a mixture of learning the article with the word, and just to strengthen that I use the silly images as well. I use Arnie (I know he's Austrian, but same language) for masculine, my female German teacher I had in primary school for feminine, and for neuter I use both of them together.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Marie_So

I am using another trick. When writing down new words, I am using three different colors. Blue for masculine, red fo feminine and green for neuter nouns.
I always associate a noun with one color.

I am aware that it is not for everyone. This only works because I remember things visually. Anyways in my pratical experience, it really helps. and I hope it will help some of you.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/V_Gabor
V_Gabor
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That's my way too. Exactly the same coloring scheme.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GuyMiddlet

And my same colour scheme too :-) I have not been able to find any dictionaries or language apps with this type of colouring. Does anyone know of any?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RachitChau2

All you three probably have a psychological condition called synesthesia... Good thing is, Batman probably have the same condition...And it's helpful in learning...

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Athenicuber

or picture "Hello Kitty".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/schwarzer_peter

One trick I learned for German die See (Sea) and der See (Lake) is that you can more easily drown (die) in the sea as it is bigger than a lake and there are waves.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/J.DavidCR

Well, in my case, as I am a native spanish speaker, I associate the german genders to the spanish ones, so I just need to remember those that does not match up, and the picture of a funny character is really good in these cases. For neuter I always think about a monkey smoking cigarrete while doing something with relating object... The more bizarre the picture, the easier I can remember the gender of the noun.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Aliceby

Hello, I try to think of my brain and my memory as a big box with many drawers. For learning german this is very helpful because I dedicated three different drawers to nouns. Whenever I learn a new noum, I force myself to "store it" in the right imaginary drawer. On the left I put all masculine nouns, in the middle are feminine nouns and on the right are neuter nouns (Der -Die - Das, in the natural order I would say it). To store a word I also look in the appropriate direction. I feel like it helps me to get an "intinct" for nouns. It is a good help in addition to all the "rules" mentioned by other people here.

Good luck!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Simone2121a

My trick is this app! You can insert the words that you find during the study and the app will ask you to guess the right article of your words. It is helping me a lot!! http://itunes.apple.com/app/id1215721226

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nateVONgreat
nateVONgreat
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that is what I do too.

great stuff

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IndiePotato

Any noun ending with "ung" (such as "Meinung" Opinion ) is always feminine and many nouns ending in "e" are feminine as well. Another trend is that if that noun ends with "er" it's most likely going to be masculine.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rostellan
Rostellan
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That's interesting! When learning French, I remember learning that words ending with "ion" are feminine. I've also tried that out with German "ion" word-endings and found them to be feminine too.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pmm123
pmm123Plus
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Learning the gender of German nouns, along with the array of articles and determiners for the different cases, is a challenge for me. Not quite as challenging as German word order, but close! I am trying to learn the article and the plural form when I learn the noun, but I end up consulting a dictionary a lot.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mxylery

thx i love you, so much stress put away xd

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mxylery

does it work all the time?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lexia773474

Instead of memorising all the nouns with their gender you can learn about the patterns and rules that determine the gender of a noun. The book "Der, Die, Das: The Secrets of German Gender" explains all the rules concerning the usage of der, die and das. In addition, it also offers logical explanations as to why some words are masculine, feminine or neuter. It honestly helped me so much!

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Susan242221

I just ordered this book! Looking forward to demystifying this pesky challenge...or at least gaining some clarity. I'm aware of the few word-ending tips --and they are helpful -- but that leaves a bazillion other words to simply memorize. It seems so arbitrary, and my little pea brain can hold only so much :)

6 months ago
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