Why is 'the girl' 'das Mädchen' and not 'die Mädchen'?
I was just wondering why the girl is 'das Mädchen' and not 'die Mädchen' even though the boy is 'der Junge' and not 'das Junge', I'm just wondering and it might just be me being silly (it most likely is) but I'm curious.
To further what others have said about "all -chen words being 'small versions' and grammatically neuter", I'd add that you can add -chen (and often an umlaut) to many many words informally as a way of making them 'cuter'.
There are even the terms Frauchen, Herrchen and Hündchen, for people who are besotted with their dog.
Ein Männchen is also "a little man", and while it might not be used as often as Mädchen in the context of children, it is used to describe a drawing or figure of a man, for example a stick-figure (Strichmännchen), self-balancing figurine (Stehaufmännchen), or the little picture of a person on a pedestrian crossing traffic light signal (Ampelmännchen).
The noun endings "-Chen" and "-Lein" are diminutive and therefore neuter.
The "Manlein" mentioned in the legend of the Austrian floods in Kaernten(?) is also a word modified by a diminutive, so he is "Das Manlein". Go figure! This topic could run for ever, but it is typical of German Grammar for you.
In German, "girl" is neuter. All neuter nouns have "the" as "das," all masculine nouns have "the" as "der," and all feminine nouns have "the" as "die."
Wrote an essay some time ago. I always have problems with the gender, so looked up every noun to get it correct. Used Der Fluss, but then decided it was a "little river" so wrote Der Flusschen. Oh dear. T'was then I learned that ALL diminutives are neuter (Der Fluss, but das Flusschen). I lesson I have yet to forget. No wonder English speakers have problems with gender.
Come to think of it. Fraulein was the commonly used term for a young woman not a child but not married and it isn't even in the Duo vocabulary.
The girl=das Mädchen und The Girls =die Mädchen
I Hope it's help full.
This is because Das Mädchen is the diminutive form of Die Magd ("the maiden", in old german), and diminutive is always neuter. Nowadays the original form is no longer used, only the diminutive form ("the little maiden"). For obvious reasons I supose.