https://www.duolingo.com/Nuno275251

German words with disputed gender

Hallo Leute,

Apparently there are some words in the German language that don't have a consensual gender. Granted they're not many but they exist nonetheless. The following video tells about some of them:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlhjsBJK0cE

Can our good folks from Germany here provide us with some more examples? Maybe even among yourselves we'll see some differences.

And of course, also give us their opinion on the last big question... Nutella.

And for all the German learners like me... enjoy.

February 15, 2018

37 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/hochimnorden
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Interesting video, thanks for the link.

Here are some more examples that are commonly used with different articles:

das/der Blog

das/der Event

das/der Gelee

das/der Gulasch

das/der Gummi

das/der Ketchup

das/der Radar

das/der Sakko

das/der Virus

Regarding Nutella, I am only aware of die/das Nutella, but I have not heard the masculine form yet. Also using no article before Nutella is common, like "Gib mir bitte Nutella" or "Magst du Nutella?"

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Hannibal-Barkas
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der Blog

das Event

das Gelee

das Gulasch (here I am a bit uncertain)

das Gummi (the raw material) der Gummi (the rubber band)

das Ketchup

das Radar (since it is an acronym)

das Sakko

das Virus

That is how I learned and used it for the last half century

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/drvdw
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Do you live near Hannover, or is there some reason to believe that the articles you use are the more standard or common ones?

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Hannibal-Barkas
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no, I live in the south, but I am still (more or less) 1/80.000.000 of the German population and I used to read a lot. Never heard them in a different way.

I didn't eat wisdom with a spoon, but I am quite able to use my ears.;-)

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Nuno275251

Could there be a regional variation there? He refers the "butter" case as one of those instances.

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Nuno275251

What about "Wo ist der/die/das Nutella?"

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/hochimnorden
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Same, different possibilities: without article or with das/die ("die" is more common)

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/drvdw
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I'm not from Germany but come across words from time to time that have multiple valid genders. For example:

Zepter (m oder n)
Barock (m oder n)

I always learn the gender when I learn a new noun. It would be easier if I could always just learn one. The problem is that I don't know which one is more common, so I memorize both. Is there some way I could find out which form is more common?

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Hannibal-Barkas
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both are neuter

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Jussel11
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For me (Rhineland): Das Zepter, der Barock

February 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MortiBiRD

Before someone gets scared. They are rare and arent really important (and usually no one cares if you decide to say die or das Nutella). Also there are some rules (and by that rule) Nutella should be die, yet you hear all three gender. Nutella is a name, the name is for a product called Nussnougatcreme. Now Nutella should get the same gender as Nussnougatcreme. But people just do it differently. For das you usually here, that its a thing and therefore it should be neuter.

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Nuno275251

He lists some relatively common words at the end... Radar, Pyjama, Liter and Sofa for instance.

But yes, nothing to be scared... in fact I think all gendered languages will have a handful of similar cases.

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MortiBiRD

Yeah, they are not really rare words. But there are not many. So you do not encounter any of them so often (I mean how many other common nouns are there? Plenty).

Now about Sofa (and some others), there might regional differences, but ive never encountered something different than 'das' (and also duden just lists das).

Anyway, I just wanted to say that its not a big deal. In worst case, people will correct you that, within the area which you visit, people prefer this or that gender for the word.

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Nuno275251

Incidentally I have the same problem with Nutella in my own language. I tend to go feminine but just based on the fact that it ends with an A... it sounds better.

Thanks for your input MortiBiRD.

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/az_p
Mod
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But why is it then der Volvo/Mercedes/usw. when they are all names for das Auto? I wasn't aware this was a 'rule'.

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CarlosLM.
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What about Volkswagen? Volkswagen is German for "people's car" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen). So, "der Wagen" can be a synonymous for "das Auto". Another example is the ambulance: "der Krankenwagen" or "der Rettungswagen"

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Nuno275251

Yes, I think you're right... they're referring to car brands as "wagen" not as "auto".

English has two words too, though not gendered of course: "car" and the much less used "automobile". In Germany it think it's the other way round, "auto" is the much more common word used.

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/hochimnorden
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PKW (abbreviation for Personenkraftwagen, masculin) is often used, too. So that is likely the reason why car brands also take the masculin article.

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/drvdw
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A related issue I often encounter: words with multiple valid plural forms.

der Knast, die Knaste oder die Knäste
das Klima, die Klimata oder die Klimate oder die Klimas
das Mädel, die Mädels oder die Mädeln oder die Mädel

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MortiBiRD

Even when its confusing, you should not worry to much about it. Usually you can go with any form and no one will blink an eye. Your german teacher might force his/her preferred form, but thats it. Regional usage differs but this difference is just a small issue.

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Nuno275251

Max.Em, stepintime, Heike, Maria and others invited to join the discussion.

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Max.Em
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No, thanks, this time not. There are some words with two equivalent genders and some for which changing the gender changes the meaning. For the first class you can choose what you prefer.

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Nuno275251

Well, that was the kind of input I was asking for... no need for in-depth explanations everytime.

Thanks.

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CarlosLM.
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And with three genders (https://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Kaki):

  • die Kaki (fruit)
  • das Kaki (colour)
  • der Kaki (cloth)
February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/--Heisenberg--

der Band (volume) die Band (band) das Band (tape, ribbon)

February 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Taldust
Plus
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Quest: "der Quest" feals natural too me, but some people say "die Quest", which feals wrong to me, but is the "more official" variant, i think.

February 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/npLam
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Thanks for the video link, Nuno. Its scrolling list seemed to say that Joghurt has only 2 genders (m and n). Wiki tells me that it has 3 if you include the feminine gender attributed to it in the region around Vienna. I know that Duo only deals with German German, but I thought some people might be interested...

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Nuno275251

You're welcome npLam.

Thanks for the extra bit of information. Of course Andrew, the guy in the video, is based in Germany so he naturally talks about German from Germany too. His channel has lots of cool bits about the country and the language and I'll be posting some here and there.

February 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CarlosLM.
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If you want to see alternative genders, look for Schweizerdeutsch. Example: Hallo Deutschschule

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ElyseGardner
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This is unrelated, but weren't you the one talking about not being able to pronounce "Eichhörnchen"?

https://twitter.com/babbel/status/961665194484273152

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Nuno275251

Me? No... I can actually say it decently. I think it was one another person on the false friends thread. Can't remember who.

Now if you're talking Außerirdischen or berücksichtigt...

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ElyseGardner
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Ha! I thought it was you. Sorry. Berücksichtigt is the one I have trouble with...

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ElyseGardner
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I just saw that on Babbel's twitter feed when I was trying to figure out why their site was down, and I thought it was funny. Too bad I couldn't remember the right person.

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Nuno275251

Elyse, it was slamRN. I've just checked that thread.

I found Beschichtungsstoffes not hard to say. I find Eichhörnchen (squirrel) much harder to say.

February 16, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/--Heisenberg--

some people say das Akku, although der Akku is right (der Akkumulator).

but das Akku sound much more natural to me that der Akku. even though its not right

February 22, 2018
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