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German words with disputed gender

[deactivated user]

    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:


    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



    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?"


    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


    Do you live near Hannover, or is there some reason to believe that the articles you use are the more standard or common ones?


    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.;-)

    [deactivated user]

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

      [deactivated user]

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


        Same, different possibilities: without article or with das/die ("die" is more common)


        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?


        For me (Rhineland): Das Zepter, der Barock


        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.

        [deactivated user]

          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.


          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.

          [deactivated user]

            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.


            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'.


            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"

            [deactivated user]

              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.


              PKW (abbreviation for Personenkraftwagen, masculin) is often used, too. So that is likely the reason why car brands also take the masculin article.


              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


              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.


              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.

              [deactivated user]

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


                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.

                [deactivated user]

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



                  And with three genders (https://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Kaki):

                  • die Kaki (fruit)
                  • das Kaki (colour)
                  • der Kaki (cloth)


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


                  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...

                  [deactivated user]

                    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.


                    If you want to see alternative genders, look for Schweizerdeutsch. Example: Hallo Deutschschule


                    This is unrelated, but weren't you the one talking about not being able to pronounce "Eichhörnchen"?


                    [deactivated user]

                      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...


                      Ha! I thought it was you. Sorry. Berücksichtigt is the one I have trouble with...


                      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.

                      [deactivated user]

                        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.


                        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

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