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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kay.lee.831

Are there any easy ways to tell the gender of words in German? If so, please share!!!

I am having a hard time identifying the genders in German, therefore I am also having trouble deciding which of these "der, die, das" to use. Please help.

March 8, 2018

18 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Heike333145

There are existing threads on this topic (you can find them by entering "German noun endings gender duolingo" into google. This one looks quite comprehensive: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/575903/THE-GENDER-OF-GERMAN-NOUNS

A general recommendation: When learning nouns, you should always learn them as a unit with their article in the nominative case. For example "der Baum" instead of just "Baum", "die Blume" instead of "Blume", "das Heft" instead of "Heft".

This will help you get the genders and the forms of the cases right.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kay.lee.831

Thank you so much!! I will definitely do what you said.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DovahFerret

A friend who did study abroad in Germany said it's just a matter of memorizing it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mcquinn1971

Hi,

Yes, it is recommended to learn the gender (and plural form) when you first learn the noun, but there are lots of regular patterns and noun groups that can significantly reduce the amount of memorizing required and save you heaps of time.

For example the following nouns groups are always masculine (the seasons, months of the year, days of the week, points of the compass, weather elements), and all nouns formed from verb infinitives are neuter.

With some of the rules there are a few exceptions, but even if only 80% of nouns follow a particular pattern then it is still very useful to be aware of the commonly encountered exceptions, and it will give you a much better chance if you are in a position where you have to make a guess.

Most of the patterns concern suffixes, for example, words ending in -keit are feminine (no exceptions), words ending in -schaft are feminine (almost no exceptions), words ending in -ung are feminine (almost no exceptions - though I did find der Sprung - jump)

Here is a list of noun suffixes I got from the forward in my Collins lexicon that may help...

Feminine (-anz, -ei, -elle, -enz, -ette, -euse, -heit, -ie, -ik, -in, -ine, -ion, -ive, -keit, -schaft, -tät, -ung, -ur) Masuline (-ant, -ar, -ent, -eur, -ist, -ius, -ling, -mus, -tor) Neuter (-chen, -ium, -lein, -ment)

Many of these nouns are derived from other languages, and there WILL be exceptions. As said, the best time to learn the gender/plural is always when you learn the word but the patterns help a great deal.

There are some similar patterns to plurals too - especially of feminine nouns where over 90% form their plural by adding either -n or -en.

Sorry I couldn't be more thorough at this point. I am trying to compile a database of German words and when it's completed I will be able to produce some interesting stats on gender/plural forms with lists of exceptions so I'll tag this discussion and let you know if I find anything.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slamRN
  • 1354

mcquinn - Can you give some examples of "verb infinitives"? I am the world's worst grammarian. Danke.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mcquinn1971

Hi, verbs are listed in dictionaries in their infinitive form (eg, schwimmen - to swim, sprechen-to speak, lesen-to read). (They almost always end in -en but a small minority in -ern, -ln.) You can then derive a noun from the infinitive; same spelling just capitalize the fist letter, so from the infinitive "schwimmen" (to swim) you get "das Schwimmen" (the act swimming /or the sport of swimming). The good new is that nouns derived from verb infinitives in this way are always neuter "das" so it helps in learning the gender.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kay.lee.831

Wow this is very helpful!!!! Thank you sooooo much!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chooyo

Short answer: no - you must learn them and their plurals.

Slightly longer answer: not really, but there are tendencies and tricks that can help a lot. For example, try this site: https://www.thoughtco.com/masculine-feminine-or-nueter-in-german-4068442 that has some of the rules.

The thing is, the same root word may have up to 3 genders (rare) that change the meaning of the word ("band" is a good example). The more you just use them, the quicker they stick (at least for nominative case ... things get stranger when you get to direct / indirect objects)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mcquinn1971

Also, don't forget that nearly all compound nouns (nouns formed through concatenating two or more words) take their gender from the last noun. So if you know the gender of the last noun then you can assume that to be the gender of the compound noun. For example..

der Arbeitsplatz - der Platz der Autobus - der Bus das Badezimmer - das Zimmer das Beispiel - das Spiel


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slamRN
  • 1354

Yes, this is a very good thing to know.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slamRN
  • 1354

Here is my cheat sheet:

Der Iglingorismus

Die Eikeitungtätikheitschaftion

Das Umleintummamentchen


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mcquinn1971

In the case of concrete nouns it is very effective if you can use some kind of mnemonic memory aid. (however, this isn't always possible for abstract nouns)

For example, some time ago I learned the neuter noun "das Zelt" (the tent) and I made a mental image of BOTH a man and a women (therefore neuter) pitching a tent. Since then I have never had a problem trying to remember the gender of "das Zelt".

Most feminine nouns are obviously feminine so apply this method mainly to the masculine and neuter nouns where the gender isn't determinable by some other logical pattern or grouping.

I think that by using an organised approach, learning noun genders should not be such a problem.

Ich hoffe, dass es hilft und viel Glück.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/7hAu0bvY

you have to learn nouns as a unit whith the artikels couse there is no telling otherwise ;-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ondtogviltonsket

To my mind , it isn't a good thing to be so concerned about... Even because, they're changing according to the cases. Believe in me, as time goes by you'll end up getting the hang of it. When I first begin the course here, I didn't know anything at all.

But if you want to stick to it... Pay attention to the words ending, they usually show you and give a clue, which gender you must pick.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/slamRN
  • 1354

That may work if you are reading German or maybe even doing a lesson, but, if you want to write or speak in German contemporaneously one must know the noun genders. I don't see any way around it.

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