I recommend reading the tips & notes for the first few lessons. You can find them by clicking the lightbulb icon before you start a lesson.
- All German nouns have grammatical gender.
- There are three types, called masculine, feminine and neuter.
- Most words have nothing to do with biological gender, so it's a bit abstract.
- You basically have to remember which gender a word has when you learn the word.
- Gender affects many things in a sentence, including little words like "the" - der, die and das all mean "the" but need to match with masculine, feminine and neuter nouns respectively.
So, if you have a masculine word like Junge ("boy") then it needs to use der to say "the boy" (der Junge). Alternatively, you can use these little words (technically called definite articles) to help you remember the gender of nouns. If you memorise das Mädchen instead of just Mädchen, you'll always remember that it's a neuter word.
When you get to the lesson called "Accusative Case", read the tips & notes for more information.
toxic cat I struggled with this der die and das thing too, but I am on a lap top and I started a new desktop notepad and renamed it german lessons. When a sentence occured and I got stuck knowing if I should add die or der etc each the items, some made sense, I learned frau was always die and mann was always der, but with plurals some words can change and even if you cheated and hovered your mouse over the word it gave you the wrong choice. So I found by typing them when they occured on my lessons into notepad with both german and english side by side, I learned and it stuck in easier. I was told writing it down helped to learn too. I could see at a glance after typing in a few sentances that they started to form a pattern. Also when it came to reading, eating and drinking there are so many variables of each, by adding them into a notepad you can see at a glance when they occur and a pattern of how to use them. If this makes any sense to you. I can refer to my notes if I get stuck and with notepad it has a find option so you can type in the word when the words you have added to notepad get long as mine has.
I am from Germany and I know this is really difficult. So please let me help you a little. it is correct that we think der - masculine, die - feminine and das - neuter. Sometimes if we have a plural we use another article for the singular: singular: das Mädchen plural: die Mädchen
When I started with French it was hard for me too because they use it sometimes with another gender than we do. It is easier to remember the genderrule "der - masculine, die - feminine and das - neuter" generally for German and cope with the exceptions with patience while learning to use the plurals. Another thing with the article: Much things in German are generalized. if you do not know the article it is often masculine used but not always. If you see a dog you say "der Hund" but cats are associated more feminine so you mostly say "die Katze" if you see a cat running over the street.
To make it more dificult for the more advanced. Here is a chart when to use which article if you can ask the Question "Wer oder was?" (Nominativ), "Wessen/ wegen wem/ was/ weswegen?" (Genitiv - most difficult !), "Wem?" (Dativ) or "Wen oder was?" : (1. ) maskulinum, (2.) femininum, (3.) neutrum, (4.) Plural Nominativ: (1.) der (2.) die (3.) das (4.) die Akkusativ: (1.) den (2.) die (3.) das (4.) die Dativ: (1.) dem (2.) der (3.) dem (4.) den ...n Genitiv: (1.) des ...s (2.) der (3.) des ...s (4.) der (Maybe you can make yourself a tablechart) here are some examples: Der Junge ging nicht aus dem Zelt heraus wegen des Wetters.
You could ask: Nominativ: Wer oder was ging nicht aus dem Zelt heraus wegen des Wetters? - Der Junge (Nominativ + Masculinum) Genitiv: Weswegen ging der Junge nicht aus dem Zelt? - wegen des Wetters (Genitiv + Neutrum) Dativ: (Not included in this example) Akkusativ: (Not included in this example)
Der Peter gab dem Jungen den er leiden konnte den Ball. You could ask: Nominativ: Wer oder was gab dem Jungen den er leiden konnte den Ball? - der Peter Genitiv: (Not included in this example) Dativ: Wem gab er den Ball? - dem Jungen Akkusativ: Wen oder was gab er dem Jungen? - den Ball
But this is with our four grammar-casi is one of the most difficult problems in German and there are languages that have six of them
The correct spellings are Junge, Mann, Mädchen with capital letters (and Mädchen has an umlaut -- write Maedchen if you don't have the umlaut on your keyboard).
Grammatical gender is essentially arbitrary in German. die Person is always feminine, though persons can be male; das Mädchen is always neuter, though girls are female; and der Löffel is always masculine, though spoons don't have (natural) gender.
is the a with an umlaut pronounced like [ɛ], [æ] or [e].
All German vowels can be "long" or "short".
Mostly, the difference is not just how long the vowel is pronounced (quantity) but also the exact sound (quality).
For example, "short i" is [ɪ] while "long i" is [iː] (a bit like the difference between the vowels of "bit" and "beat", though English "long e" as in "beat" is usually a bit of a diphthong while German "long i" is a pure vowel).
As for ä, the "proper" pronunciation is [ɛ] for "short ä" and [ɛː] for "long ä" -- the difference is only in length.
However, a common colloquial pronunciation is to pronounce ä exactly like e, giving [ɛ] for "short ä" and [eː] for "long ä": Räder (wheels) and Reeder (ship owners) will then sound identical, as will Bären (bears) and Beeren (berries).
("short ä" and "short e" always sound the same: hätten rhymes exactly with Betten.)
Finally, German vowels can only be long in stressed syllables; however, in loanwords, you can also find "long vowels" in unstressed syllables, in which case they are usually pronounced with the same quality as the long vowels but with a short quantity. Thus ä could also (colloquially) be [e] in an unstressed position as in Repräsentant [ˌʁepxezɛnˈtant], properly [ˌʁepxɛzɛnˈtant].
I don't think ä is ever [æ] in German.
Why does Junge have the pronoun "der" and Madchen have the pronoun das? Wouldn't Madchen be die because it's literally female in the word? And if they're going to make the word neuter, wouldn't they just go ahead and make both child forms of the genders neuter? Why is only one of them neuter?
Why does Junge have the pronoun "der"
(not "pronoun" but "article")
because the word Junge is grammatically masculine.
(Not Madchen but Mädchen -- or Maedchen if you can't type the ä.)
have the pronoun das?
Because the word Mädchen is grammatically neuter.
The grammatical gender of nouns is not necessarily connected to anything in the real world. die Person is always grammatically feminine, even when it refers to a male person. der Löffel (the spoon) is always grammatically masculine, even though spoons are neither male nor female but simply inanimate objects.
With Mädchen, there is an explanation for the gender: it's originally a diminutive, and all diminutives with -chen are neuter.
But in general, gender is just something you have to accept -- there's essentially no logic behind it.
Your talk of "if they're going to make" is thus also off the mark: Germans didn't all sit down at a big table one day and say, "Right, let's divide our words up into three genders".
We just speak the way we heard it from our parents, who learned the language from their parents, and so on through the generations.
Why is only one of them neuter?
Coincidence. Gender wasn't planned.
Why would 'Mädchen' be with 'das' instead of 'die'?
Because it's grammatically neuter.
naturally girl would be feminine
This is where you went wrong. Grammatical gender is -- in general -- not "natural". It's just something to memorise.
die Person is always feminine grammatically, even though a person can be male or female. der Löffel is always masculine grammatically, even though spoons aren't people and don't have a natural gender. das Mädchen is always neuter grammatically, even though girls are female.