It just confuses me, to be honest. I mean, I know I just joined and I'm still on the basics and stuff, but just -- what?

I know what it means; Girl, or girlfriend. But it has the form of Das? ( The Der, Die, Das thing still confuses me ), but why use "ein?" Why not "eine?" Isn't "eine," the female form of "a," or "one?"

You don't have to explain if you don't want to; I probably look like an idiot to a German, or someone who's fluent in it. But if you want to explain, you can.

August 17, 2014


When thinking about gender in languages like German (or any of the romance languages for that matter) it's important to understand that all it is is grammatical gender. That means that even though something looks like it should be masculine or feminine, it doesn't have to be. They might as well be called Gender 1, Gender 2 and Gender 3. They are arbitrary, and the only patterns they (tend) to follow have to do with the endings of each word.

If the noun has to do with a profession, then it's going to follow the patterns you'd expect, meaning a male person of any kind (artist, doctor, lawyer and so on) will be assigned to the masculine grammatical gender and any woman to the feminine (most professions have two words attached to them depending on gender, e.g. "Schüler" for male students and "Schülerin" for female ones) . Aside from this, you can keep thinking of them as 1, 2 and 3.

Mädchen is neuter because it ends in -chen. Every word ending in -chen is going to be neuter.

As someone else pointed out, it's perfectly normal to be confused when learning a new language, no need to worry about it.

August 17, 2014

German has three genders:

  • Der - masculine
  • Die - feminine (or plural)
  • Das - neuter

Mädchen is a gender neutral noun, despite the fact that it refers to a girl, so it takes das.

August 17, 2014

You are right, each noun with ending "-chen" in a gender neutral noun, that's why :)

August 17, 2014

Thanks ya'll for being to straight forward!!! Der, Die, and Das have been confusing me!

August 17, 2014

I probably look like an idiot to a German, or someone who's fluent in it.

It's probably one of the most asked questions here, so you're not alone. Don't be afraid to ask and "look like an idiot". "Looking like an idiot" is part of the learning process. ;-)

August 17, 2014

Ah, thank you! It's just embarrassing and scary to ask questions because people can be like: "WOW WHAT AN IDIOT."

August 17, 2014

You will unfortunately encounter those people ("WOW WHAT AN IDIOT") here, and your genuine questions will get downvoted by those people. As a whole, Duolingo's community is very helpful and polite (as you can see by the responses you've received so far). For more info on -chen, see Christian's post (the one at the top of the page...the one with 70 upvotes) in Luis' discussion thread here:

Best of luck with your German learning.

August 17, 2014

No. Do not hesitate asking questions (this is part of learning!), the forum is the right place for them. :-)

August 17, 2014

"Das" (neuter) is used because "mädchen" ends in "-chen". This shows that it is a diminutive and is therefore neuter. It is grammatical and doesn't actually reflect the meaning of the word.

August 17, 2014

On the questions in basics (and most tests) you will find the ''discussion'' feature extremely useful, when I first started I was reading the discussions on the questions almost once or twice each test because everyone was asking the same questions that I was going to ask - and all the answers were thorough and helpful!

Mädchen is a perfect example. I recall clearly being confused about why this word calls for the neutral article but in the discussion it was explained so clearly and efficiently that I never encountered a mistake with that word or any word ending with -chen again.

The discussion features on the questions themselves, and also the discussion feature here are arguably my favourite parts of Duolingo, make sure you use them regularly and never be afraid to ask a question.

Occasionally I find a few good jokes or some users arguing about trivial non-language based things (culture, religion, gender, etc) which is remarkably entertaining and a good 20 second refreshment between questions too!

Good luck!


August 18, 2014

the articles are der die das and mostly there are no rules. but this one is easy, because all words ending in -chen (diminutive) are "das". and because of "das", it is "ein".

have a look here:

August 17, 2014
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I recall reading a little about the etymology of Mädchen at one point. I don't remember it 100%, but, basically, there used to be a word that was grammatically feminine that was used for girl, but over time, the diminutive "Mädchen" overtook it in popularity to the point where it totally eclipsed the older word.

August 18, 2014

People call them genders, but they should be called "Way to say it"1, 2, and 3. Girl just happens to be neutral because of what it sounds like.

August 17, 2014

FYI: the German word "Mädchen" comes from "Magd" which has the same root as the English "maid". (Meaning has changed a bit over the centuries). -chen is to make something smaller (diminutive) and things that end with -chen are always neutral in German.

August 18, 2014

Words with the suffix "-chen" (a diminutive), are always neuter. Die Magd = the maiden. Das Mädchen = the little maiden.

August 19, 2014

My observation is that German words that end in "chen" are neuter. The "chen" is a diminutive. It means little something. Mádchen is little girl, Kátzchen is kitten, etc. See this article for some explanation and hints about gender.

August 18, 2014

Hi. The most helpful thing I may be able to offer is: rather than be confused, just realize, in the German language, not all words follow clear gender logic. Fortunately, most of them do, but for the rest, you'll have to rely on memorization. Memorization will be key when it comes time to learn irregular verb forms, too. For now, however, it's more important to enjoy the experience, and when you finally find yourself having a conversation, in German, don't worry about mistakes; the Germans are very kind, welcoming people whom will likely be more enthused that you have made the attempt to learn their language.

August 18, 2014

Don't worry, when I started learning German the articles were a nightmare ! As mentioned above das Mädchen is a neutral gender, who knows why.. just the way it is.

case masculine feminine neuter nominative der die das das Mädchen
ein eine ein ein Mädchen

This is only for the first case- nominative, it is getting more complicated with different cases, but this is all about memorizing. Don't give up and it will be only better :)

Let me know if you need any help!

Fingers crossed ! /Ich drücke dir die Daumen!

August 18, 2014

As IzabelaS say's, this is all about memorizing. I've been at it a while and aspects of the articles/cases still haunt me! The good news here is that you probably aren't going to forget the gender of Mädchen!

Just to complicate your life (as if you didn't find it complicated enough!), there are words distinguished by their gender. The only pair I can think of real quick is die See vs der See. Die See is the ocean and der See is the lake (someone suggested you can "die" easier in the ocean so Die See). A small difference, but a difference.

Anyway, it is a fun language to wrestle with! Hope you enjoy the trip.

August 19, 2014

BTW there is also the word "Bübchen", which means the contrary to "Mädchen", so it's a boy. In fact where "Mädchen" is used regularly for a girl, "Bübchen" is antiquated and therefore only used very rarely, and if so then only for little baby boys.

But you can hear the "Bübchen" along with "Mädchen" in an old German Chrismas song, which goes like this (in the second verse):

Kling Glöckchen klingelingeling, kling Glöckchen kling

Mädchen hört und Bübchen,

macht mir auf das Stübchen,

bring’ euch milde Gaben,

sollt' euch dran erlaben.

Kling Glöckchen...

If you want to hear this song, here it is:

Oh, and not to forget: Nowadays common words for boys are "Junge", "Bub(e)" or "Bursch(e)".

August 19, 2014

Just to add: Normally Mädchen isn't used in the meaning of girlfriend.

August 19, 2014

like everyone said, in german, the grammatical gender has nothing to do with the actual gender, so Mädchen (girl) is neutral (das) and Tisch (table) is masculine (der). there are some rules for what the gender is, according to the ending of the noun, but there are also exceptions. so your best bet would be to learn the gender along with each noun. i'm greek and we also have genders for nouns so i understand that part, and although some nouns have the same gender in both languages, it's also a nightmare, because some nouns have a differnet gender in each language and i sometimes get confused and give them the greek gender...

August 20, 2014

I get that it is das Mädchen is the girl. But what about the girls? Is it then den Mädchen?

August 21, 2014

The plural Form of "das Mädchen" is "die Mädchen"

August 22, 2014
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