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Rules about "en" and "et"

<h1>en or et?</h1>

Introduction

en is common and et is neuter. But how can I know which gender a word is? The only way is to look it up in a dictionary (you can find a Danish one here: dsn.dk), but, well, there are some rules, but they have exceptions – many exceptions. The list of rules here is from Dansk Sprognævn and kindly translated to English by the Duolingo user tbarasmussen who, by the way, will be glad to help you with any further questions.

The mnemonic rules

Common (en)

  • Used with the majority of all Danish nouns (75%)
  • Typically used with words describing animals and human being; for example:
    • en dreng (a boy)
    • en far (a dad)
    • en lærer (a teacher)
    • en kone (a wife)
    • en udlænding (a foreigner)
    • en tysker (a German)
    • en hund (a dog)
    • en kat (a cat)
    • en ko (a cow)
    • en laks (a salmon)
    • en hest (a horse)
    • en mus (a mouse)
    • EXCEPTION et barn (a child)
    • EXCEPTION et menneske (a human)
    • EXCEPTION et postbud (a letter carrier)
    • EXCEPTION et dyr (an animal)
    • EXCEPTION et egern (a squirrel)
    • EXCEPTION et svin (a pig; a swine)
  • Typically used with words describing plants, trees, and fruits; for example:
    • en birk (a birch)
    • en blomst (a flower)
    • en bøg (a beech)
    • en nød (a nut)
    • en pære (a pear)
    • en banan (a banana)
    • en eg (an oak tree)
    • en rose (a rose)
    • en tulipan (a tulip)
    • EXCEPTION et bær (a berry)
    • EXCEPTION et frø (seed)
    • EXCEPTION et løg (an onion)
    • EXCEPTION et træ (a tree)
    • EXCEPTION et æble (an apple)
  • Typically used with words describing streams; for example:
    • en å (a stream; a small river)
    • en flod (a river)
    • en strøm (a stream)
    • en bæk (a brook)
  • Typically used with words ending on -else, -ance, -dom, -ence, -er, -hed, -ing, -isme, -sion, -ør; for example:
    • en bevægelse (a move)
    • en forsinkelse (a delay)
    • en overraskelse (a surprise)
    • en skuffelse (a disappointment)
    • en tilladelse (a permission)
    • en ambulance (an ambulance)
    • en chance (a chance)
    • en debutant (a debutant)
    • en variant (a variant)
    • en ejendom (a property)
    • en sygdom (an illness)
    • en kompetence (a competence)
    • en konference (a conference)
    • en bager (a baker)
    • en hastighed (a speed)
    • en lejlighed (a flat)
    • en parkering (a parking)
    • en stilling (a job)
    • fascismen (the fascism)
    • kommunismen (the communism)
    • en diskussion (a discussion)
    • en direktør (a business manager)
    • en frisør (a hairdresser; a barber)
    • EXCEPTION et spøgelse (a ghost)
    • EXCEPTION et værelse (a room)

Neuter (et)

  • Typically used with words describing substances or masses, for example:
    • brødet (the bread)
    • glasset (the glass)
    • guldet (the gold)
    • jernet (the iron)
    • kødet (the meat)
    • papiret (the paper)
    • sølvet (the silver)
    • vandet (the water)
    • EXCEPTION jorden (the earth; the ground)
    • EXCEPTION luften (the air)
    • EXCEPTION regnen (the rain)
  • Typically used with words describing areas and locations
    • et amt (a county)
    • et distrikt (a district)
    • et kontinent (a continent)
    • et land (a country)
    • et sogn (a parish)
    • et torv (a square)
    • EXCEPTION en by (a city)
    • EXCEPTION en gård (a farm)
    • EXCEPTION en ø (an island)
  • Typically used with words ending –dømme, -ri, -ed, -um; for example:
    • et herredømme (a supremacy)
    • et omdømme (a reputation)
    • et bageri (a bakery)
    • et hoved (a head)
    • et marked (a market)
    • et gymnasium (a high school)
    • et museum (a museum)
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