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Suggestion: gender in vocabulary

I know its a repost, but at this moment there are 1974 posts like this, and after reading a few of the discussions I still couldn't get an official answer.

This is a must, at least for the German section, but I guess this issue has also major implications in Spanish, French and Portuguese grammar too.

So the request is to mark in some way the gender of the nouns in the vocabulary section. Make it dictionary-style ((m)/(f)/(n)) or coloured (blue/pink/green) or article ending (for German would be -r/-e/-s) or, with biological symbols or...you get the idea.

October 19, 2013



Couldn't agree more. I write down all the exercises I go through and use blue, pink and green to remember the article better. I think colours would work best. It's easier to remember the word Kleid written in green than Kleid (n.).


Color coded genders would be awesome. Especially if we could pick the colors for each gender.


I think if we could not pick the color I would prefer no color code at all though. Green for neutral looks wrong to me for example :)


Bah, deleted my post trying to edit >_<

I agree; I think it's vital that if colour-coding is included, that it is customisable. I think a general integration of colour tagging would be a very useful thing for the site - there will definitely be elements of other future languages which could benefit from it, as has been mentioned elsewhere in the thread. Hell, perhaps you could assign particular word-groups a colour, instead of just being able to assign colours to genders.

Colour coding can be a really useful way of mentally associating qualities with something, but it's important that those colours mean what the user would like them to mean, or it could have negative consequences (false associations are something I've experienced before thanks to colour-coding with colour choices that weren't my own - it's ever so fun!) for their learning.


I think you'd soon run into boundaries with that though. There are only so many colors that the human eye can successfully distinguish. Also, for me personally, color coded gender would be useful in the vocabulary page but certainly not in lessons because it would discourage leaning. The problem with having the option to choose colors (or other options) is also that it is soooo much more work for the team to implement and it might take a lot of processing recourses as well.

So while I think INCLUDING THE GENDER IN THE VOCAB PAGE WOULD BE REALLY HELPFUL, I am not even sure including color coding is worth it. I think what would be more helpful, potentially, is to be able to easily export the vocab (as suggested before). In an excel sheet it would than be super easy to sort by article (e.g. der/die/das, le/la etc) and color code yourself.

Anyways, I find after 3 month of duolingo I somehow get a feeling for the gender of words - which is ultimately the best thing when you learn a language. Implicit learning hooorrray! :)

But everyone's experience will be different. So this is just my 5 cents


True, there are limits to the number of colours one can distinguish (although this number is incredibly high for people who work with colour - one of the interesting things about language and colour, is that the more terminology a language has to distinguish colour, the more it's speakers are able to easily distinguish colour... completely irrelevant to my point, but we're on a language site, so :D), but that's another benefit of customisability - the user can implement the colour on the aspects they see fit for themselves. I don't agree that blanket colour-coding would be that much harder to implement than implementing colour-coding at all - it's relatively easily implemented in my experience. The hardest part, in this context, would be having the words readily categorised so that they all fall under the same coding - which, fortunately enough, the vocabulary section has already done with the many word families! :D

I also don't buy that it would discourage leaning - I will lean no matter what people do to my E-words! >:(

All that said, I was more saying it as a "well that would be cool" thinking aloud scenario. :P Ideally, I just want the same easily-viewed gender identification. :)


There are colourblind people who could have problems with that.


Gender could also be used as a activity-type - maybe a 'game' where you have to drag all the masculine words to the masculine box, and all the feminine to a feminine box. Could have timed versions as well to really drill it in.

I saw a post about this from a year ago. Most old posts like that with good ideas have already been implemented, or at least had an official response - I wonder what the hesitation is with this?

There is a definitely a need for some way to reinforce or summarise gender of learned words.


I would love an exercise like this. I'm doing okay with internalising the gender of nouns in German slowly but surely - but an exercise that really emphasises the gender aspect specifically would help further that goal.


I was thinking the same thing about a gender activity. That would be very helpful.


I agree. At the moment Duo already gives you the gender for German to English translations, but when you peek over an English noun, the German suggestions don't provide a gender.

If anything this should be reversed. You should be able to tell from the grammar of the German sentence what the gender of the noun is, but when trying to learn the noun by translating from English, you really need to know the gender.


Totally agree. Colors would also be handy once Mandarin to English is available, in order to help folks remember tones. Green, blue, red, black and orange are used commonly for this, but I don't think there is really a standard. Different people are probably accustomed to their own systems and it would be nice if color customization were available.


Absolutely - I want to emphasise that colour customisation in particular is an element which I think would be very important. Especially given that colour is a very cultural thing, and so being given pre-assigned colours could be confusing for some, especially on a language site, where the focus is very much international.


What I don't get is that this feature existed when I started on duolingo in January of this year, then a couple months later it was gone with no explanation. I wonder why something so basic was nixed.


I only just joined Duolingo over a week ago, but that's ridiculous if it was removed! I really hope the idea is only to improve the function before reintroduction!


Now, this is something new! I also think this is really basic and the developers must have been included from the start. So this feature was implemented and taken out for some reason. And judging by the way this project is brilliantly build-up, I am sure there was some good reasons, and is not a simple omission. Nothing is accidental.Yet am still I am waiting for an answer from Duo's developers. None of the comments here seems to be from our developers.


I'd find it very useful!


I too agree wholeheartedly. I tell my student in French never to learn a word without the article, as if it was part of the word. I am trying to do the same in Spanish writing it in my little book.


I'd be happy if the article were simply listed with the noun on the vocabulary list.


I like this idea. I wouldn't use venus/mars symbols though, as grammatical gender is not synonymous with a binary social gender/sex system. In fact some languages have up to 25 grammatical genders, (though many more only have 5.) And while many cultures have more than two social genders, their social genders and grammatical genders do not always match.


Back in the day when I used flashcards to learn german, I used this technique. I wrote words in black (neuter), red (feminine), blue (masculine)

As a suggestion like any other language with gender, you should learn it with the articles rather than just the word independently


If you open a noun in the vocabulary section, it gives you the gender in the forms seen as (m), (f), (n).


The idea is that nouns would be easily viewed by or sorted by gender. You can identify genders on a noun-by-noun basis in the way you've said, but it's the kind of cumbersome approach that's bringing life to the ideas in this thread. :P


I agree, when I practice a skill im confused about what gender is speaking.


There are official replies, but they are fragmented:

Tatou said: "We plan to revamp the vocab section at some point, and better integrate it into the apps." (http://www.duolingo.com/comment/862708).

In addition, the gender is already shown if you click the word. Regarding the color, a member of staff (http://www.duolingo.com/comment/124881) already agreed, but whether it'll be implemented or not is anyones guess.



Thank you, Dessamator for digging this up for us. I know the gender appears in the detailed section, but it would be useful to see it in the list of words. And because this info is already in the database, I guess it is quite easy to implement this feature. Basically it adds no supplemental data, it is just a more convenient way of displaying it. I am not a big fan of color-coded gender distinction, but the discussion seems to go that direction. Anyways I do not want it implemented in text, only in the vocab list.


Agreed it'd help a lot !


Yes!!! I've written posts requesting this.


I totally and utterly agree! This is something I was going to suggest, it will help remember the genders a lot, and I'm sure I'm not the one here to struggle with the German gender.


Given that learning the gender of nouns is REALLY important Duolingo seems surprisingly tardy in doing anything about it! 1974 similar posts for goodness sake!! Placing Das, Die, or Der in front of the nouns in the vocabulary section would vastly improve the situation for what would seem to be a relatively minor investment in time and effort. Come on Duo. Time to pay attention!!


Yes!! Hardly any feedback about this most basic of components in language learning!

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