Gender in German
The first thing you must learn and understand about the German language is that all German nouns have a gender. These are:
- masculine (male) words
- feminine (female) words
- or neuter (neuter) words
Having a gender does not mean that nouns actually refer to male, female or neuter things, although, in most circumstances, the nouns that refer to males (such as a male doctor or a male animal) are masculine, while nouns that refer to females are generally feminine (such as a female doctor or female animal).
Here are some tips for you to help you get your head around it. Remember what nouns are? Nouns are words used to name or identify a person, animal, place, thing, or idea, for example: house, carpet, dream, cat. Just as in English, German nouns can either be singular, such as “cat” or Katze, or plural (i.e., more than one), like “cats” or Katzen.
Let's check out this free lesson on gender in German....
- die Flasche - Bottle
- der Rotwein - Red wine
- die Rotweinflasche - the bottle of red wine
- die Pizza - Pizza
- der Belag - Topping
- der Pizzabelag - the pizza topping
- die Dose - Can
- der Öffner - Opener
- der Dosenöffner - the can opener
How to pronounce the gender in German
Is there a clue?
The days of the week, months and seasons are all masculine.
Most nouns ending with – e are feminine, for example “die Blume” the flower. There are some more endings that give you a clue to what gender the noun has. However there are some exceptions, so take it as a rule of thumb.
What about compound words?
You will come across some very long words in German. These words are called compound nouns and are made up of two or more words. The last noun always determines the gender of the compound noun.