How can I better learn noun genders?

  • One of the things that I really liked about German, as I was studying it in college, was the very orderly grammar, which actually helped me to understand my native English better.

    As a non-native speaker, one of the hardest things for me to do is remember the correct noun genders. When I speak German, I am intelligible, but I'm sure it sounds to a native speaker much as English as a foreign language sounds to me.

    Are there tips and tricks to learning genders? Are there patterns that I might not be aware of that will save me from brute force memorization?

    Bei den Worten, die mit unterschiedlichem Geschlecht gebraucht werden, ist mein Favorit > **Der** 1. **Band** von Harry Potter ist relativ kurz. > (männlich) > > **Die Band** spielte laute Musik. > (weiblich) > > Sie hatte **das** blaue **Band** im Haar. > (sächlich)

    It's a really useless language feature, conveying next to no information at all. We should drop it like in English (or at least partially, as in Swedish).

    Maybe this helps. But one has to study such pages again and again.

    My spoken *der,die,das,den,dem,des* often congeals into some non-committal abbreviation. Better to speak and slightly wrong.

  • Correct answer

    10 years ago

    It's not the actual person, place or thing that has gender in German, but the WORD that stands for the actual thing. That's why a “car” can be either das Auto (neut.) or der Wagen (masc.) or die Karre (fem.).

    After searching about noun genders, from here:

    Masculine (der/ein):

    • Days, months, and seasons:
      Montag, Juli, Sommer (Monday, July, summer). The one exception is das Frühjahr, another word for der Frühling (spring), because in a compound the rightmost part always determines the gender (das Jahr).

    • Points of the compass, map locations and winds:
      Nordwest(en) (northwest), Süd(en) (south), der Föhn (warm wind out of the Alps), der Scirocco (sirocco, a hot desert wind).

    • Precipitation:
      Regen, Schnee, Nebel (rain, snow, fog/mist)

    • Names of cars and trains:
      der VW, der ICE, der Mercedes (but motorbikes and aircraft are feminine).

    • Words ending in -ismus:
      Journalismus, Kommunismus, Synchronismus (equal -ism words in English)

    • Words ending in -ner or -ler:
      Rentner, Schaffner, Zentner, Zöllner (pensioner, [train] conductor, hundred-weight, customs collector), Siedler (settler). The feminine form adds -in (die Rentnerin).

    • The basic "atmospheric" elements that end in -stoff:
      der Sauerstoff (oxygen), der Stickstoff (nitrogen), der Wasserstoff (hydrogen), plus der Kohlenstoff (carbon). The only other elements (out of 112) that are masculine are der Phosphor and der Schwefel (sulphur). Note: All of the other chemical elements are neuter (das Aluminium, Blei, Kupfer, Uran, Zink, usw.).

    Feminine (die/eine):

    • Nouns ending in the following suffixes: -heit, -keit, -tät, -ung, -schaft:
      die Freiheit, Schnelligkeit, Universität, Zeitung, Freundschaft (freedom, quickness, university, newspaper, friendship).

    • Nouns ending in -ie:
      Drogerie, Geographie, Komödie, Industrie, Ironie (often equal to words ending in -y in English)

    • Names of aircraft, ships and motorbikes:
      die Boeing 747, die Titanic, die BMW (motorbike only; the car is der BMW). The die comes from die Maschine, which can mean plane, motorbike and engine. - Helpful reminder: ships are often referred to as “she” in English.

    • Nouns ending in -ik:
      die Grammatik, Grafik, Klinik, Musik, Panik, Physik - except das Mosaik.

    • Borrowed (foreign) nouns ending in -ade, -age, -anz, -enz, -ette, -ine, -ion, -tur:
      Parade, Blamage (shame), Bilanz, Distanz, Frequenz, Serviette (napkin), Limonade, Nation, Konjunktur (economic trend). Note: Such words often resemble their English equivalent. A rare -ade exception: der Nomade.

    • Cardinal numbers:
      eine Eins, eine Drei (a one, a three)

    Neuter (das/ein):

    • Diminutive nouns ending in -chen or -lein:
      Fräulein, Häuschen, Kaninchen, Mädchen (unmarried woman, cottage, rabbit, girl/maiden)

    • Infinitives used as nouns (gerunds), ending in -en:
      das Essen, das Schreiben (eating/food, writing)

    • Almost all of the 112 known chemical elements:
      das Aluminium, Blei, Kupfer, Uran, Zink, Zinn, Zirkonium, usw. - except for six that are masculine (see above). Note: Most of the elements end in -ium, a das ending. Chemical substances ending in -in are also neuter.

    • Names of hotels, cafés and theaters:
      das Ritz, das Starbucks and das Hilton

    • Names of colors used as nouns:
      das Blau, das Rot (blue, red)

    • The letters:
      das A, das B, etc.

    +1... I think this should be the real answer :). Anyway as far as names are concerned the neuter examples are neuter because hotel, cafe and theater are neuter words in German and thus it is also das Cinemax because it is das Kino. Accordingly it is der Aldi, der Kaiser's because it is der Supermarkt and that's what they are. It is also der McDonalds and der Burger King but I think the reason here is that the names strongly indicate a male person. It is das Subway as far as I would say but for KFC I am actually not sure. Anyway it also is die CeBit (die Konferenz) and die Ray Ban (die Brille)

    While these rules are true, I'm not a fan when it comes to learn German, because if you want to be fluently communicating, you can't be thinking in rules while speaking for example. Thinking in the rule blocks your brain, so in order to avoid that, it is recommendable to learn the article and the noun as one element. In your mind, it has to be "der Hund" not "Hund, maskulin also 'der'".

    Obviously, it isn't that easy: Names of hotels, cafés and so on might be "normal" words, such as "der Domhof" (meaning the cathedral's court; a hotel in Speyer) or "die Lila Eule" (purple owl; club in Bremen). In that case, the gender is according to that word. Putting articles in front of proper names such as Aldi, Lidl, McDonald's and Burger King is only common in Southern Germany: "Ich gehe zum Aldi"/"Ich schaffe beim Daimler" (Stuttgart) vs. "Ich gehe zu Aldi"/"Ich arbeite bei Blohm" (Hamburg)

    **EXCEPTIONS!!!: Winds** that are not male: die Bise, die Bora, die Brüscha, das Mailüfterl, die Ora, die Tramontana. **Precipitations** that are not male: das Kondenswasser, das Nebelnässen, das Raueis, das Schneetreiben. **Cars** that are not male: die Göttin (Citroën DS), die Ente (Citroën_2CV), die Isetta (BMW), die Triumph Spitfire, die Giulia und die Giulietta (both Alpha Romeo) die Plymouth Caravelle, die Isabella und die Arabella (both Borgward), die Corvette. **Trains** that are not male: das Krokodil. **Ending in -ung** but not female: der Dung.

    **All cardinal Numbers in Austrian German**: Der Einser, der Zweier, der Dreier. **Hotels and Cafés** that are not neuter: Der Kaiserhof, der Demel

    Der Beduine ist eine weitere Ausnahme.

    This certainly helps, but doesn't cover the simple, basic words. Why the hell is "Tür" feminine but "Schrank" is masculine? To me, it does barely make sense to rank rules on when to use which gender, since you'll have to learn it for 99% of all words seperately anway.

    I built an app that teaches these rules in the context of learning the 5000 most common nouns with SRS. Android:;hl=en iTunes:;ign-mpt=uo%3D4

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution

Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM