Gender of common nouns in German

Determining the gender of German nouns is a nightmare for many. As English nouns don’t have gender, this can be quite a task to puzzle out. Here are a few rules to guide your learning of the genders:

Two basic rules

Compound words always take the gender of the final word.
  • die Schule – die Hochschule, die Grundschule, die Kunstschule
Nouns derived from adjectives and infinitives are always neutral.
  • das Lachen, das Fahren
    (laughter, driving)
  • das Böse, das Schöne
    (the good, the beautiful)

The gender in relation to the meaning of the noun

  • Masculine nouns:

    • Names related to meteorology (except das Eis and das Gewitter)
      der Regen, der Blitz
      (the rain, the lightning)
    • Names of days, months, and seasons
      der Montag, der Juni, der Sommer
      (Monday, June, summer)
    • Names of stones and planets (except die Erde and die Sonne)
      der Rubin, der Stern
      (the ruby, the star)
  • Feminine nouns:

    • The majority of flower and tree names
      die Kiefer, die Tulpe
      (the pine, the tulip)
    • Names of numbers and figures
      die Null, die Acht
      (zero, eight)
  • Neutral nouns:

    • The names of metals and chemical elements (except in –stoff)
      das Blei, das Eisen
      (lead, iron)
    • Color names
      das Rot, das Grün
      (red, green)
    • Letter names
      das A, das Z
      (the A, the Z)
    • Language names
      das Deutsch, das Französisch
      (German, French)

The gender in relation to the morphology of the noun

  • Masculine nouns:

    • Most nouns derived from verbs
      der Zug (ziehen)—the train, der Schlag (schlagen)—the blow
    • Many nouns ending in –er and –ler
      der Fleischer, der Sportler
      (the butcher, the athlete)
    • Many nouns ending in –ig, –ich, and –ling
      der Honig, der Teppich, der Lehrling
      (the honey, the carpet, the apprentice)
    • Nouns of foreign origin, -är, -eur, -ier, -ismus, or -ist
      der Friseur, der Bankier, der Kolonialismus, der Jurist
      (the hairdresser, the banker, colonialism, the lawyer)
  • Feminine nouns:

    • Nouns ending in -e, -ei, -in, -heit, -keit, -schaft, and -ung
      die Bäckerei, die Studentin, die Schönheit, die Wirklichkeit, die Eigenschaft
      (the Bakery, student, beauty, reality, quality)
    • Foreign nouns ending in -ade, -age, -anz, -ie, -ik, -ion, -tät, -ur, or -ose
      die Schokolade, die Garage, die Allianz, die Biologie, die Musik, die Lektion, die Qualität, die Tastatur, die Osmose
      (chocolate, garage, alliance, biology, music, lesson, quality, keyboard, osmosis)
  • Neutral nouns:

    • Nouns beginning with Ge- when describing an activity or a plural form
      das Gebirge, das Geschrei
      (mountains, shouts)
    • Careful, some nouns with Ge- are not neutral
      die Gefahr, der Gedanke
      (danger, thought)
    • Most nouns ending in -chen, -lein, -tel, or -tum
      das Mädchen, das Entlein, das Drittel, das Wachstum
      (girl, duckling, third, growth)
    • Foreign nouns ending in -eau, -ment, -o, or -um
      das Niveau, das Abonnement, das Büro, das Stadium
      (level, subscription, office, stadium)
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Noun gender in German

Check your knowledge of German nouns with their genders!


Questions:

10

Level:

3-Advanced