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How to learn German genders!

When you're learning German, it's important to remember that the word, not the thing, has a gender.

English words also have a gender - it's just not as obvious. Girl is a feminine word, boy is masculine, and table is neutral. This makes sense. A girl is feminine, a boy is masculine, and a table is an inanimate object. How can a table have a gender?

Note: Some objects, such as boats, have a gender in English.

In German, it is different. In German, gender is not defined by the gender of the noun, but by the meaning and form of the word. Originally, gender in German was intended to denote three grammatical categories into which words could be divided.

The three categories were:

Endings, which indicate that a word is of neutral origin.

Endings that denoted a group of persons or things. These became feminine.

Nouns that had no ending. These remained masculine.

This is what we are left with today, and in a rather convoluted way! You can at least see how we can then distinguish between words that are grouped based on their intended gender, rather than the gender of an object itself.

Instead of arguing about whether a table should be masculine, feminine, or neutral (for the record, it is masculine - der Tisch), we can begin to understand why this is the case. You can argue about why until you're blue in the face, but the fact is that gender is something you have to learn.

My best advice is this: don't worry too much about the gender in German. Instead, focus on how to best remember the genders of words.

With that in mind, let's see how learning German genders can be made easy.

Shortcuts for finding out the gender of German nouns.

Although some words require you to memorize the gender, there are many cases where you can find out the gender by looking at the ending of a word.

In this section, I refer to definite articles and indefinite articles. The, the, and the are definite articles that replace the English word "the", while a and an are the indefinite articles for "a"/"an". These articles are used to determine the gender of the noun they accompany.

How to identify masculine nouns in German (der/ein).

Masculine German nouns have the definite article der (der) and the indefinite article ein (a/an).

To find out if a word is masculine, look for the following word endings:

-er, -el, -ling, -ich, -ig, -ner, -ism, -or, -us, -eich, -ant.

If you follow this rule, you will be correct about 80% of the time.

Also, anything to do with calendar dates is usually masculine - days, months, and seasons fall into this category.

Finally, male animals and weather elements are also usually male.

From this, you can deduce that the following words are masculine:

der Autor (author)

der Vater (father )

der Mittwoch (Wednesday )

der Regen (rain )*

How to recognize feminine nouns in German (die/eine).

Feminine nouns in German are written with the definite article die (the) and the indefinite article eine (a/an).

As with masculine nouns, the easiest way to recognize a feminine noun is by its word ending. Look for the following word endings:

-e (usually, because the exception is masculine persons or animals, such as the lion), -ie, -heit, -ei, -in, -ik, -keit, - schaft, -ung, -tät, -ur, -tion.

Funnily enough, even things normally associated with femininity are usually feminine - like flowers and trees, but also female animals and humans.

die Blume (flower)

die Familie (family)

die Mannschaft (team)

How to recognize neutral nouns in German (das/ein).

Neutral German nouns have the definite article das and the indefinite article ein.

To recognize neutral nouns, look for the following word endings:

-chen, -o, -lein, -en, -il, -ma, -tel, -ment, -nis, -tum, -um.

Most inanimate objects fall into the "neutral" category. Even most metals and babies (both human and animal) have neutral genders.

Let's look at some examples.

das Kind (child )

das Fragment (fragment )

das Gold (gold)

Stay tuned for more!


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