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Most English speakers struggle with the concept of different genders. In English everything is ‘the’ and all of a sudden it needs to be converted into ‘der, die, das’ . The majority of textbooks don’t help either, as they usually say that there are so many complicated rules, it’s best to just learn the new nouns with the correct gender. To an extent they are right, because to a lot of rules there are exceptions. Some, however, are straight forward and they are the ones you’ll find on this infographic.

There is also one other thing to remember: the gender goes with the word and not the item. Although female people have the feminine gender ‘die’, the word for girl is ‘das Mädchen’ because words ending in -chen are always neuter. The word for train is either ‘der Zug’ or ‘die Bahn’. That doesn’t mean a German train is either masculine or feminine. It just means the words are.

I would like to tell you that it isn’t really that complicated, but I have a sneaky feeling you won’t believe me anyway 😆

So I won’t even try and just leave you with this:

German gender - der, die das

Edit: If you’d like to learn more about German gender, check out my Udemy course: German grammar – gender: is it der, die or das?

The following two videos are taken from the course to show you what you’ll get:

Or, if you’d rather read a book instead of watching videos, you can now buy my book German Gender: is it der, die or das? It’s available as paperback

or kindle version

16 Responses

  1. “The word for train is either ‘der Zug’ or ‘die Bahn’. That doesn’t mean a German train is either masculine or feminine. It just means the words are.”

    There are studies, however, which indicate that gender does indeed influence the perception of a word. Take “the bridge”, for example. Germans perceive “die Brücke” (feminine) as a fragile thing that connects other things – think of the Golden Gate Bridge – while Frenchs would rather consider “le pont” (masculine) as something strong and sturdy, like the stone bridges over the Seine in Paris. The problem is even more distinct with the sun and moon (female/male in German, male/female French).

    The power of the gender is in fact so strong that it can trespass into other languages. A persistent problem I have with English animal names, for instance. Reading about “the cat strolling through the house”, I inevitably associate it with “die Katze” (feminine) and imagine a female cat – when there suddenly is a “he” three paragraphs later, I stumble and have to reread the whole passage, forcing a different mental image into my mind. And you cannot imagine my wonder when I found out that the Mirkwood Spiders are males!

    Another benefit of gender is the fun that you can have with personifications. Slavic artists use the fact that “Death” is female in their languages in creative ways that simply wouldn’t work in English or German – take that, Terry Pratchett!

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