I am always puzzled about the pronunciation of the german suffix '-e' and '-er'.

What I want so say is, that I could not hear the difference between them clearly if it were not for the article that defines the gender of the noun.
I also can't pronounce them as clearly as I should to show their obvious difference.

For instance:

ein Deutscher \ eine Deutsche,
ein schöner... \ eine schöne...

I guess that native German speakers don't take it as a big problem, because, as I said, the gender and the function of the noun in the sentence tell everything I want to express.

Is that right??

  • I am not completely sure what the question is.
    – Carsten S
    Dec 21, 2014 at 15:20
  • 3
    My guess is that your problem arises because German has two distinct central vowels: The "normal" Schwa and the a-Schwa, whereas in English the two are allophones.
    – Chris
    Dec 21, 2014 at 18:37
  • The distinction between -e and -er is very hard for most English speakers, and often neglected in German classes for nonnative speakers. It also lies at the heart of the debate about the correct pronunciation of Porsche. Dec 21, 2014 at 18:41

1 Answer 1


One word of consolation up front: Even natives sometimes have to ask …

Your observation is correct. The differences in pronunciation are rather subtle, especially if the speaker doesn't enunciate clearly.

But you have more than just articles to help you: Consider adjectives, whose form must match the noun, too. Sometimes it's just hearing it twice that does the trick:

schöner Deutscher vs. schöne Deutsche.

And there's always the context …

  • 1
    and on the region... in Berlin for example it will be incredibly clear. "er" is "ah" and "e" is "e"
    – Emanuel
    Dec 21, 2014 at 23:13

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