I'm going to see the dentist today.

If the dentist is female, should I say

(a) Ich gehe heute zur Zahnärztin.


(b) Ich gehe heute zum Zahnarzt.

I think (a) should be the correct version, but I'm not sure whether it's idiomatic. (Perhaps "zum Zahnarzt" is a fixed phrase.)

3 Answers 3


Is the gender important for your statement? In this case: probably no. So use the "neutral" form which is almost always the male form.

If you want to express that you are going to that type of person (or shop...) who will finally fix that rotten tooth / cut your hair / bake & sell bread... you go

"zum Zahnarzt" / "zum Friseur" / "zum Bäcker"...

Once you are not making a general statement but are talking about the individual, the gender should be correct.:

Ich gehe zu der Zahnärztin in der Goethestraße -> female
Meine Friseurin(*) hat ... -> female

There are some exceptions to the "neutral" = "male" rule: "Katze", "Hebamme" (perhaps s.o. else can come up with more examples?) use the female for general / "neutral" statements.

(*) Don't use "Friseuse" please!

  • 3
    This may lead to a conversation like this: A: "Ich geh' heute zum Zahnarzt (male form)." - B: "Zur Kontrolle?" - A: "Nein, sie (female) zieht mir heute einen Zahn."
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 7:46
  • 2
    Krankenschwester ... männliche Pfleger nennen sich auch manchmal so. Ansonsten gibt's bei Tieren noch so einige Beispiele
    – Emanuel
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 12:01
  • 1
    @Emanuel Eine "Krankenschwester" hat mir mal unwirsch entgegengehalten, dass sie keine Nonne sei. Korrekt heißt es "Gesundheits- und Krankenpfleger".
    – user4973
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 16:22
  • Oh ja, der Unterschied zwischen formaler und umgangssprachlicher Berufsbezeichnung...
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 16:24
  • 1
    Es gibt keinen Grund von Friseuse generell abzuraten. Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 23:04

I would stick with the generic masculine version unless the dentists gender matters for some reason. A possibility where (a) might be used is when there are two dentists, one male, one female, and stating gender might clarify which one you are going to see.

Another widely used option would be

Ich habe heute einen Zahnarzttermin.

which makes clear that this is a fixed appointment that can not be easily shifted to some other time.


The correct answer will depend on your opinions on gender neutral language.

In certain Bundesländer in Germany, the law proscribes the use of "gender fair" language in official texts such as job ads for teachers. This does not mean that every person has to say "Zahnärztin", but it shows how much awareness for this subject has come. There are women who are offended, some extremely so, by having the male version of their job name applied to them, while others even prefer the male version, which they consider neutral. In the end what you say will depend on how you feel about this topic, or if you want to act politically correct despite other views.

My son, who is seven, says "Zahnärztin", because obviously she is a woman. He corrects me, when I say "Zahnarzt".

  • 2
    Es gibt keine übergreifend, politisch korrekte Form sondern nur verschiedene politische Anschauungen, bzw. die sprachwissenschaftlichen Evidenzen werden entweder einer politischen Ansicht zu Liebe geopfert, was selbst wieder ein politisches Statement ist, oder man hält an dem, was man für sprachlich richtig erkannt hat fest, auch wenn es politischen Einflußgruppen missfällt, die es partout anders deuten wollen. Sprachwissenschaftlich richtig wird es dadurch aber nicht. Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 23:12
  • Da bin ich anderer Meinung, und zwar in Hinsicht auf mehrere Aspekte deines Kommentars, aber das wäre off topic.
    – user4973
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 23:27

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