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I have a question regarding the genitive endings for masculine and neuter nouns, for example das Kind. I would like to know the gender of des Kinds and des Kindes. Are they neuter or masculine?

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    Gender doesn't change with case. Gender is a property of a noun, and case is a property of a sentence part. – Janka Apr 13 '17 at 0:20
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    @Janka this is an important revelation for learners, and I think you should turn this into a proper answer, for posteriority, with a bit more detail. Accordingly, I voted "Leave Open", despite being a general reference question. – hiergiltdiestfu Apr 13 '17 at 7:08
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    I wasn't aware of the general confusion about this. Well, vote for Huberts answer instead, it's comprehensive. – Janka Apr 13 '17 at 18:54
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Every German noun has a fixed and unchangeable grammatical gender. (There are nouns that can be used in two or even all three genders, but they are rare exceptions. I'm not going to talk about them here. But even this rare multi-gender nouns never can change their gender.)

A noun's gender is an intrinsic property of that noun, that under no circumstances will change. This is why you can look up each noun's gender in a dictionary without needing any knowledge about the concrete usage of that noun.

In German the noun

das Kind

is always neuter. There is no condition thinkable, where Kind, or any inflection of Kind (Kinder, Kindes, Kinds, Kinde, Kindern) might have a gender that is not neuter. The noun Kind is always neuter. This is a very strict rule. There are no exceptions to that rule.

In a dictionary, the gender of a noun is either marked with an abbreviation of the gender in round or square brackets after the noun (i.e. n, m or f), or it is marked with its definite article for nominative case singular (der, die or das). So you will find one of there forms:

  1. Kind (n) or Kind [n]
  2. das Kind

Also remember:

A noun's gender is a property of the word itself, not a property of the thing that is named by that noun. Of course there are no neuter children. Every child is either male or female. But the German word for child (»Kind«) belongs to a noun class that is named »neuter«. So you better think of noun classes when thinking about grammatical genders. Better don't try to compare it with biological genders.

Synonyms are different words used to name the same thing. They can be used to name the same thing, but they can belong to different noun classes, i.e. they can have different genders.

All those words are German synonyms for what is called a car in English:

  • das Auto (used for any car)
  • der Wagen (mainly used for bigger limousines)
  • die Karre (used for shabby cars)

So, the very same shabby old limousine, standing in your garage, can be called a neuter Auto, a male Wagen and a female Karre in German, although the car itself of course has no biological gender (a car neither has a penis nor a vagina).

But like all other nouns, the words Auto, Wagen and Karre never ever will change their genders, no matter in which grammatical case or number they are used.


Also important:

Only nouns have a fixed and unchangeable gender. Other words (adjectives, articles, pronouns) are also used in one of the three genders, but they all inherit the gender from the noun to which they belong. So it is always the noun that dictates the gender of all words that refer to it.

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