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I was reading about Geography in German and the following sentence appeared:

Die Niagarafälle sind bekannte Wasserfälle zwischen den USA und Kanada.

Now, with specific nouns regarding places (Niagara Falls above) I was thinking

Do all nouns related to a location have the same gender i.e. "Die" or is it case specific i.e. they vary for each noun?

I haven't been able to find a convenient answer thus far.

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  • See also this question about gender of rivers in germany
    – Tode
    Jan 29 '19 at 10:22
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    Niagarafälle is plural (singular: der Fall, plural: die Fälle). So the die is there not because of gender but because of the plural.
    – RHa
    Jan 31 '19 at 10:32
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The gender of Niagara Falls in German is not that of the proper noun "Niagara" (whatever that might be), but rather that of a "normal" noun - "der Fall" (m), or here in the plural, "die Fälle".

German (like English) often adds a "normal" noun to the proper noun of remote places to make sure people know what we're talking about - The gender of the whole name is then that of the "normal" noun like in

  • der Berg Sinai
  • der See Genezareth
  • der Sambesi-Fluss
  • das Kaspische Meer
  • die Wüste Gobi
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  • Brilliant. Such a simple explanation that I can't seem to find anywhere else as clear as yours. Cheers!
    – vik1245
    Jan 28 '19 at 23:38
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    And those "normal" nouns often don't even have to be there. It's still der Sinai, der Sambesi or die Gobi.
    – Janka
    Jan 29 '19 at 0:00
  • @Janka Dangerous: der Himalaya vs. das Himalaya-Gebirge
    – tofro
    Jan 29 '19 at 7:39
  • Maybe a slight addition: "Fall" is a little bit special in that it is a shortened form of the noun that would be used on its own, "Wasserfall". Without a proper name such as "Niagara" placed in front of "Fall" (or "Fälle"), no-one will know what you are talking about if you just say "Fall" instead of "Wasserfall". Jan 31 '19 at 12:20
  • @O.R.Mapper Admittedly, I rarely hear "Fall" (meaning falling water) alone. In an article about Niagara Falls, you might, however, find a lot of occurrences of "Fälle" without the proper name. Example: The Wikipedia Article on "Niagarafälle" contains 11 occurences of "Niagarafälle" and 20 occurrences of "Fälle".
    – tofro
    Jan 31 '19 at 13:10

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