One of the things that I really liked about German, as I was studying it in college, was the very orderly grammar, which actually helped me to understand my native English better.

As a non-native speaker, one of the hardest things for me to do is remember the correct noun genders. When I speak German, I am intelligible, but I'm sure it sounds to a native speaker much as English as a foreign language sounds to me.

Are there tips and tricks to learning genders? Are there patterns that I might not be aware of that will save me from brute force memorization?

  • 17
    Bei den Worten, die mit unterschiedlichem Geschlecht gebraucht werden, ist mein Favorit > Der 1. Band von Harry Potter ist relativ kurz. > (männlich) > > Die Band spielte laute Musik. > (weiblich) > > Sie hatte das blaue Band im Haar. > (sächlich)
    – bernd_k
    Commented May 28, 2011 at 7:24
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    It's a really useless language feature, conveying next to no information at all. We should drop it like in English (or at least partially, as in Swedish).
    – Landei
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 13:12
  • 1
    Maybe this helps. But one has to study such pages again and again. passion4teq.com/articles/der-die-das-genus-regeln
    – rogermue
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 13:57
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    Have a look at Cornelia Siteware cornelia.siteware.ch/grammatik/genus.html
    – rogermue
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 14:39
  • My spoken der,die,das,den,dem,des often congeals into some non-committal abbreviation. Better to speak and slightly wrong.
    – philshem
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 13:35

25 Answers 25


It's not the actual person, place or thing that has gender in German, but the WORD that stands for the actual thing. That's why a “car” can be either das Auto (neut.) or der Wagen (masc.) or die Karre (fem.).

After searching about noun genders, from here:

Masculine (der/ein):

  • Days, months, and seasons:
    Montag, Juli, Sommer (Monday, July, summer). The one exception is das Frühjahr, another word for der Frühling (spring), because in a compound the rightmost part always determines the gender (das Jahr).

  • Points of the compass, map locations and winds:
    Nordwest(en) (northwest), Süd(en) (south), der Föhn (warm wind out of the Alps), der Scirocco (sirocco, a hot desert wind).

  • Precipitation:
    Regen, Schnee, Nebel (rain, snow, fog/mist)

  • Names of cars and trains:
    der VW, der ICE, der Mercedes (but motorbikes and aircraft are feminine).

  • Words ending in -ismus:
    Journalismus, Kommunismus, Synchronismus (equal -ism words in English)

  • Words ending in -ner or -ler:
    Rentner, Schaffner, Zentner, Zöllner (pensioner, [train] conductor, hundred-weight, customs collector), Siedler (settler). The feminine form adds -in (die Rentnerin).

  • The basic "atmospheric" elements that end in -stoff:
    der Sauerstoff (oxygen), der Stickstoff (nitrogen), der Wasserstoff (hydrogen), plus der Kohlenstoff (carbon). The only other elements (out of 112) that are masculine are der Phosphor and der Schwefel (sulphur). Note: All of the other chemical elements are neuter (das Aluminium, Blei, Kupfer, Uran, Zink, usw.).

Feminine (die/eine):

  • Nouns ending in the following suffixes: -heit, -keit, -tät, -ung, -schaft:
    die Freiheit, Schnelligkeit, Universität, Zeitung, Freundschaft (freedom, quickness, university, newspaper, friendship).

  • Nouns ending in -ie:
    Drogerie, Geographie, Komödie, Industrie, Ironie (often equal to words ending in -y in English)

  • Names of aircraft, ships and motorbikes:
    die Boeing 747, die Titanic, die BMW (motorbike only; the car is der BMW). The die comes from die Maschine, which can mean plane, motorbike and engine. - Helpful reminder: ships are often referred to as “she” in English.

  • Nouns ending in -ik:
    die Grammatik, Grafik, Klinik, Musik, Panik, Physik - except das Mosaik.

  • Borrowed (foreign) nouns ending in -ade, -age, -anz, -enz, -ette, -ine, -ion, -tur:
    Parade, Blamage (shame), Bilanz, Distanz, Frequenz, Serviette (napkin), Limonade, Nation, Konjunktur (economic trend). Note: Such words often resemble their English equivalent. A rare -ade exception: der Nomade.

  • Cardinal numbers:
    eine Eins, eine Drei (a one, a three)

Neuter (das/ein):

  • Diminutive nouns ending in -chen or -lein:
    Fräulein, Häuschen, Kaninchen, Mädchen (unmarried woman, cottage, rabbit, girl/maiden)

  • Infinitives used as nouns (gerunds), ending in -en:
    das Essen, das Schreiben (eating/food, writing)

  • Almost all of the 112 known chemical elements:
    das Aluminium, Blei, Kupfer, Uran, Zink, Zinn, Zirkonium, usw. - except for six that are masculine (see above). Note: Most of the elements end in -ium, a das ending. Chemical substances ending in -in are also neuter.

  • Names of hotels, cafés and theaters:
    das Ritz, das Starbucks and das Hilton

  • Names of colors used as nouns:
    das Blau, das Rot (blue, red)

  • The letters:
    das A, das B, etc.

  • 15
    +1... I think this should be the real answer :). Anyway as far as names are concerned the neuter examples are neuter because hotel, cafe and theater are neuter words in German and thus it is also das Cinemax because it is das Kino. Accordingly it is der Aldi, der Kaiser's because it is der Supermarkt and that's what they are. It is also der McDonalds and der Burger King but I think the reason here is that the names strongly indicate a male person. It is das Subway as far as I would say but for KFC I am actually not sure. Anyway it also is die CeBit (die Konferenz) and die Ray Ban (die Brille)
    – Emanuel
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 11:01
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    While these rules are true, I'm not a fan when it comes to learn German, because if you want to be fluently communicating, you can't be thinking in rules while speaking for example. Thinking in the rule blocks your brain, so in order to avoid that, it is recommendable to learn the article and the noun as one element. In your mind, it has to be "der Hund" not "Hund, maskulin also 'der'".
    – konkret
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 14:45
  • Obviously, it isn't that easy: Names of hotels, cafés and so on might be "normal" words, such as "der Domhof" (meaning the cathedral's court; a hotel in Speyer) or "die Lila Eule" (purple owl; club in Bremen). In that case, the gender is according to that word. Putting articles in front of proper names such as Aldi, Lidl, McDonald's and Burger King is only common in Southern Germany: canoo.net/services/OnlineGrammar/Wort/Artikel/Gebrauch/… "Ich gehe zum Aldi"/"Ich schaffe beim Daimler" (Stuttgart) vs. "Ich gehe zu Aldi"/"Ich arbeite bei Blohm" (Hamburg) Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 11:05
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    EXCEPTIONS!!!: Winds that are not male: die Bise, die Bora, die Brüscha, das Mailüfterl, die Ora, die Tramontana. Precipitations that are not male: das Kondenswasser, das Nebelnässen, das Raueis, das Schneetreiben. Cars that are not male: die Göttin (Citroën DS), die Ente (Citroën_2CV), die Isetta (BMW), die Triumph Spitfire, die Giulia und die Giulietta (both Alpha Romeo) die Plymouth Caravelle, die Isabella und die Arabella (both Borgward), die Corvette. Trains that are not male: das Krokodil. Ending in -ung but not female: der Dung. Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 8:05
  • 1
    All cardinal Numbers in Austrian German: Der Einser, der Zweier, der Dreier. Hotels and Cafés that are not neuter: Der Kaiserhof, der Demel Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 8:06

One obvious way (still worth pointing out) is always learning vocabulary with the "der, die, das" prefix.

If you memorize

Der Hund
Die Rose
Das Haus

instead of


you learn the gender automatically along the way — not unlike Latin (Rosa, Rosae, Rosam).

  • 26
    Basically, that's exactly what Germans do as well.
    – Tomalak
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 19:55
  • 63
    The frustrating thing about German is that the articles look like other articles depending on the case, so you lose that 1:1 coherence. In French, I will always hear and see "la lune" no matter what the structure of the sentence is. In German, I will hear "die Rose" sometimes and "der Rose" other times (dative/genitive case).
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 20:03
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    In addition to studying the article along with the noun, you should probably also include the plural form on your flashcards (or however you're studying).
    – Arthaey
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 20:10
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    @Kosmonaut: learning the article like Pekka suggests, is a good way. It is always understood as the nominative and there is a 1:1 correspondence in this case between gender and article. The frustrating thing about German from a French perspective is that the gender are not always the same :-).
    – ogerard
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 7:13
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    @Markus "the plural of german nouns are always female" - No, the plural article is always "die" - that does not mean it is female. It just means it's plural.
    – Tomalak
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 9:14

Generally I think we have to just learn them, but here are some patterns I've been told:

  • Word ends with "a" -> feminine (die Sauna)
  • Word ends with "e" -> feminine (die Tasche, die Küche)
  • Word ends with "ung" -> feminine (die Entscheidung)
  • Word ends with "chen" -> neutral (das Mädchen, das Märchen)
  • Word comes from a foreign language -> neutral (das Hotel, das Restaurant)
    Though I feel that rule doesn't always work so well (der Computer?)

Not related to genders, but also one rule I like:

  • Word ends with "er" -> plural form also ends with "er" (ein Rechner, zwei Rechner)
  • 8
    These are nice, +1, but to be taken with a grain of salt. The "e" one has exceptions, e.g. Das Gelage, Der Eine, but is mostly correct. The "ung" rule works as long as it is formed from a verb (Bebauung, Bedachung) but not if it just happens to be the end part of the word (Der Sprung); I would forget the foreign one - too many arbitrary genderizations here (Der Bra, Die Gendarmerie, Der Coupon)
    – Pekka
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 19:50
  • 5
    Loanwords often take the gender of a native synonym or equivalent. e.g. Der Bra (Der Büstenhalter), Die Gendarmarie (Die Polizei), Der Coupon = (Der Gutschein).
    – misterben
    Commented May 24, 2011 at 20:35
  • 4
    @Christopher: you can also add all words in "heit" as feminine (die Wahrheit, die Gesundheit, die Krankheit). Even die Arbeit :-)
    – ogerard
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 7:18
  • 4
    @Pekka and Christopher: To me it seems that the rule for loan words works more often the less the word is ingrained in the language. So words like der Cappucino, der Computer, and der Coupon should be considered German, but words like das Tikka Masala, das Sushi and das Taekwondo are truly foreign and hence neutral.
    – Stovner
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 7:39
  • 5
    @misterben: I think this is a quite useful hint, as it also explains why artficial words like "Nutella" have more than one gender. ("Der Aufstrich", "Die Creme", "Das Zeug aus der Werbung" ^^)
    – ladybug
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 15:17

As the others have said, at the end of the day, you really just have to memorize them. I found a little list of generalizations regarding regular, genitive, and plural noun endings and their associated genders, but I stress that they are no more than generalizations. That does not mean that there are no exceptions!

I'll go ahead and copy them below, but it's easier to read at the source.


  • -ant, -en, -en; vs. das Spant
  • -ar, -(e)s, -e; vs. -aar in das Haar; Paar and das Mobiliar; Radar; Dromedar; Exemplar; Okular; Formular; Seminar and die Bar; Schar
  • -ent, -en, -en; vs. das Talent; Präsent; Prozent
  • -eur, -s, -e;
  • -ist, -en, -en; vs. die List; Frist
  • -ius, -, -se; except das (Grad) Celsius
  • -ling, -s, -e; vs. das Recycl+ing and die Reling
  • -mus, -, men; except compounds with das Mus
  • -tor, -s, -en; except compounds with das Tor and das Kontor (but also der Kontor)


  • -anz, -, -en; vs. der Kranz; Glanz; Tanz; Schwanz, -es, ⸚en
  • -ei, -, -en; vs. der Papagei, -en/-s, -en; Brei, -(e)s, -en/-s; Schrei, -s, -en and das Blei; Geschrei, -s, (-en); Bohei; Einerlei, -s, -s
  • -elle, -, -en; vs. der Geselle, -n, -n
  • -enz, -, -en; vs. der Lenz, -es, -en
  • -ette, -, -n; vs. silent -e in das Raclette; Roulette; Baguette, -es, -es
  • -euse, -, -n;
  • -heit, -, -en; vs. sch in der Scheit
  • -ie, -, -ien; vs. diphthong in der Laie, -n, -n, exception der Sellerie, -(s), -(s) and anglicisms der Zombie, Oldie, Junkie, Collie, Hippie, Yuppie, -s, -s and das Knie, -s, -n; Genie, -s, -s
  • -ik, -, -en; vs. das Mosaik, -s, -en
  • -in, -, -nen; vs. -ein as in der Wein, das Bein, Schwein, Sein, anglicisms der Gin; Spin; Skin(head), other loan words der Rubin; Delfin; Harlekin; Zeppelin; Kamin; Termin; Urin; Mokassin; Ruin; Pinguin, das Magazin, Trampolin, chemical substances like das Kokain, Heroin, Vitamin, Benzin, Dioxin, Penicillin and gallicisms das Terrain, Bassin, Dessin, Mannequin and der Refrain
  • -ine, -, -n; vs. der Gemeine, -n, -n
  • -ion, -, -en; vs. der Spion; Skorpion
  • -ive, -, -n;
  • -keit, -, -en;
  • -schaft, -, -en; except compounds with der Schaft
  • -tät, -, -en;
  • -ung, -, -en; vs. der Nibelung, -en, -en; Sprung, -s, ⸚en; Schwung, -s, ⸚en
  • -ur, -, -en; vs. der Flur; Schwur


  • -chen, -s, -; but after single dark a, e, o or u: der Rachen, Drachen, Knochen, Rechen, Kuchen and of course sch: der Groschen
  • -ium, -s, ien;
  • -lein, -s, -;
  • -ment, -s, -e; vs. der Zement, (Piment), Moment, Konsument
  • -nis, -nisse
  • -erl
  • -tum, -er
  • infinitives, verbs when used as nouns
  • For several of these suffixes, especially the ones from loan words, there are less exceptions if one only considers complex, multi-syllable words. Some vowels may be part of a diphthong not the apparent suffix, e.g. der Lai+e not *die La+ie. Some suffixes contain another: -in F vs. -lein N, -ur F vs. -eur M, -ment N vs. -ent M.
    – Crissov
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 11:49
  • 1
    @FrazerKirkman: Die Finsternis, die Erkenntnis, die Fäulnis, der Kerl Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 9:07
  • "That does not mean that there are no exceptions!" :) Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 18:38
  • I built an app that teaches these rules in the context of learning the 5000 most common nouns with SRS. Android: play.google.com/store/apps/… iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/app/german-grammar-spy/… Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 11:43

It really is learning-by-heart, for the most part. There is no clean method to guess your way though, and no reliable pattern to learn.

There is one simple rule though to determine the gender of a composite noun - it always has the gender of the last noun in the composition

der Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän
---------------------------------------^^^^^^^ der …Kapitän

Sometimes you can make an educated guess. Nouns that describe "traditionally" male things (like being the captain of a ship) very likely also have a male gender. This works very well with nouns for professions - der Schmied (blacksmith), der Bäcker (baker), der Fahrer (driver). You could extend that to "male" traits like boldness, aggressiveness, bravery, which would explain why it is der Löwe (lion) or der Hirsch (deer).

Words that end in "…mann" are also very easy ;) - both for obvious reasons and as per the rule for composite nouns explained above.

But already with neuter/female it's not that simple, since it's die Frau (woman, female) but das Mädchen (girl, neuter!) but die Schaufel (shovel, female again!).

  • 1
    That would be two Fs instead of three :|
    – lowerkey
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 15:52
  • @herrturtur You are right, with the old orthography rules it would. I usually write in old orthography, but for this case I figured it would be better to use the official version.
    – Tomalak
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 15:58
  • Just learned the new word Orthography, I take it to mean Rechtschreibung? Three Fs just looks better. I don't know what they were thinking.
    – lowerkey
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 16:01
  • @herrturtur Yes, that's what it means. ;) I think "fff" is a pain to look at. I've learned in school that two is right, and so I'm sticking to it. See canoo.net
    – Tomalak
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 18:43
  • Strange, for some reason I had the before/after of the reforms mixed up. Thanks for the link! Do you ever use dict.leo.org? Not exactly on topic, but a great resource nonetheless.
    – lowerkey
    Commented Nov 21, 2011 at 18:51

As a tip or trick, it may be worth considering the technique proposed by Dominic O'Brien in his book How To Develop A Perfect Memory.

The basic idea is that you take advantage of the natural human ability to memorize locations and spatial relationships.

Specifically, you choose a town that you know very well and divide it into three 'districts,' each of which corresponds to one of the genders of the German language. As you learn a new word (always with gender, as others have suggested), you will assign it a 'key image' and place it somewhere in the appropriate district.

An example from the text (all of which is available at the above link):

Die Tür (a door): My key image is of a sign saying 'detour' with a big arrow pointing left. It's a feminine word, so I go somewhere in the feminine district of town where there is a door. The museum has a grand old oak entrance (location). I imagine that a big sign has been stuck on the outside of the door announcing a 'detour'. People are filing past, tut-tutting, as they make their way round to a side entrance.

  • 1
    If you're curious, this seems pretty similar to the "method of loci" I learned about in a psychology class a couple of years ago.
    – kitukwfyer
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 19:39
  • 3
    +1 for the unusual idea. One of the other students in my German course associates colors with the various genders.
    – nibot
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 10:41

As a long-time active learner of German language I can tell you that all these rules about how the gender of a certain word can be inferred using its ending or its category: they can help you to come up with a good guess if you don't have a dictionary at hand, but they won't help you much during a conversation or while writing an email. At least I couldn't make any use of them after several attempt to memorize these groups. So, they are very useful as a reference or a rule of thumb, but not for learning words.

The most useful that worked for me, a person of a visual type mostly using his eyes for memorizing new words, is to write down the words without translation a the A4-page folded twice (so that it becomes A6) and cut on one side for easier browsing. For every word you write down you just add the last letter of the corresponding article before it, like for example "r Name", "r Bedarf", "e Mail", "s Taxi", "r Schein" etc. Looking at those helped me a lot later to remember the correct gender just by remembering what letter I had before the word on my cheat sheet.

Another good method I used for some time is to use some Firefox add-ons for training. One add-on called "Artikeltrainer" allows you to turn all articles on every webpage into drop-down lists, so you can easily test yourself how good you remember the genders.

Even better I found another Firefox Add-on I do not find anymore which colorized the words on the current webpage depending upon their gender. It is a pleasure to read Wikipedia article in German and see the genders of every word immediately, it helps later on to recall the gender by just trying to remember what color the word was marked with.

  • This is a nice addon for learners indeed.
    – Takkat
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 10:11

When I was learning French in school, there was basically the same problem.
What my teacher wanted us to do was learn vocabulary with the article (like Pekka suggested) and also color the words in gender-specific colors.
As you can imagine we used blue for male and red for female words, but since there were no neutral words in French (as far as I remember), you may come up with a corresponding color yourself :)

This visual aide seemed to work pretty fine.


I've learned the genders by heart, but they're somehow grouped in my memory so that I remember that a certain class of words belong to a certain gender.

So far nobody has pointed out that there are homophonic words having different gender. Luckily there are some rules to differentiate them, such as "-er is masculine when it denotes somebody/something that does, neutral if it doesn't": Der Messer ("gauge") mißt etwas, das Messer ("knife") mißt nichts, Der Leiter ("leader") leitet etwas, die Leiter ("ladder") leitet nicht.

  • Dann gibt's natürlich noch die Leiter, die leiten. Commented May 31, 2011 at 22:05
  • 3
    +1 for the der/die Messer example. Curious how many stumbling blocks there are that you aren't even aware of as a native speaker.
    – Tomalak
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 16:03
  • Especially nice for male/female pairs in combination with different cases: "Wodurch unterscheidet sich der Leiter von der Leiter? Wodurch der See von der See? Und wodurch der Mast von der Mast?"
    – celtschk
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 20:13

Simple, non-derived words have to be learned together with their inherent gender. They often have just one syllable or a complex one followed by a weak schwa syllable (or syllabic sonorant) and occur quite frequently.

Derivation rules

The rightmost part of a compound always determines its gender and its noun class (for inflection). This rightmost part may be a derivational morpheme that does not exist isolated and may not be productive any more. The list of these, which includes native and adopted foreign ones, is finite and should be learned by examples early on. Each suffix only works with one kind of stem (noun, verb, adjective) and there are ones for every relation, but some look alike at first. Many of these can be chained [see diagram], but nominal ones only in masc.-fem.-neut. order, and each one has to obey the previous rule; combinations of three or more derivational suffixes are rather rare, but plural and case suffix (GenSg or DatPl) may follow.

wichtigste native kategorienverändernde Derivationsmorpheme des Deutschen nach Eisenberg

Some affixes look and sound ambiguous, e.g. ending -er appears in non-productive indoeuropean kin marker {+ter|+der} as in Schwester, Bruder and in strong masculine adjectives used as nouns like Erster, Grüner and in agent markers {+er|+ner|+ler} (which has non-native variants {+er|+eur|+ör|+or|+ier|…} and may be followed by female marker {+in}) and in certain umlaut plurals like Kind+er, Wäld+er and in certain non-masculine high-frequency words like die Butter, das Wetter.

General rules

There are five regular nominal plural forms in German: E, N, R, S and ∅. The final, empty allomorph is often really one of the others with the stem already ending that way. The consonants are often either syllabic or succeed a schwa that may or may not be present in NomSg. IIRC, umlauted plural stems only occur for E and R (and their ∅ variants), hence Ë and R̈. You can construct noun classes from that which somewhat correlate with gender. A lot of words are regular, but not every ending is a definite indicator for a noun class. Unless noted otherwise, the following regular native neuter words are ∅, native masculines and foreign neuters are E, foreign masculine and all feminine words are N.

Old animate male words may end in +hold, +bold, +ling, +ing and +rich, most of which are rather uncommon. Few native masculine have an ending of +ig or +ich that otherwise indicates an adjective. Singular nouns ending in +en are male with empty plural like most similar words ending in {+er, +ner, +ler} or el. Of the latter ones, -er and -el also appear with different gender. The agent morpheme {er} has the French variant {+éur, +ör} with same plural, whereas foreign alternative íer is rare S and +or is N like the Romance +ánd, +ánt, +ént, +ist, +ism-us and Greek +e, +∅.

Unambiguously native feminine suffixes are +heit, +keit, +schaft, +ung and with slightly less certainty {+ei, +lei, +rei} and, of course, animate +in that often follows +er. Foreign feminine suffixes are as numerous as regular, +énz, +ánz, +íe, +ik, +ík, +ítis, +sis, +is, +túr, úr, +atión, +ión, +itä́t, +ä́t. Just e, áge, áde, … requires more attention.

All diminutives are neuter, the usual native endings being dialectal or poetic {⸚lein, ⸚le, ⸚li, ⸚[e]l} and standard ⸚chen. Verbal infinitives with +en (otherwise a masculine indicator) used as nouns are also neuter as are most derivates with Ge+ prefix and optional +e suffix. (Action stems without obvious suffix are usually masculine, however.) Another neuter derivational morpheme ist productive +tum with R̈ and sometimes E plural. Foreign neuter suffixes are mostly regular with +át, +étt, +ín, +on, +ón and Latin +mént, whereas French and English +mént has S plural and +ium, +um often have no plural at all or retain their foreign one.

Irregularly masculine nouns ending in +e (also foreign ones) and feminine ones ending in (seemingly masculine) +er or +el also have N plural, whereas neuter words with the same endings or +en have empty plural as usual.


As you can see there are patterns, certainly; however, with the time it takes to memorize each "pattern" and their exceptions, you could have simply memorized the article with the word.

One thing that I did was write all Der nouns on a white index card, all Das nouns on a red card, and all Die nouns on a blue card. And it really did get me to associate the noun with the color.

If someone said "Buch", I would think red.

Coincidentally, I did this with the cases, too:

Nominative case = white Accusative case = red Dative case = blue

The color choices were from some mnemonic device that I came up with for myself -- and it made sense for me.

That would probably be better than trying to memorize patterns of noun gender and their many, many, many exceptions.


There are some patterns:

Some endings often demand a certain gender, e.g. -nis, -ung, -age

Another rule of thumb is that abstract words are often female.

But the "rules" cover only a very small percentage of words.


I've analyzed the data and made a visualization that helps to guide beginners about "guessing" gender of singular German nouns.

Interactive Visulazation and notes, sources, etc

enter image description here

The bigger the text (-ung), the more common it is. The higher the text is in the chart (-keit), the more likely it is one gender.

If your singular noun ends in -ung, it's 99.33% certain to be Feminin (die). In addition, the relatively large size of -ung is due to the many nouns with that ending. One notable exception: der Sprung (the jump).

Overall, 44.5% percent of singular nouns are Feminin, 36.1% are Maskulin, and 19.3% are Neuter.

N.B. the analysis deals with the simple word ending and not suffix, which gives the diminuitive -chen not 100% Neuter. A notable example is der Kuchen.

  • The -chen ending as well as -lein from you graphics actually address diminutives, like Brötchen, Kleidchen, Hütchen. Kuchen does not belong to that group, which can be detected easily, since Ku means nothings of its own. (Ku-damm in Berlin actually abbreviates Kurfürstendamm).
    – guidot
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 21:23
  • yes, please see the N.B. at the bottom.
    – philshem
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 9:53

This is rather late in the day, but I recently stumbled upon a post on "Belles Lettres" on this very topic and was much impressed.

(Note: The video is 84 minutes (!) long and includes pretty in-depth background information on linguistics, language history etc. - a lot of the things he says won't make sense if you haven't at least a nodding acquaintance with this stuff. Also, his choice of examples is sometimes a bit off, but he makes several excellent points.)

This guy does offer a (for me) somewhat surprising view on the topic:

He shows that the grammatical "genus" has only a more or less coincidental connection to "gender", because "Mann" and "Frau" were thought to be somehow "representative" of their grammatical category (genus). What had happened in early history was that people started to use additional endings to express certain aspects.

  • The first addition was a group of endings to say that "this is an inanimate object" - this became the "neuter" genus.

  • The second addition was a group of endings to say "this is a group of things/people" - this became the "feminine" genus.

  • The nouns that didn't take a new ending stayed in the "old" default form - later called the "masculine" genus.

So, no real gender, just grammatical categories that got rather muddled over time.

What this means for the question in hand is this: There are basic guiding rules but also a ton of exceptions - the rules will help somewhat, but you'll still make mistakes. This shouldn't bother you too much, because it happens to everyone. :)

The bit of the video that was really stunning was how he showed the way this allows pretty accurate predictions of what genus new words will likely develop over time. (around the 00:34 mark). This will blow your mind. :)


Since you asked 'how' to learn, I'll answer with a little technique that has proven well with my students: Domino

Domino is a game where you have to combine two pieces that, as defined by the rules, belong together. So 1:1 / 2:2 etc. and not 1:2. You get the idea.

Basically what you do if you want to modify this game for language learning purposes, is to substitute the numbers for the words, or parts of sentences, that you want to learn. So in our case would make the stones like this: [Hund | das] [Auto | die] etc... and then you grab your German learning buddies and start playing Domino.

This works well with other phenomenons as well.

Here is a link to an image search, that should get you thinking.


I moved to Germany 3,5 years ago and since then I am asking myself the same question. :)

The answers I came up with are these:

  • be patient (seriously, German is harder than other languages and you can't expect to be fluent very soon - although it depends a bit on what your native language is, plus it will affect your self esteem);
  • learn the nouns together with their article (this will make you fluent faster because you will not think a lot which article you have to use when building a sentence in a particular constellation); one note here is that it helps learn the plural also, there are some rules but also a lot of exceptions;
  • learn the few rules that apply in some cases (e.g.: plural is always die, endings in ung, tät, ik etc have always die an so on);
  • learn Grammar; if you know how Dativ, for example, is built, you will be able to tell the article for the feminine case even if you never heard the word before; Similar in other cases;
  • talk a lot; even if you are not yet fluent you should talk and ask people around to correct you; this will build your self esteem and your vocabulary:
  • hear and read a lot in German; even if you don't understand your brain will build connections for you;

If you want to have some fun while learning you can try my website: http://dreiartikel.de Good luck! :)


You should learn the words like they all told you, but there's one rule for the nominative case which will always be correct:

Singular: der Hase, die Tochter, das Fenster

Plural: die Hasen, die Töchter, die Fenster

So, every noun in this kind of plural have "die" as article. It's pretty easy and there are no exceptions.

Learning the articles of the nouns won't be hard with all those tipps and tricks you already got from the others. But you should remind yourself that german people actually don't use all those rules, they've learned to get this feeling by hearing the words with their articles. So you should learn the articles by writing and saying them. To hear what article belongs to which noun will help you a lot to get this feeling, too.

  • Careful. This only applies to nominative. in the other cases the articles differ again
    – Vogel612
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 20:04
  • 3
    @Vogel612: But it is true that all genders behave the same in plural.
    – chirlu
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 7:30

I don't have much to add to the previous answers, but since I'm trying to relearn French the question is relevant to myself, too.

Learning any language necessarily involves memorizing, be it one or more alphabets, vocabulary, grammar, colloquialisms, you name it. In my experience, flash card apps using spaced repetition (like the free Anki) work quite well. Rather than (grimly) grinding through decks, you give feedback on how easy it was to come up with each answer and the app will adjust the frequency in which you'll see individual cards again. Chances are you'll get better results on spending a couple of minutes with such an app whenever you get a chance than with extended cramming sessions.


Sample of the Superhero Technique Any written rule in this thread always requires a detour via your thinking and therefore will always be less efficient.

But there is a very intuitive and scientifically proven way of learning the German genders. Watch this short video in which I explain the Superhero-Technique. The technique does not only help you to memorize a German noun's gender but also to recall it when needed intuitively.

The main idea is, as the attached picture shows, to substitute the genders (masculine / feminine / neuter) with more memorable items like e.g. a superhero (for masculine) or a queen (for feminine) or a big fat baby (for neuter). Then you need to associate those placeholders with the noun whose gender you want to learn. The image above shows a Leguan which is masculine in German. To remember the Leguan's gender you only have to associate it with a superhero. The video goes into more detail and also has practice examples to try it out instantly.


You need to memorize them. However, do not worry, you are going to start seeing patterns and develop your intuition and it will become natural. But for that to happen you need to memorize them. And memorizing off the pages of a dictionary is very hard and boring.

That is why I offer you this application that I developed, which makes it into a game with a pleasant color palette. I initially developed it for myself and as I saw the results I decided to share it on the internet. I do recommend it to anyone who is having problems with learning the articles to try it out: https://goo.gl/Zkdf0t


I think that this app is very useful to study German articles. You can insert the words that you find during the study and the app will ask you to guess the right article of your words. It is helping me a lot!! http://itunes.apple.com/app/id1215721226


I read a book that is dedicated to this topic: Der, Die, Das: The Secrets of German Gender. It entails a comprehensive summary of all the patterns and rules concerning the proper usage of der, die and das. It offers logical explanations as to why certain words are masculine, feminine or neuter, which really helped me remember the gender of certain words. I'd recommend it to anyone struggling with the gender of nouns.


I faced the same problem regarding Genders. A simple trick: Place the tags of German genders around the house with articles. Every time some one will visit, they will ask for the same so explain them. In this way you can easily remember the articles.


Besides the many useful patterns above, my personal tip is reading a lot and reverse engineering the gender. Instead of learning the mapping of noun and its gender alone, it is more memorable to learn in some grammar context.

Normally in writing you need to know the gender and the case to arrive at correct declination (-e, or -er, ...):


Gender + Case => Declination

In contrast, for reading, you don't need to know the gender in advance but you can almost always infer them from other clues. That is what I mean by reverse engineering. Obviously, declination is given from the text. On top of that, with some grammatical foundation you will be able to identify the case (e.g. after "zu" and "mit" always follow dativ case). The only remaining term in the equation above is gender, bingo!


Declination + Case => Gender

It is definitely complicated and time-consuming to do so in the first few times, for example ""in der Stadt" and "in die Stadt" don't tell you straight away whether "Stadt" is "der" or "die" or "das". Both forms occur because of the two-way preposition "in" (the first one is dativ, the second one is accusativ). But indeed making clear of those ambiguities will as a side effect reinforce your grammatical sense of cases.


Maybe it is worth to memorize some surprising exceptions too:

die Hose
der Rock
das Mädchen (rule: diminuation)
der Busen (Büstenhalter)
die Männlichkeit (rule: -keit, -heit, ..)
das Geschlecht/Geschlechtsteil (partly logical)


What makes learning by heart a little bit more hard, is that in some grammatical cases "die" transfers to "der" as in:

Die Jungen [plural] spielten mit dem Mädchen mit der roten Hose.

A sentence which tries to drive grammatical transforms to the edge:

Der Rock der zwei Mädchen war länger als die Hose des dritten Mädchens, der der BH zu groß war.

  • Nach welchem Kriterium sind das Überraschungen? "Das Weib" ist sächlich und "die Sache" weiblich - das würde ich noch gelten lassen. Wenn Rock eine Überraschung ist, dann auch die Bohrmaschine, der Lippenstift, das Auto, die Pfeife - tausende und abertausende Dinge. Wo ist da die Überraschung? Dass die naive Idee, das sprachliche Geschlecht hätte etwas mit dem biologischen oder sozialen zu tun, falsch ist? Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 21:15
  • Gibt es ein Kriterium für Überraschungen? Die erlaubt sind? Es ging hier um Menschen, die Deutsch lernen. Ich kenne welche. Aber man sollte bestimmt ne Statistik anfertigen. Und Humor. Da sollte man drüber diskutieren, ob das erlaubt ist.
    – Philm
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 2:18
  • Sicher gibt es Kriterien für Überraschungen. Meinst Du jeder kann sich aussuchen, was er unter Überraschungen versteht? Überraschungen sind Abweichungen vom gewohnten Lauf der Dinge. Wenn Wörter mit sprachlich weiblichem Geschlecht fast alle eng an Frauen gebunden wären, und bei solchen mit männlichem Geschlecht wäre es umgekehrt, dann wäre der Busen und die Eichel eine Überraschung, Was meinst Du mit erlaubt? Wofür brauchst Du eine Erlaubnis? Oder wer sonst? Was für eine Statistik willst Du anfertigen? Von mir aus fertige auch Humor an. Meine Erlaubnis hast Du! Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 2:31

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