I used DeepL to translate two sentences from English to German:

i) I will keep the gum for myself. 2) I will keep the gum myself.

It came up with:

  1. Ich werde den Kaugummi für mich behalten.
  2. Ich werde das Kaugummi selbst behalten.

I cannot figure out why in the first sentence "das Kaugummi" becomes "den Kaugummi". It is not the dative for "das" and I can't think of any circumstances in which this would happen. Can anyone help?

  • 1
    Like all machine learning solutions, DeepL creates more problems than it solves.
    – David Vogt
    Sep 9, 2020 at 9:03
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    I’m voting to close this question because a) the DeepL output aspect is not concerning language but the results of a certain software processing it. b) What remains is a simple gender question - off topic either, since it can be answered using a dictionary. c) The suggested dative is not correct in any application of behalten I can imagine.
    – guidot
    Sep 9, 2020 at 12:38

2 Answers 2


Both are correct because "Kaugummi" has ambiguous grammatical gender: Wiktionary

  • Where I come from, das Gummi is pretty much reserved for condomes. Sep 9, 2020 at 9:12
  • @phipsgabler: We are both from Graz (I was born there, but now live somewhere else), but I still always say der Gummi, also for condomes. I am 55 years old now. I observed for many years, that younger people adopt the language they hear in TV and read in magazines (which is German German) much more than my generation. Todays young people (20 or younger) who live in Vienna hardly can understand dialect lyrics from austropop songs from the 1970ies and 1980ies. And so it's not a big surprise for me to read, that someone who lives where I was born says das Gummi. Sep 9, 2020 at 11:42
  • Oh, really? A very plausible theory, given my age. Admittedly, I'm only have unstructured L2 acquisition of "real" Austrian dialects. My "bürgerliches Grazerisch" of younger generation is indeed already pretty far from anything proper Styrian. Sep 9, 2020 at 15:44
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    @HubertSchölnast that makes at least 3 of us :-). I can confirm your observations.
    – guntbert
    Sep 9, 2020 at 18:00
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    @phipsgabler: urban dialects (dialects spoken in bigger cities) are always different from the dialects spoken in rural areas near those cities, because immigrants (not only from foreign countries, but also from other parts of the same country) want to live in the cities, not in rural areas. Just think of the many thousands of students who live in such cities, coming from anywhere in the world. This is the reason why urban dialects change faster and are much closer to standard language than dialects form rural regions. Sep 9, 2020 at 20:46

The noun Kaugummi has two grammatical genders: masculine (der Kaugummi) and neuter (das Kaugummi). The masculine gender is more common, and some dictionaries, such as the DWDS, only list that one.

In any case, the gender that you assign to it determines how the casus forms look like. For instance, the accusative forms that appear in your example sentences are:

  • Ich werde den Kaugummi für mich behalten. (masculine)
  • Ich werde das Kaugummi für mich behalten. (neuter)
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    Do you have a source for »way more common«? I could only find mediawiki.ids-mannheim.de/VarGra/index.php/Gummi and if I multiply the population of the regions and the relative frequency of occurrence of the two genders, I find that roughly 2/3 of Germany say »das Gummi«. The result doesn't change much if you consider another 9m Austrians who say »der Gummi«. Sep 9, 2020 at 10:42
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    @Raketenolli Kaugummi does not need to follow Gummi. Given that DWDS only mentions the masculine variant and Duden lists it as primary, the assertion in question seems warranted.
    – David Vogt
    Sep 9, 2020 at 10:56
  • @Raketenolli This may apply to Gummi, but not necessarily to Kaugummi. Whatever, duden.de writes "der, auch das Kaugummi" and the DWDS does not even mention the neuter form. Also Pfeifer writes "Kaugummi m. (20er Jahre 20. Jh.), nach amerik.-engl. chewing gum (1864)." These are no proofs but hints. But to tone it down a bit, I will delete in the answer the emphasizing word way. Sep 9, 2020 at 11:03
  • I agree with »more common« as it is given as the dominant or only gender in all dictionaries we've looked at. To me personally Kaugummi follows from Gummi just like Radiergummi does. Where I grew up (southern Niedersachsen) all of them were das ...gummi. Sep 9, 2020 at 12:26
  • I was raised in the GDR. For me das Gummi is simply short for das Gummiband, like those small red elastic bands or the famous Schlüpfergummis, or a synonyme for Kondom. Gummi-things made of a rubber-like mass, including Radiergummi and Kaugummi, are masculine for me. Sep 9, 2020 at 13:27

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