Hot answers tagged

62 votes

How do Germans refer to people without caring about the gender

You are falling into the trap laid out carefully by German Gender Mainstreaming throughout the years. No, in German a noun does not have a gender. It has a genus. This genus is a purely grammatical ...
user avatar
  • 13.6k
43 votes
Accepted

Why is "Baum" masculine?

The rules don't always apply, esp. when the endings are not morphological. And -um is neuter only if the noun comes from Latin that way (Individuum, Museum). But Baum is "natively" German; ...
user avatar
36 votes
Accepted

Unexpected use of 'Kater' instead of 'Katze'

you'd normally use Katze instead of Kater in normal conversation, even for a male cat. The only time you'd use Kater is a) if you're a veterinarian or breeder who has a professional interest in the ...
user avatar
  • 1,039
32 votes
Accepted

How do Germans react to foreigners messing up noun genders?

When I started to learn English, my teacher told me If you are not going to make at least a hundred mistakes every day, you are not going to improve. I believe this is true for learning any ...
user avatar
31 votes

Why is the sentence "Das ist eine Nase" correct?

In German language, the word "das" is not only an article. It has a second meaning: It can also have the meanings of the English words "this" or "that". If the word "das" means "this", there are no ...
user avatar
27 votes
Accepted

Is the word "Unterlagen" masculine or feminine?

The das in the first example is not an article since an article would have to come just before a noun. It's a demonstrative pronoun roughly translatable as "that", although "this/these&...
user avatar
  • 7,633
25 votes

"Die Bächlein" instead of expected "das Bächlein"

The singular form is das Bächlein and, as you correctly state, this is a neuter diminutive that ends in -lein; die Bächlein is the plural form. For completeness, here is the declension table for the ...
user avatar
  • 7,433
24 votes
Accepted

Is there an alcoholic beverage that’s feminine in German?

Die Bowle (punch) The name stems from the english "bowl" referring the vessel it is served in. Bowle is usually cold, for hot varieties we use the term der Punsch (which is punch) One exception, ...
user avatar
  • 23.6k
23 votes

Masculine, feminine, neuter

German inherited its three-gender system from Proto-Indoeuropean, but the reason that language had it is lost in the mists of time. Some languages kept this. Others reduced to two genders (e.g. French ...
user avatar
23 votes
Accepted

Wie nennt man einen weiblichen Nazi?

Ganz allgemein gesprochen ist in diesem Kontext, also wenn es um Prädikative geht, Movierung nicht nötig. Viele Sprecher nehmen keinen Anstoß an Sätzen wie den folgenden, wo das Geschlecht (Sexus) ...
user avatar
  • 21.3k
21 votes
Accepted

Why is Mozzarella masculine?

In German every cheese name is masculine: "der Parmesan", "der Mozzarella", "der Ricotta", "der Gouda", "der Camembert", and so on.
user avatar
  • 10.4k
20 votes
Accepted

When showing interest in people, how is the gender inferred?

There is no masculine or feminine form of the interrogative pronoun "Wer". It applies to all three genders as long as a person is meant. (Similarly, "Was" applies to all three ...
user avatar
18 votes

How do Germans refer to people without caring about the gender

If you know the name, use the name. That’s the easy part. You can often still get away with ‘generisches Maskulinum’, i.e. Studenten, but in a university setting, i.e. where you’d actually use ...
user avatar
  • 9,013
18 votes

Masculine, feminine, neuter

As is true with all languages all through time, linguistic features are not extant in order to 'serve a purpose', but rather often as remnants of things that once served purposes, then became obsolete....
user avatar
18 votes
Accepted

Which genus do I use for neutral expressions in German?

Oh boy, you just opened the box of Pandora as this is part of an ongoing discussion in Germany. I'll give an answer without politics first but I feel that this answer also needs to take a look at the ...
user avatar
  • 15.9k
18 votes

Why is "Baum" masculine?

There are much more exceptions from German gender rules than there are rules. The best way to learn German genders is like German native speakers do: Learn for each noun separately which gender it has....
user avatar
17 votes

What definite/indefinite article do Germans use when they don't know/forget the noun they're talking about?

Very often you have a vague idea of what you want to say, and with this idea often comes some words that have similar meanings, but still are not exactly what you want to say. So you often use their ...
user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

"zum Zahnarzt" or "zur Zahnärztin" for female dentist?

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 ...
user avatar
  • 23.6k
16 votes
Accepted

Why Mitternacht, not Mittnacht

The word Mitternacht is some centuries younger than Mittwoch and Mittag. Mitternacht derives from 14th century phrases such as vor mitter nahte (‘before middle night’), where mitter is an adjective in ...
user avatar
  • 19.5k
16 votes

Would combining all German articles to just one article have a real negative effect on the language?

In cases where the article is nominative and just there to define the gender of the noun: Yes, there would be very small effects to the language. But as stated in the comments: Some times the article ...
user avatar
  • 8,679
16 votes
Accepted

Why "WeimarER Republik"?

Your question is smart and beautiful. Thank you for raising this issue here. As a non-native speaker, I guess I have your answer. In German, there are two kinds of adjectives formed with the suffix -...
user avatar
  • 1,319
16 votes
Accepted

When would you use "er" or "sie" instead of "es", specifically with the meaning of "it"?

Auf die Frage Ist das deine Jacke? ist die im Deutschen übliche Antwortformulierung: Nein, das ist nicht meine Jacke. Wenn du "Sie ist nicht meine Jacke" sagst, erkennt jeder, dass du Deutsch ...
user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

I would say: "You are another teacher", but she is a woman and I am a man

Der folgende Satz wird von Sprechern unterschiedlich bewertet (Stichwort: generisches Maskulinum). Als beleidigend kann er aber meines Erachtens nicht aufgefaßt werden.* (an eine weibliche Person ...
user avatar
  • 21.3k
14 votes
Accepted

Kann „Tandem“ als weiblich bzw. männlich betrachtet werden?

Ein Tandem ist ein Fahrrad für zwei Personen und es ist sächlich: Das Tandem. Andere Definitionen, die alle vom zweisitzigen Fahrrad abgeleitet sind, findet man hier: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

Why is it “des Lesens” instead of “der Lesen” for the Genitiv of Lesen

It seems you mixed up several concepts. There is a feminine word die Lese (meaning the process of collecting, usually grapes for making wine). Its genitive plural is indeed der Lesen. There is a ...
user avatar
  • 19.5k
14 votes
Accepted

Warum ist das Genus von „Abschwung“ maskulin, obwohl Wörter auf „-ung“ meistens feminin sind?

Die »Ausnahme« ist bei genauer Betrachtung gar keine Ausnahme. Die Regel, dass die Endung -ung automatisch das weibliche Geschlecht verlangt, gilt nämlich nur für das Suffix -ung, das aus Verben ...
user avatar
  • 38k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible