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German Gender Hints

German Noun Gender: Neuter - DAS

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   Gender Hints Intro > DER > DIE > DAS > Quiz 1 > Quiz 2

RULE NO. 1: When learning a German noun, always treat its article as an integral part of the word! Not Wasser, but das Wasser. Not Hund, but der Hund. However, it can be very helpful to know about the gender generalizations below.

These German gender hints are divided into two main categories: "Always" (no or few exceptions to the rule) and "Usually" (some exceptions). One more important gender rule to remember: in compound nouns, the last word determines the gender (as in die Geburt + der Ort = der Geburtsort, birthplace).


Always NEUTER (das/ein):

  • Nouns ending in -chen or -lein: Fräulein, Häuschen, Kaninchen, Mädchen (unmarried woman, cottage, rabbit, girl/maiden)
  • Infinitives used as nouns (gerunds): 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: der Kohlenstoff (carbon), der Sauerstoff (oxygen), der Stickstoff (nitrogen), der Wasserstoff (hydrogen), der Phosphor and der Schwefel (sulphur). Note: Most of the elements end in -ium, a das ending.
  • Names of hotels, cafés and theaters
  • Names of colors used as nouns: das Blau, das Rot (blue, red)

Usually NEUTER (das/ein):

  • Geographic place names (towns, countries, continents): das Berlin, Deutschland, Brasilien, Afrika (but learn non-das countries, such as: der Irak, der Jemen, die Schweiz, die Türkei, die USA [plur.]) - See: Land und Leute, a German-English chart of countries, nationalities and languages.
  • Young animals and people: das Baby, das Küken (chick); but der Junge (boy).
  • Most metals: Aluminium, Blei, Kupfer, Messing, Zinn (aluminium, lead, copper, brass, tin/pewter; but die Bronze, der Stahl - bronze, steel)
  • Nouns ending in -o (often cognates from Latin): das Auto, Büro, Kasino, Konto (account), Radio, Veto, Video - Note: Exceptions: die Avocado, die Disko, der Euro, der Scirocco, etc. - See German Noun Suffixes and Gender for more exceptions!
  • Fractions: das/ein Viertel (¼), das/ein Drittel (but die Hälfte, half)
  • Most nouns starting with Ge-: Genick, Gerät, Geschirr, Geschlecht, Gesetz, Gespräch (back of the neck, device, dishes, sex/gender, law, conversation), but there are many exceptions, such as der Gebrauch, der Gedanke, die Gefahr, der Gefallen, der Genuss, der Geschmack, der Gewinn, die Gebühr, die Geburt, die Geduld, die Gemeinde, die Geschichte, and others)
  • Most borrowed (foreign) nouns ending in -ment: Ressentiment, Supplement (but der Zement, der/das Moment [2 diff. meanings])
  • Most nouns ending in -nis: Versäumnis (neglect; but die Erlaubnis, die Erkenntnis, die Finsternis)
  • Most nouns ending in -tum or -um: Christentum, Königtum (Christianity, kingship; but der Irrtum, der Reichtum - error, wealth)

MORE > German Noun Suffixes and Gender - with glossary
QUIZ > Gender Quiz 1 > Gender Quiz 2

German Gender Hints
An article by your Guide with helpful tips and examples to help you get der, die and das right.

German Noun Suffixes and Gender
More gender clues for German! How noun endings can predict gender, with a special noun-suffix glossary.

Chemische Elemente
A complete German-English table of the 112 known chemical elements - with their symbols and atomic weights (Ordnungszahlen). All but five are neuter!

Confusing German Words
Words with more than one gender, confusing word pairs, etc.

German Gender Quiz 1
Take our self-scoring quiz to test your mastery of noun genders.

German Gender Quiz 2
Version two of our self-scoring quiz to test your mastery of noun genders.

German for Beginners - Lesson 3
A look at the definite articles and noun gender in German. Part of our German for Beginners series.

All of our annotated English-German glossaries.

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