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German Gender Hints

German Noun Gender: Masculine - DER

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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 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.
  • 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) - See Das Wetter (Lesson 20)
  • 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: Rentner, Schaffner, Zentner, Zöllner (pensioner, [train] conductor, hundred-weight, customs collector). 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 carbon (der Kohlenstoff). 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.).

Usually MASCULINE (der/ein):

  • Agents (people who do something), most occupations and nationalities: der Architekt, der Arzt, der Deutsche, der Fahrer, der Verkäufer, der Student, der Täter (architect, physician, German [person], driver, salesman, student, perpetrator). Note that the feminine form of these terms almost always ends in -in (die Architektin, die Ärztin, die Fahrerin, die Verkäuferin, die Studentin, Täterin, but die Deutsche).
  • Nouns ending in -er, when referring to people (but die Jungfer, die Mutter, die Schwester, die Tochter, das Fenster) - See German Noun Suffixes and Gender for more
  • Names of alcoholic drinks: der Wein, der Wodka (but das Bier)
  • Names of mountains and lakes: der Berg, der See (but Germany's highest peak, die Zugspitze follows the rule for the feminine ending -e, and die See is the sea).
  • Most rivers outside of Europe: der Amazonas, der Kongo, der Mississippi (See World Rivers in German)
  • Most nouns ending in -ich, -ling, -ist: Rettich, Sittich, Schädling, Frühling, Pazifist (radish, parakeet, pest/parasite, spring, pacifist)

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.

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.

World Rivers in German
A selection of rivers around the globe in German and English - with genders. From your Guide.

All of our annotated English-German glossaries.

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