Der, die or das? When to use the definite or indefinite article? How to determine the gender of a noun and how to use German articles? Almost all nouns in German are preceded by a small word that scares even native speakers, but we are not intimidated!

Masculine gender

by object

  • male persons – der Mann (man), der Junge (boy)
  • male animals – der Bär (bear)
  • cardinal points – der Norden (north)
  • seasons – der Sommer (summer), der Winter (winter)
  • names of months – der Januar (January), der Mai (May), der September (September)
  • days of the week – der Montag (Monday), der Mittwoch (Wednesday), der Sonntag (Sunday)
  • times of day – der Morgen (morning), but die Nacht (night)
  • precipitation – der Regen (rain), der Schnee (snow)
  • minerals – der Granit (granite)
  • stones – der Rubin (ruby)
  • the names of the mountains – der Harz (Harz)
  • names of lakes – der Müritz (Müritz)
  • alcoholic drinks – der Wodka (vodka), der Sekt (sparkling wine), but das Bier (beer)
  • monetary units – der Euro (euro), die Krone (crown), die Mark (mark)
  • celestial bodies – der Mond (moon), but die Venus (venus), die Sonne (sun)
  • names of car brands – der Opel, der BMW

By ending

Nouns with suffixes:
  • -er – der Fahrer (driver)
  • -ler – der Sportler (sportsman)
  • -ner – der Gärtner (gardener)
  • -ling – der Lehrling (student)
  • -s – der Fuchs (fox)

Note: Do not confuse the <-er> suffix in derived nouns with words ending in <-er>: die Mutter, die Tochter, das Fenster, etc.

Foreign words with suffixes:
  • -ent – der Student (student)
  • -ant – der Laborant (laboratory assistant)
  • -ist – der Publizist (publicist)
  • -et – der Poet (poet)
  • -ot – der Pilot (pilot)
  • -at – der Kandidat (candidate)
  • -soph – der Philosoph (philosopher)
  • -nom – der Astronom (astronomer)
  • -graph – der Photograph (photographer)
  • -eur – der Ingenieur (engineer)
  • -ier – der Pionier (pioneer)
  • -ar – der Jubilar (jubilee)
  • -är – der Sekretär (secretary)
  • -or – der Doktor (doctor)

Feminine gender

By object

  • female persons – die Frau (woman), but das Mädchen (girl/see neuter)
  • female animals – die Kuh (cow), but das Huhn (chicken), das Schaf (sheep)
  • the names of the trees – die Birke (birch), but der Ahorn (maple)
  • color names – die Aster (aster), but der Mohn (poppy), der Kaktus (cactus)
  • the names of the berries – die Himbeere (raspberry)
  • the name of fruits and vegetables – die Birne (pear), but der Apfel (apple), der Pfirsich (peach), der Kohl (cabbage), der Kürbis (pumpkin)
  • most German rivers – die Elbe, die Oder, die Spree, but der Rhein, der Main, der Neckar

By ending

Nouns with suffixes:
  • -in – die Laborantin (laboratory assistant)
  • -ung – die Übung (exercise)
  • -heit – die Freiheit (freedom)
  • -keit – die Möglichkeit (opportunity)
  • -schaft – die Landschaft (terrain)
  • -ei – die Malerei (painting)

Foreign words with stressed suffixes:

  • -ie – die Chemie (chemistry)
  • -tät – die Universität (university)
  • -tion – die Station (station)
  • -ur – die Kultur (culture)
  • -ik – die Physik (physics)
  • -age – die Reportage (reportage)
  • -ade – die Fassade (facade)
  • -anz – die Ambulanz (ambulance)
  • -enz – die Existenz (existence)

Most nouns with ending in -e:

  • die Liebe (love)
  • die Kälte (cold)
  • die Hilfe (help)
  • die Lampe (lamp)

Note: There are also a number of masculine nouns ending in -e: der Kollege, der Junge, der Name, der Gedanke, der Käse and several neuter nouns: das Ende, das Interesse, das Auge.

Neuter gender

Nouns with suffixes:

  • -chen – das Mädchen (girl)
  • -lein – das Tischlein (table)
  • -(s)tel – das Fünftel (one-fifth)

Most nouns with suffixes:

  • -tum
    • das Eigentum (property), but der Reichtum, der Irrtum
  • -nis
    • das Verhältnis (relation), but die Kenntnis, die Erlaubnis
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Foreign words (objects and abstract concepts) ending in:

  • -(i)um – das Stadium (stadium)
  • -ett – das Kabinett (cabinet)
  • -ment – das Dokument (document)
  • -ma – das Drama (drama)
  • -o – das Kino (cinema)

Nouns with the Ge- prefix:

  • das Gewässer (waters/stretch of water)
  • das Gebirge (mountain range)
  • das Gemälde (painting)

Nouns formed from verbs:

  • das Laufen (run) – from laufen (to run)
  • das Lesen (read) – from lesen (to read)

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