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What Is a Noun?[edit]

A word that can be used to refer to a person, place, thing, quality, or idea; part of speech. It can serve as the subject or object of a verb. For example a table or a computer. Nouns start with a capital letter in written language.


German, unlike English, has more than one way to make nouns plural, and plural form, like gender, must be memorized with every noun.

There are twelve different ways to form plurals in German. They are formed by affixes at the end of the word, and the umlaut of the vowel of the stem. They are - (changing nothing); -¨; -e; -¨e; -n; -¨n; -en; -¨en; -er; -¨er; -nen (to feminine suffix -in); -s (mainly with English loan-words); adding "foreign" endings (mainly Latin words); and changing suffixes (mainly Latin words).

When German nouns are used in the plural, their gender becomes irrelevant. The plural can almost be thought of as a gender on its own. In the plural, the definite article is always "die" when using the nominative and accusative cases.

When using the dative case, "den" is the definite article of all plurals. All plurals not ending in -n or -s affix an -n.

The definite article of the plural in the genitive case is "der".


Nominative: Die alten Männer spielen Schach. The old men are playing chess.

Accusative: Ich sah die alten Männer beim Schachspielen. I saw the old men as they played chess.

Dative: Ich spielte mit den alten Männern Schach. I played chess with the old men.

Genitive: Das Schachspiel der alten Männer war nicht sehr spannend. The old men's chess game was not very exciting.


Although gender and plural form are often arbitrary, there exist certain suffixes whose gender and plural form are regular. They are mainly feminine.

-ung, -heit, -keit, -schaft, -ion, and -tät

These are all feminine endings, which are pluralized by -en.

  • Diskussion(en)
  • Universtät(en)


This endings is feminine and is pluralized by changing the stem vowel and adding -e

  • Unterkunft
  • Unterkünfte


This ending often doesn't have a plural. When it does however, you add '-en

  • Technik(en)


When verb infinitives transform into nouns, they do not have a plural form.

  • das Sprechen

Many masculine nouns are formed by verbal stems without a suffix. Many of these receive an umlaut in their plural form.


German, like many other languages, gives each noun a gender: Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter. Plural nouns also act differently not only with the verb of the sentence, but the article preceding it.

The way any particular word is classified may not be logical.


das Mädchen       the girl (neuter)
die Person        the person (feminine - even when talking about a man)

However, not all German Nouns are randomly allocated a gender. The following notes will apply to most nouns but not all.

A note on Mädchen:

This is derived from the diminutive form of Maid (old, rarely used) - Maidchen. Grammatically it is neuter, but when referenced, nowadays the logical feminine gender can takes over: "Das Mädchen und ihr Hund", instead of "Das Mädchen und sein Hund".


There are far more masculine nouns than of either of the other genders. The masculine nominative definite article is der.

Semantic Groups Which Are Masculine[edit]

days              z.B. der Montag
times of the day  z.B. der Morgen
months            z.B. der August
seasons           z.B. der Sommer
compass points: Norden, Osten, Süden, Westen, Nordwesten, ...
(male) persons*     z.B. der Mann, der König
(male) animals      z.B. der Löwe, der Hahn, der Ochse
alcohol**         z.B. der Wein, der Likör, der Alkohol, der Champagner
car***            z.B. der Wagen, der Opel, der Mercedes, der BMW

* With, of course, the exception of die Person which remains feminine even when talking about a man.
** However, it is das Bier, die Spirituose (because of the ending "-ose"), das Pils (because it is a beer), das Methanol (because it is a scientific term of a substance)
*** Excepting "das Auto".

Words with Certain Endings[edit]

Words with these endings are often masculine:
-ismus: der Kommunismus, der Anglizismus, der Terrorismus
-ling: der Lehrling (apprentice), der Liebling (darling), der Schmetterling (butterfly)
-or: der Motor
-ant: der Elefant

neuter: Recycling, Restaurant, Labor

The following groups of nouns are usually (but not always) masculine:
Nouns ending in -el:     der Vogel
Nouns ending in -er:     der Hamster
Nouns ending in -en:     der Kuchen (but not infinitives used as nouns. They are neuter: das Rauchen, das Lachen)
Nouns ending in -aum are often masculine.

Baum, Traum, Schaum, Raum, Saum, Flaum

Nouns ending in -ang are often masculine.

Drang, Fang, Gang, Hang, Klang, Rang, Anfang, Empfang, Gesang, Tang

Nouns ending in -und are often masculine.

Bund, Grund, Schund, Hund, Fund, Schwund, Schlund, Mund

neuter: Pfund

Nouns ending in -all are often masculine.

Ball, Fall, Krawall, Drall, Hall, Wall, Aufprall, Kristall, Knall, Schall, Zufall, Abfall, Vorfall, Schwall

neuter: All, Metall, Intervall
feminine: Nachtigall


The feminine Gender article is die. It is used in the nominative and accusative singular case. It is also used to indicate nominative and accusative plural for nouns of any gender.

e.g. die Katze — Feminine

       die Katzen — feminine plural
       die Männer - masculine plural
       die Mädchen - neuter plural

Semantic Groups Which Are Feminine[edit]

Female persons and (female) animals are usually feminine (very few exceptions).


die Frau (woman)
die Schwester (sister)
die Mutter (mother)

To change a designation to explicitly feminine, one often uses the ending -in.

der Lehrer - die Lehrerin (teacher)
der Kaiser - die Kaiserin (emperor and empress)
der König - die Königin (king and queen)
der Arzt - die Ärztin (doctor)
der Löwe - die Löwin (lion and lioness)


das Mädchen (girl)
das Kind (child)
das Fräulein (old fashioned for Miss)

A lot of plants and trees are also feminine


die Buche (beech)
die Eiche (oak)
die Rose (rose)
die Tulpe (tulip)
die Nelke (carnation)


das Veilchen (violet), der Farn (fern) ...

Words With Certain Endings[edit]

Words with these endings are feminine:
-heit: die Gesundheit (health), die Wahrheit (truth)
-keit: die Möglichkeit (possibility)
-schaft: die Wirtschaft, die Freundschaft
-ei: die Türkei, die Mongolei, die Bäckerei*


* das Ei (egg) has nothing to do with the ending -ei. 
Das Ei is neuter, including all words derived from: z.B. das Spiegelei, das Rührei, das Vogelei (different types of eggs) * der Papagei (parrot)
Words derived from verbs with the ending -ung are feminine: 
 die Beobachtung (observation; v: beobachen), die Verfolgung (persecution; v: verfolgen)
Words derived from verbs (mostly irregular verbs), ending in -t are feminine:
 die Handschrift (hand writing (n), derived from "schreiben),
 die Fahrt (journey, trip or ride, derived from fahren)
Many German nouns end with -e. They are often feminine.

Examples: die Lampe (lamp), die Karte (card, map), Liebe, Freude, Erde, Tasse, Masse, Klasse, Rasse, Rolle, Brücke, Lücke, Krücke, Ecke, Zecke, Decke, Strecke, Matte, Ratte, Krabbe, Ebbe, Sonne, Tonne, Wonne, Nonne, Farbe, Narbe, Nase, Zunge, Lunge, Wange, Zange, Spange, Lippe, Frage, Sprache, Suche, Seite, Kante, Bitte, Socke, Hose, Jacke, Kreide, Waffe, Sekunde, Minute, Stunde, Straße, Gasse, Suppe, Speise, Reise, Oase, Diagnose, Analyse, Krise, Seele, Flagge, Fahne, Falle, Bremse, Beute, Adresse, Presse, Messe, Toilette, Pause, Tomate, Banane, Melone, Kirsche, Pflaume, Ameise, Motte, Fliege, Biene, Wespe, Schlange, Schnecke, Giraffe, Spinne, Blume, Pflanze, Vase, Tanne, Kanne, Pfanne, Lüge, Sorge, Kappe, Liste, Summe, Zelle, Trompete, Flöte, Gitarre, Violine

semantic reasons: der Junge (boy), der Franzose (French man), der Löwe (Lion), der Hase (hare), der Affe (monkey)
others: der Käse (cheese), das Ende (end), das Auge (eye), das Erbe

Foreign words:

Words with the endings given below are usually stressed on the last syllable. They are feminine.
-anz: die Eleganz, die Toleranz
-enz: die Intelligenz (intelligence), die Konsequenz (consequence)
-ie: die Philosophie (philosophy), die Melodie (melody)
-ik: die Musik (music), die Politik (politics), die Physik
-tion, -sion, -gion, -xion, -lion: die Nation, die Mission, die Religion, die Reflexion, die Million
-ur: die Kultur (culture), die Natur, die Temperatur, die Literatur, die Frisur, die Tastatur
Words ending with -tät are always feminine.
Universität, Majestät, Lokalität, Pietät, Integrität, Qualität, Aktivität, Priorität, Nationalität, Kapazität
Words ending with -age are often feminine.
Garage, Montage, Etage, Spionage, Persiflage, Blamage


The neutral Gender article is das for the nominative and accusative case.

Semantic Groups Which Are Neuter[edit]

Names of colors are neuter: das Blau, das Rot, das Gelb, das Hellgrün, das Dunkelbraun
Languages are usually neuter.
Examples: Deutsch, Englisch, Esperanto, Latein
Countries with the ending -ien, -land, -reich or -stan are always neuter.

Examples: Italien, Spanien, Deutschland, England, Österreich, Frankreich, Vereinigtes Königreich, Afghanistan, Pakistan

Other countries are often neuter.

Examples (neuter): China, Japan, Mexiko, Kanada, Peru, Chile, Nigeria, Bangladesch, Ägypten, Vietnam, Südafrika, Polen
masculine: Irak, Iran, Jemen, Senegal, Sudan, Niger
feminine: Schweiz, Slowakei, Türkei, Mongolei, Ukraine

The definite article of neuter countries is only used when there is an adjective, e.g. you have to say "ich bin in Österreich", not "ich bin im Österreich", but you say "ich bin im schönen Österreich". The definite article of masculine and feminine countries is always used, e.g. "ich bin in der Schweiz", "ich bin in der schönen Schweiz", "ich bin im Senegal".

Words With Certain Endings[edit]

Words with the diminutive endings -lein and -chen are always neuter:
  das Mädchen (girl), das Häuschen (little house), das Büchlein (little book)
Words with these endings are often neuter:
ending -um if the word has Latin origin: das Zentrum, das Museum
ending -ment: das Parlament (parliament), das Fundament (base, basis), das Element (element)
Words that end with -em and are stressed on the last syllable are often neuter.

Problem, Theorem, System, Extrem

Foreign words that end with -ett and are stressed on the last syllable are often neuter.

Tablett, Etikett, Korsett, Parkett, Kabarett, Ballett

Words that end with -ma are often neuter.

Thema, Trauma, Drama, Dilemma, Prisma, Schema, Koma, Klima, Komma, Karma, Lama, Dogma, Paradigma

feminine: Firma

Words that end with -o are often neuter.

Auto, Radio, Video, Kino, Kilo, Büro, Sakko, Solo, Storno, Bistro, Manko, Banjo, Tempo, Motto, Fresko, Embargo, Esperanto, Studio, Ghetto, Foto, Echo, Piano, Cello, Kasino, Klo, Duo, Trio

masculine: Tango, Fango, Espresso, Embryo, Torpedo, Zoo

Words that end with -om are often neuter.

Syndrom, Palindrom, Phantom, Polynom, Binom, Monom, Atom, Axiom, Genom, Symptom, Diplom, Kondom, Chromosom

Words with the ending -nis are usually neuter or feminine.

Examples (neuter): Zeugnis, Hindernis, Bekenntnis, Ereignis, Geheimnis, Gefängnis, Gedächtnis, Erlebnis, Ärgernis, Bildnis, Hemmnis, Bündnis, Wagnis, Verzeichnis, Bedürfnis, Begräbnis, Besäufnis, Erzeugnis, Geständnis, Verhältnis, Zerwürfnis, Ergebnis, Verständnis
Examples (feminine): Wildnis, Kenntnis, Befugnis, Ödnis, Fäulnis, Erlaubnis, Bitternis, Bedrängnis, Finsternis

Foreign words from English with the ending -ing are usually neuter.

Examples (neuter): Training, Stalking, Jogging, Mobbing, Lobbying, Marketing, Recycling
feminine: Holding

Words With Certain Beginnings[edit]

Nouns that begin with Ge- are often neuter.

Examples: Gedicht, Gericht, Gesicht, Gewicht, Geheimnis, Gebirge, Geschirr, Gedächtnis, Gebiet, Gespenst, Gewissen, Gesetz, Getränk, Gewand, Gewitter, Geschenk, Gespräch, Gebäude, Gehäuse, Gemüse, Geschäft, Getreide, Gerücht, Gewerbe, Gefühl, Gebiss, Gesindel, Gerangel, Gelaber, Gerät, Getue, Gemälde, Gewehr, Gebet, Gesuch, Gelenk, Geweih, Gewinde, Gehirn, Geschrei, Gebäck, Gewirr, Gebell, Gewürz, Gewühl, Gewölbe, Gewieher, Gejaule, Gewässer, Gewebe, Gewächs, Gestrüpp, Gestüt, Gestein, Gestell, Gestirn, Getöse, Geschlecht, Geschoss, Geschoß, Geschütz, Geschwader, Geschick, Geschwür, Gespür, Geschehen, Gesäß, Gerede, Gerippe, Geröll, Gerüst, Gerinnsel, Gerümpel, Gelände, Gelächter, Gemäuer, Gelage, Gemenge, Gemetzel, Gemüt, Genick, Geräusch, Gepäck

masculine: Gedanke, Genuss, Geschmack, Gewinn, Geruch, Gestank, Gebrauch, Gesang
feminine: Gewalt, Gestalt, Geschichte, Gemeinde, Gefahr, Geduld, Gewähr, Gebühr

Nouns Derived From Certain Verbclasses[edit]

Verbs used as noun (roughly corresponding to the gerund) are neuter:
das Rauchen (Smoking), das Lesen (Reading)

Tips For Learning[edit]

As most German articles can not be attributed to certain rule, it is best to always learn the article when learning the noun. You may think of the article as necessary information belonging to every noun. You avoid a lot of looking-up-time that way.

Looking Up Gender in Dictionaries[edit]

Most dictionaries do not give the article. Instead, you find different sets of abbreviations which tell you to which class the noun in question belongs.

The most common sets of abbreviations are:

r, e, and s.
  r: der, masculine; 
  e: die, feminine; 
  s: das, neuter.
The abbreviations of this type are usually given before the noun.
m., f., and n.. 
m.: masculine; f.: feminine; n.: neuter. The abbreviations of this type are usually given after the noun.
m., w., and s.. 
m.: männlich, masculine; w.: weiblich, feminine; s.: sächlich, neuter. The abbreviations of this type are usually given after the noun.



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German Lessons: 50%.svg Level I50%.svg Level II25%.svg Level III00%.svg Level IV00%.svg Level V


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