German nouns are preceded by three distinct definite articles: the masculine article der ( deyR ), the feminine article die ( dee ), or the neuter article das ( dAs ). All plural nouns are preceded by the plural article die ( dee ).
Determining The Gender Of German Nouns
Determining gender can be tricky. Often, the natural gender of the noun and the grammatical gender of the definitive article work the way you'd expect them to; Herr ( heR ), for example, the noun for "man," takes the masculine article der ( deyR ).
But more often, you can't get the article for a noun just by looking at it. (You can of course look the noun up in a dictionary, where masculine nouns are followed by m., feminine nouns by f., and neuter nouns by n. ) Scholars have come up with many theories about why some nouns take certain definite articles, but the truth is, in German, there are no simple rules or explanations for determining gender. Why is the meat you eat at dinner neuter ( das Fleisch ), the potato feminine ( die Kartoffel ) and the cauliflower masculine ( der Rosenkohl )? Your guess is as good as ours.
Tips And Tricks For Determing German Noun Gender
Even in a world where hardly anything is what it seems, there are still certain kinds of nouns whose gender you can determine even if you haven't memorized their definite article. For example, nouns referring to male persons ( der Mann, der Sohn ), nouns of professions ending in -er, -or, -ler or -ner ( der Pastor, der B ä cker ) and most nouns referring to male animals or a species ( der Fuchs, der L ö we ) take the article der .
Generally, two-syllable nouns ending in -e such as Sonne ( zo-nuh ), and Blume ( blew-muh ), take the feminine article die . Countries, towns and cities all take the neuter article das . So do the letters of the alphabet: das A,das B, das C and so on.
Other than learning the gender and the plural form of a noun along with the noun itself, there is no fail-safe way of ensuring that you know the correct gender of the German noun you are about to use in a sentence. The gender of a noun affects its relationship to other words in a sentence, and if you learn the definite articles along with the nouns, it will be easier for you to form sentences correctly later.