The best way to remember gender in German

One of the most vexing aspects of learning German is the grammatical gender (i.e. male, female or neuter) of German nouns. While many gender associations seem quite random, and while the best thing is to ‘learn’ each word along with its article (i.e. “der”, “die” and “das”), the way a word ends can often increase one’s accuracy when guessing:

Words ending with the following are usually masculine (i.e. “der”):

-er: “der Bäcker” (“the baker”); “der Australier” (“the Australian”)
-ist: “der Rassist” (“the racist”); “der Polizist” (“the policeman”)
-ich: “der Stich” (“the sting”); “der Dietrich” (“the lock pick”)
-ismus: “der Journalismus” (“the journalism”); “der Sexismus” (“the sexism”)
-ling: “der Liebling” (“the darling”); der Frühling (“the spring”)

Words ending with the following are usually feminine (i.e. “die”):

-e: “die Flasche” (“the bottle”); “die Tasche” (“the bag/pocket”)
-heit and -keit: “die Zufriedenheit” (“the contentment”); “die Einsamkeit”
-ung: “die Zeitung” (“the newspaper”); “die Heizung” (“the heater”)
-ion: “die Situation” (“the situation”); “die Information” (“information”)
-ie: “die Industrie” (“the industry”); “die Analogie” (“the analogy”)
-schaft: “die Eigenschaft” (“the characteristic”); “die Gefangenschaft” (“the imprisonment”)
-tät: “die Neutralität” (“the neutrality”); “die Identität” (“the identity”)
-ette: “die Zigarette” (“the cigarette”); “die Limette” (“the lime”)
-ade and -age: “die Limonade” (“the lemonade”); “die Blamage” (“the embarrassment”)
-ei: “die Metzgerei” (“the butcher shop”); “die Polizei” (“the police”)
-in: “die Pilotin” (“the female pilot”); “die Polizistin” (“the female police officer”)

Words ending with the following are usually neuter (i.e. “das”):

-chen and -lein: “das Mädchen” (“the girl”); “das Fräulein” (“the young lady”)
-o: “das Auto” (“the car”); “das Radio” (“the radio”)
-um: “das Universum” (“the universe”); “das Spektrum” (“the spectrum”)
-nis: “das Zeugnis” (“the report card”); “das Ergebnis” (“the result”)
-ment: “das Abonnement” (“the subscription”); “das Regiment” (“the regiment”)

Please note again that this will work MOST of the time, but not always, as there are lots of exceptions. Our personal advice is to repeat these (and other words with these endings) as often as possible in the context of meaningful sentences to develop a mental association between the endings and the corresponding article – so that “Katze” and “Situation” would simply sound wrong with anything other than “die”.

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