Grammatical gender

(The grammatical gender in German grammar)

Table of contents – grammatical gender

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Explanation of the term gender
  2. Further explanations and exercises

What is the grammatical gender?

The grammatical gender (in German: Genus) is a quality of a German noun. It is the counterpart of the biological (natural) gender, the sex, and corresponds to it in most cases. Nouns that do not represent living beings have only a grammatical gender and no biological one. In the German language, nouns can be masculine (male), feminine (female), and neuter (neutral). According to this, they are given the articlesder, die,’ and ‘das’, which all mean ‘the’ in English.

Information: As it can be challenging at times to decide on the correct article, the suffix (ending) of a noun often helps to identify the grammatical gender. Compare the coming examples that illustrate this:

Masculine (male)

Nouns with the following endings are usually masculine (male) and carry the article ‘der’ (the):

Ending or suffix Examples
-ant der Lieferant (supplier), der Adjutant (adjutant)
-ent der Agent (spy), der Interessent (interested party)
-er¹ der Computer (computer), der Leser (reader)
-ich der Rettich (radish), der Anstrich (painting)
-ismus der Fanatismus (fanaticism), der Alkoholismus (alcoholism)
-ist der Tourist (tourist), der Reservist (reservist)
-ling der Zwilling (twin), der Engerling (cockchafer grub)
-or der Rotor (rotor), der Generator (generator)

¹ most of these nouns but far not all

Feminine (female)

Nouns that have the following endings are usually feminine (female) and carry the article ‘die’ (the):

Ending or suffix Examples
-anz die Ignoranz (ignorance), die Akzeptanz (acceptance)
-ei die Schreinerei (carpentry), die Abtei (abbey)
-enz die Kongruenz (congruence), die Intelligenz (intelligence)
-heit die Frechheit (cheekiness), die Sicherheit (security)
-ie die Fantasie (fantasy), die Studie (study)
-ik die Technik (technology), die Statistik (statistics)
-in² die Biologin (biologist), die Lehrerin (teacher)
-ion die Station (station), die Religion (religion)
-ität die Aktualität (topicality), die Neutralität (neutrality)
-keit die Fröhlichkeit (cheerfulness), die Einsamkeit (loneliness)
-schaft die Erbschaft (inheritance), die Mitgliedschaft (membership)
-ung die Umleitung (detour/diversion), die Benennung (naming)
-ur die Armatur (fitting), die Natur (nature)

² for female job titles

Neuter (neutral)

Nouns that have the following endings are usually neuter (neutral) and carry the article ‘das’ (the):

Ending or suffix Examples
-chen das Schweinchen (piggy), das Küsschen (brief kiss)
-lein das Bäumlein (little tree), das Büblein (little boy)
-ment das Fundament (foundation), das Pergament (parchment)
-tum das Heiligtum (sanctuary), das Besitztum (possession)
-um das Memorandum (memorandum), das Publikum (audience)

Further explanations related to the ‘Grammatical gender’

The following explanations are relating to the topic ‘Grammatical gender in German’ and might help you too: