der, die, das – forms of „the“ in German

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Here are some tiny cards and quizzes to help you learn the genders of the most common nouns in the German language. (I hope to get to 500 nouns eventually.)

First Set of 50 Nouns – Learn

Tiny Cards Set 

First Set of 50 Nouns – Quiz 

LearnClick Quiz | Solutions PDF

Second Set of 50 Nouns – Learn

Tiny Cards Set 

 Second Set of 50 Nouns – Quiz

LearnClick Quiz | Solutions PDF

Kahoot on first 100 nouns above:

Preview Mode | Class Mode | Create an Account

Third Set of 50 Nouns – Learn

Tiny Cards Set

Third Set of 50 Nouns – QuizLearnClick Quiz | Solutions PDF

Fourth Set of 50 Nouns – Learn

Tiny Cards Set 

Fourth Set of 50 Nouns – Quiz

LearnClick Quiz | Solutions PDF

Fifth Set of 50 Nouns – Learn

Tiny Cards Set

Fifth Set of 50 Nouns – Quiz

LearnClick Quiz | Solutions – PDF

Some Explanations of Noun Genders in German

The word „the“ is known as the definite article. There’s more than one „the“ in German. 

The three basic versions of „the“ in German are der (masculine), die (feminine) and das (neuter). Here are three simple examples:

man ermagmich Mia  

der Mann

die Frau

das Haus

When you write down nouns that you want to remember, write down their definite article as well, as I have done above. Just seeing the definite article beside the noun a few times often helps you to remember it.

These three types of nouns are known as genders. All German nouns have a gender. Native speakers can remember the gender for each word without even having to think about it. I don’t know how they do it.

In an attempt to address the difficulties non-native speakers have, I have made up some sets of Tiny Cards and LearnClick Quizzes above. They should help you to get a feel for the first few hundred nouns that you learn. It becomes easier after that. Sort of. No, really.

People who aren’t native speakers have to rely on other methods, including some that amount to mental torture. 

METHOD 1: Colour coding is one technique that some people find useful. That’s why it is useful to write masculine, feminine and neuter nouns  in colours that match their gender.

METHOD 2: Focus on the rules that sometimes help you to determine gender. Here are some that I have gleaned from Laura’s German Grammarpod and other reading. For more, refer to this page at Laura’s Grammarpod, where you can also download more detailed information on this topic.

Some information, rules and guidelines:

  • It might interest you to know that 39% of German nouns are masculine, 35% feminine and 25% neuter.
  • 90% of words ending in -e are feminine. This rule is very helpful, but there are several important exceptions, including boy (der Junge), cheese (der Käse), certain animals such as lion (der Löwe), monkey (der Affe) and hare (der Hase), and also the words for thought (der Gedanke) and belief (der Glaube).
  • Words ending in -ung, -schaft, -keit, -heit, -tion, -zion and -in are ALWAYS feminine
  • Words ending in -chen and -lein are ALWAYS neuter. This explains the odd fact that the word for girl is neuter (das Mädchen).
METHOD 3: Visualizing the word with a man or woman connected with it can also help. At one stage I could never remember that die Couch was feminine, while das Sofa was neuter. Then I pictured a woman lying on the couch – and since then I haven’t forgotten once. Picturing a man sitting in an armchair reading a newspaper also helps me to recall that der Sessel (armchair) is masculine.
 
I have also read about this clever way of remembering the genders of eating utensils: you can picture a bald man’s head to remember that a spoon is masculine (der Löffel), but think of a woman’s long hair to help you recall that a fork is feminine (die Gabel).

 

A spoon is smooth and shiny, like a bald man’s head. So it’s masculine! – der Löffel (plural – die Löffel) A fork has long thin tines, a bit like a woman’s hair (if you’re imaginative). So it’s feminine! – die Gabel (plural – die Gabeln) A knife is neither a spoon nor a fork, so it must be neuter! – das Messer (plural – die Messer)
METHOD 4: This is not really a method, but I enjoy it. I try to guess the gender and then look it up to see if I’m right. After a while you get a feel for the likely gender, after you’ve been learning for a long time. Your guessing  gradually gets better and you feel gratified when you discover you were actually right. There’s still a lot of hit and miss though.
Below are a few common German nouns in a Quizlet. Each of them has a verb after it. Can you remember the gender of each noun after you have cycled through a couple of times? See if you can also guess what the verb means, using the picture to help you. There are no translations to help you, but the picture should be enough.
 
Below the Quizlet is a simple quiz, using the nouns on this page and in the Quizlet. For each „das ist…“ sentence, all you need to do is type in the indefinite article (in English a or an) that matches the gender of the noun:
  • for masculine and neuter nouns: ein
  • for feminine nouns: eine
Meanwhile, good luck with all the strategies above and let me know if you figure out some of your own. By the way, if you get the gender wrong, you’ll still be understood, so don’t let anxiety over gender stop you from speaking your new language.

Below is a simple quiz in which you need to supply ein or eine, depending on the gender of the noun. To complete this quiz on a fresh screen (which will make it easier to see), go to this link.

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