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Gender in German Language

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For the most part, the gender of English nouns is based upon being male, female, or an inanimate object. German is similar only in a small degree. Many nouns that refer to males or females are masculine or feminine respectively. But this similarity to English soon ends. The gender of most German nouns can be determined by examining their makeup. Certain prefixes, suffixes, and structural elements are signals that a noun is a specific gender. And that gender doesn’t necessarily have to do with the noun being male, female, or inanimate.

Masculine nouns can be identified by the following characteristics:

1. Nouns that refer to males: der Vater, der Junge (father, boy)
2. Many nouns that end in -er, -en, and -el: der Lehrer, der Wagen, der Mantel (teacher, car,
   coat)
3. Days of the week, months, and seasons: der Montag, der Januar, der Herbst (Monday,
    January, autumn)
4. Foreign words with the accent on the last syllable: der Soldat, der Elefant (soldier,
    elephant)
5. Nouns formed from an infinitive minus the -en ending: der Besuch (besuchen), der Lohn
   (lohnen) (visit, wages)
6. Many nouns that form their plural by (umlaut) + e: der Brief (die Briefe), der Satz (die
    Sätze) (letter, sentence)
7. Nouns that end in -ich, -ig, -ismus, -ist, -ling, and -us: der Teppich, der Käfig, der
   Kommunismus, der Kapitalist, der Lehrling, der Rhythmus (carpet, cage, communism,
   capitalist, apprentice, rhythm)

Feminine nouns can be identified by the following characteristics:

1. Nouns that refer to females: die Mutter, die Frau (mother, woman or wife)
2. Names of numerals: die Eins, die Hundert (one, hundred)
3. Names of many rivers: die Elbe, die Mosel (the Elbe, the Moselle)
4. Many nouns ending in -e: die Lampe, die Ernte (lamp, harvest)
5. Nouns ending in -in that identify females in professions: die Lehrerin, die Ärztin (teacher,
    physician)
6. Many nouns ending in -a: die Kamera, die Pizza (camera, pizza)
7. Many nouns that form their plural by -(e)n: die Tante (die Tanten), die Zeitschrift (die
   Zeitschriften) (aunt, magazine)

8. Nouns that end in -ei, -heit, -keit, -ie, -ik, -nz, -schaft, -ion, -tät, -ung, and -ur: die
  Schweinerei, die Einheit, die Einsamkeit, die Fotografie, die Topik, die Konferenz, die
  Landschaft, die Position, die Universität, die Prüfung, die Natur (mess, unity, loneliness,
  photography, topic, conference, landscape, position, university, test, nature).

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Neuter nouns can be identified by the following characteristics:

1. Diminutive nouns that end in -chen or -lein: das Mädchen, das Röslein (girl, little rose)
2. Nouns formed from an infinitive: das Einkommen, das Singen (income, singing). These
    nouns do not have a plural form.
3. Most nouns that end in -nis: das Bekenntnis, das Gedächtnis (confession, memory)
4. Many nouns with the prefix Ge-: das Gemälde, das Gelächter (painting, laughter)
5. Nouns that refer to metals: das Gold, das Silber (gold, silver)
6. Nouns that end in -ment: das Regiment, das Experiment (regiment, experiment)
7. Most nouns that form their plural by (umlaut) + er: das Haus (die Häuser), das Kind (die
    Kinder) (house, child)
8. Nouns that end in -tel, -tum, and -um: das Viertel, das Reichtum, das Gymnasium
   (quarter, wealth, prep school)

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