When to use “der, die or das” in German

When to use “der, die or das” in German

You get lost when to use “der”, “die” or “das”? When studying German, you will quickly realize, that its three genders might be tricky sometimes. However, there are many tricks with which you can easily find the right gender, and after reading this article, you will know when to use what!

 

The German language offers its speakers three different genders: masculine (der), feminine (die) and neuter (das). Now, in case your first language is English, you might assume, that people are male or female and everything else is neuter – this does not apply for German! In German, the table is male (der Tisch), and the bag is female (die Tasche) while the car is neuter (das Auto). Well, very often the choice of gender might sound random but there are some rules to figure out which gender has a noun. In general, I recommend you to study each noun with its gender which will make your life much more comfortable!

 

Indicators for genders:

Male – der / ein

male persons

male animals

times of the day, seasons, months, days of the week

cardinal points

weather

alcoholic beverages except of beer (das Bier)

 

Classical endings for neuter nouns:

  • -ant (der Lieferant, der Spekulant)
  • -ent (der Dirigent, der Konkurrent)
  • -ich (der Pfirsich, der Kranich)
  • -ling (der Feigling, der Schmetterling)
  • -er (most nouns not all), (der Tischler, der Leiter)
  • -ismus (der Tourismus, der Sexismus)
  • -ist (der Jurist, der Opitimist)
  • -or (der Motor, der Doktor)

 

Female – die / eine

female persons

female animals

Noun numbers

 

Classical endings for neuter nouns:

  • -anz (die Arroganz, die Toleranz)
  • -ei (die Bäckerei, die Fleischerei)
  • -enz (die Existenz, die Konferenz)
  • -heit (die Freiheit, die Krankheit)
  • -ie (die Energie, die Ökonomie)
  • -kein (die Einsamkeit, die Müdigkeit)
  • -ik (die Klinik, die Politik)
  • -ion (die Diskussion, die Information)
  • -ität (die Aktivität, die Passivität)
  • -schaft (die Freundschaft, die Gesellschaft)
  • -ung (die Endung, die Hoffnung)
  • -ur (die Natur, die Diktatur)

 

Neuter – das / ein

color names

substantiated verbs (das Lesen, das Essen, das Schlafen etc.)

 

Classical endings for neuter nouns:

  • -chen (das Bäumchen, das Mädchen)
  • -lein (das Fräulein, das Tischlein)
  • -ment (das Dokument, das Element)
  • -tum (das Eigentum, das Besitztum)
  • -um (das Datum, das Universum)

After reading this article it should be easier for you to choose the right gender :).

Bis bald!

Steffie

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