Many German students think it is frustrating to find the proper gender of a noun. This article explains everything you need to know about German nouns with the ending “-heit” and “-keit”.
What is the problem with German nouns?
When studying German, students often complain that there are no rules that help to identify the gender of a noun if it is not as apparent as “der Mann” (the man) or “die Frau” (the woman). But besides guessing the article, there are still some tiny hints and rules that can help you to find out if you should use “der”, “die” or “das”. This article focuses on nouns with the ending “-heit” and “-keit”.
German nouns with “-heit” and “-keit”
You can breathe a sigh of relief because from now on, you know that nouns with the ending “-heit” and “-keit” are always female and therefore need to get “die” or “eine” as an article. This is important to know because otherwise, you cannot adjust your noun according to the grammatical cases like Accusative or Dative. Also, nouns with the ending “-heit” and “-keit” will always become “-heiten” and “-keiten” in plural.
Recommended study materials on the topic:
- A-Grammar: Practice German grammar (incl. answers)
- German self-study book for A1-B1 (incl. answers)
- Schubicards Artikel: der – die – das
- Langenscheid Memo game
- Mindmemo poster – German parts of speech
The roots of these nouns
Besides the fact that you now always know the gender of these nouns and how they change in the plural, there is another thing you can learn from them. If you remove the suffix (ending) “-heit(en)” or respectively “-keit(en)” from these nouns, you always receive the suiting adjective that refers to this noun.
- frei – die Freiheit (free – freedom)
- gesund – die Gesundheit (healthy – health)
- einsam – die Einsamkeit (lonely – loneliness)
- möglich – die Möglichkeit (possible – possibility)
Adjectives and nouns
Though you can reduce every “-heit” and “-keit” noun to its adjective as I have shown above, you should resist the temptation to simply add “-heit” or “-keit” to a random adjective to get its noun because this does not work (!) and will most likely make you invent words nobody understands. If you would like to know more about German nouns, check out the article how to use German nouns with “-ung”.
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