German nouns have one of three grammatical genders. Unfortunately this word gender in English is a bit confusing, think of it more like genre or category.
The three categories are known as masculine, feminine, and neuter. Each one has a matching definite article – der, die, and das.
|der Garten||der Winter||der Tee|
|the garden||the winter||the tea|
|die Schule||die Temperatur||die Tomate|
|the school||the temperature||the tomato|
|das Haus||das Pfund||das Jahr|
|the house||the pound||the year|
The gender of the word also determines the ending of the adjectives that describe it. We’ll go into that in more detail later on as it involves a bit of memorization.
German nouns have singular and plural forms. The plural is often regularly formed by adding -n or -en, but there are enough irregular plurals that the plural of a noun is usually listed in dictionaries along with the definition.
The plural definite article is always die.
|die Sprache||die Sprachen|
|the language||the languages|
|das Magazin||die Magazine|
|the magazine||the magazines|
|der Mann||die Männer|
|the man||the men|
In all writing that’s even a little bit formal, all German nouns are capitalized. Online writing like social media or text chats usually doesn’t keep the same standards.
As a general rule, German noun gender is unpredictable.
However, there are two neat tricks that you can use to make an educated guess at the gender of the noun.
First off, just under half of all German nouns are feminine. If in total doubt, guess feminine. But two-thirds of monosyllabic nouns are masculine!
Second, many nouns have similar endings, kind of like -ist or -tion in English. At the end of this guide, you can find a table of common noun endings with predictable genders.