In my previous blog post, I wrote about the declension of adjectives, and I summed up the blog by stressing the importance of knowing the gender of nouns. Those of you, who have already started learning German, will most certainly have come across the definite articles der, die, das and may have wondered how to know which article goes with which noun. Grammatical gender is, in most instances, not based on natural gender.
The safest approach is always to learn each noun with the appropriate definite article: der for masculine nouns, die for feminine nouns and das for neuter nouns.
Here are some guidelines that will help you determine the gender of specific nouns:
The following nouns are always masculine (der): days of the week, months and seasons, points of the compass and vocabulary relating to the weather, apart from die Sonne. Makes of cars are always masculine, as are alcoholic drinks, apart from das Bier, which is neuter.
Most trees and flowers are feminine. Der Ahorn (the maple) is masculine, though. All numerals used as nouns are feminine, as are motorcycles, ships and aeroplanes.
All collective nouns with the prefix Ge- are neuter: das Gebäck (biscuits), das Gepäck (luggage), das Gemüse (vegetables).
Hotels and restaurants are neuter; hence it is das Savoy and das Hilton. Almost all towns and countries are neuter: das neblige London, das alte Nürnberg, das neue Europa.
Adjectives, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions and infinitives used as nouns are also neuter nouns.
Have you ever wondered what gender a noun has that originates in a foreign language? Those nouns are assigned the gender of the originating German noun. For example, der Computer is masculine as it replaces der Rechner (the calculator), der Spieler (the player) becomes der iPod.
If you want to know more, you may consider taking private German lessons.