German Nouns: Gender, Masculine, Feminine, and Plural Forms

Nouns can be generally described as identifying words or names for an object, concept, idea, state, action, or other various things to be found in human existence.

There is no difference in terms of what words qualify as nouns between English and German; however, there are numerous qualities that German nouns have which do not exist in English.

In the following section, “Nouns”, I will briefly introduce the particularities of nouns as it relates to the German language, and further dive into those particularities in the further subheadings.

In German, nouns exist in three genders, namely masculine, feminine, and neuter, and are identifiable with or without articles. They are declined according to the four cases. They are always capitalized, making them easily identifiable in a sentence. German words exist in singular and plural forms, with often irregular and unpredictable plural forms.

As mentioned in compound words, a particular quality of the German language is the capacity to essentially create words of unlimited length, combining individual nouns together to create “monster” compound words.

Gender List

German nouns are always assigned a gender, which are not always predictable by the form of the word and in rare cases have discrepancies (in some cases, a word can have two genders, depending on who you ask).

Thus, in learning German grammar it is essential to always learn the gender together with the noun. This can be achieved by learning the article which identifies a German noun’s gender.

Articles exist in numerous categories and are declined, but this will be discussed later in Articles. For now, I will discuss the gendering of nouns in definite (the/these/those) form in the nominative case.

The nominative articles for words are divided into four principle categories: definite (the/these/those), indefinite (a/some), negative (no), and zero (essentially the absence of an article). The nominative form of nouns is the basic version found in a dictionary or in vocabulary lists, and the gender is always indicated. 

For masculine words, the definite article “the” is “der”. For feminine words, it is “die”. For neuter words, it is “das”. For example: 

  • Der Bauer, die Bäuerin und das Schwein
  • The male farmer, the female farmer, and the pig

While there is no way to know the gender of a noun with 100% assurance, there are some indications which can assist in the correct identification of a gender.

Masculine Nouns

Are Often Male-Sex People/Occupations

  • der Vater (the father)
  • der Sänger (the male singer)

Are Months and Days

  • (der) Montag
  • (der) Januar

Note: these are often employed with no articles, for example “on Monday” is Montag (no article)

Often End in

-antder Offiziant (the officer)
der Elefant (the elephant)
-eichder Bereich (the area)
der Streich (the prank)
-elder Ärmel (the sleeve)
der Spiegel (the mirror)
-erder Adler (the eagle)
der Eifer (the zeal)
-ichder Teppich (the carpet)
der Stich (the stab)
-igder Essig (the vinegar)
der Honig (the honey)
-ismusder Rassismus (the racism)
der Antisemitismus (the antisemitism)
-lingder Schmetterling (the butterfly)
der Bratling (the patty)
-nerder Schaffner (the conductor)
der Ärmelschoner (the sleeve protector)
-order Chor (the choir)
der Kunstdirektor (the director of art)
-usder Bus (the bus)
der Fokus (the focal point)

Feminine Nouns

Are Often Female-Gender People/Occupations

  • die Mutter (the mother)
  • die Saengerin (the female singer)

Are Often Foreign Words Ending in

-adedie Fassade (the facade)
from French, la façade
die Montage (the assembly)
from French, le montage
-anzdie Arroganz (the arrogance)
from Latin, arrogantia
-enzdie Konkurrenz (the competition)
from Italian, la concorrenza
-ikdie Logik (the logic)
from Greek, λογική
-iondie Konstitution (the constitution)
from French, la constitution
-taetdie Identität (the identity)
from Latin, identitās
-urdie Kultur (the culture)
from Latin, cultura

Often End in

-edie Matratze (the mattress)
die Fratze (the grimace)
-eidie Polizei (the police)
die Quälerei (the agony)
-heitdie Gesundheit (the health)
die Unannehmlichkeit (the inconvenience)
-iedie Enzyklopädie (the encyclopedia)
die Demokratie (the democracy)
-keitdie Süßigkeit (the piece of candy)
usually used in plural
die Sehenswürdigkeit (the attraction/point of interest)
-schaftdie Belegschaft (the workforce)
die Mannschaft (the team)
-siondie Sponsion (the graduation ceremony)
die Depression (the depression)
-tdie Flucht (the fleeing)
die Wut (the anger)
-tiondie Konzentration (the concentration)
die Aspiration (the aspiration)
-ungdie Ordnung (the order)
die Bewegung (the movement)
-urdie Natur (the nature)
die Schnur (the yarn)

Neuter Nouns

Are Often Diminutives with -chen or -lein 

  • These are suffixes attributed to a standard noun to make it a “smaller version”
  • der Hund (the dog) becomes das Huendchen (the small dog)
  • Note: this also applies to the Austrian German diminutive suffix -erl
  • der Breze (the pretzel) becomes das Brezerl (the smaller pretzel)

Are Often Colors

  • das Rot (the red)
  • das Rosa (the pink)

Are Often Metals

  • das Plutonium (the plutonium)
  • das Aluminium (the aluminum)

Are Often Nouns Derived from Verbs

This is a special use of a verb as a noun, such as the English “the taking of” or “the studying of”

  • das Backen (the backing of)
  • das Wandern (the hiking) 

Are Often Nouns Derived from Adjectives

Often End in

-ialdas Angriffspotenzial (the potential for attack)
das Material (the material)
-iumdas Planetarium (the planetarium)
das Stipendium (the scholarship)
-madas Klima (the climate)
das Drama (the drama)
-mentdas Dokument (the document)
das Medikament (the medication)
-nisdas Ergebnis (the result)
das Hindernis (the obstacle)
-odas Portfolio (the portfolio)
das Bankkonto (the bank account)
-tumdas Datum (the date)
das Judentum (Judaism)
-umdas Forum (the forum)
das Publikum (the audience)

Common Gender Exceptions

Exceptions to gender rules above are most commonly rooted in 3 reasons:

A single spelling with different genders for different meanings

  • der See (the lake)
  • die See (the ocean)

An exception to the male/female-gender person or occupation rule

  • das Mädchen (the girl) is neuter, but der Junge (the boy) is masculine

A regional difference

  • die Mail (the email) in Northern Germany, but das Mail (the email) in Southern Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

Plural Form

The plural form of nouns in German is unfortunately not entirely predictable, just like the gender of nouns.

While there are many patterns, there are also many exceptions. I would recommend learning both the gender and the plural form of every noun that you learn in order to best ensure accuracy in learning. 

The plural form for German words is most often formed by adding endings to a word, like in English. The most common endings are listed below, listed by singular form endings. Note that the plural article in the nominative case is “die”, not to be confused with the “die” for the singular feminine article in the nominative case. 


Masculine Nouns Ending in

-eurder Friseur (the barber)
die Friseure (the barbers)
-ichder Nymphensittich (the cockatiel)
die Nymphensittiche (the cockatiels)
-ierder Stier (the bull)
die Stiere (the bulls)
-igder König (the king)
die Könige (the kings)
ingder Flüchtling (the refugee)
die Flüchtlinge (the refugees)

Feminine Nouns that are One Syllable

  • die Wand (the wall)
  • die Wände (the walls)
  • die Hand (the hand)
  • die Hände (the hands)

Note: that in the plural form, the umlaut is often added


Masculine Nouns Ending in

-andder Kommandant (the commandent)
die Kommandanten (the commandents)
-antder Garant (the guarantor)
die Garanten (the guarantors)
-eder Junge (the boy)
die Jungen (the boys)
-entder Agent (the agent)
die Agenten (the agents)
-istder Polizist (the policeman)
die Polizisten (the policemen)
-order Autor (the author)
die Autoren (the authors)

Feminine Nouns Ending in

-edie Serie (the series, the tv show)
die Serien (the series)
-ikdie Grafik (the graphic)
die Grafiken (the graphics)
-indie Studentin
die Studentinnen
Note: plurals for feminine-sex nouns like this add “-nen” after the “n” ending of the singular form
iondie Billion (the trillion)
die Billionen (the trillions)
-heitdie Hoheit (the royal highness)
die Hoheiten (the royal highnesses)
-keitdie Neuigkeit (the news)
die Neuigkeiten (the news)
-schaftdie Nachbarschaft  (the neighborhood)
die Nachbarschaften (the neighborhoods)
-taetdie Universität (the university)
die Universitäten (the universities)
-ungdie Zusammenfassung (the summary)
die Zusammenfassungen (the summaries)


Neuter Nouns that are One Syllable

  • das Buch (the book)
  • die Bücher (the books)
  • das Huhn (the chicken)
  • die Hühner (the chickens)

Note: in the plural form, the umlaut is often added


Masculine Nouns Ending in

-ader Ara (the macaw)
die Aras (the macaws)
-ider Kolibri (the hummingbird)
die Kolibris (the hummingbirds)
-oder Po (the butt)
die Pos (the butts)
-uder Akku (the battery)
die Akkus (the batteries)
-yder Curry (the curry)
die Currys (the curries)

Feminine Nouns Ending in

-adie Vokuhila (the mullet)
die Vokuhilas (the mullets)
-idie Uni (the university)
die Unis (the universities)
Note: this is an abbreviated form for die Universität
-odie Pomelo (the pomelo)
die Pomelos (the pomelos)
-udie GPU (the GPU)
die GPUs (the GPUs)
-ydie Party (the party)
die Partys (the parties)

Neuter Nouns Ending in

-adas Aroma (the aroma)
die Aromas (the aromas)
-idas Etui (the case)
die Etuis (the cases)
-odas Fiasko (the fiasco)
die Fiaskos (the fiascos)
-udas Taboo (the taboo)
die Taboos (the taboos)
-ydas Handy (the cell phone)
die Handys (the cell phones)

Nouns Which Remain the Same in Singular and Plural

In German, as in English, certain words do not change in spelling in singular or plural. In English, one could take “the sheep” or “the series” as examples. While the list is extensive, you should be aware that not all words will have different forms for singular and plural, and the only way to recognize this is by context or other declensions in a sentence. 

Here are, however, certain indications of possible cases in which the singular and plural forms are unchanging.


das Kätzchen (the small cat)das Kätzchen (the small cats)
das Fischlein (the small fish)die Fischlein (the small fish)
das Sackerl (the small bag, in Austria)die Sackerl (the small bags, in Austria)

Words ending in

-erder Boxer
die Boxer
-elder Ärmel (the sleeve)
die Ärmel (the sleeves)
-endas Abendessen (the dinner)
die Abendessen (the dinners)

Areas of Possible Confusion for Plurals

In some cases, a word which is singular in English may be plural in German, or vice versa. These words could have both singular or plural forms, or just one form. For example, “the news” can be the singular “die Nachricht” or the plural “die Nachrichten” in German. Alternatively, “die Brille” is singular in German for the plural “the eyeglasses” in English. But, in German, “die Brillen” (the plural of “die Brille”) signifies multiple pairs of eyeglasses. This in English is only achievable by adding “pair”. 

In both English and German, a plural form of a word can change its meaning. In English, “the fishes” refers to different type of fish, whereas “the fish” refers to either a singular or multiple fish. In German, there is also this concept. For example, “das Wein” (the wine) and “die Weine” (the different types of wine).

Uncountables are nouns which cannot, hence the name, be counted. In German and English most of these are shared: air, flour, chocolate, peanut butter, water, milk, etc. In identifying quantities of these, you have to add quantity units like “how much” instead of “how many”,“a pound of…”, or “a pair of” instead of a number.

To structure these quantity units in conjunction with the object it is quantifying, you can use a few different structures:

(1). Make a compound noun by adding the object in front of the unit of quantity 

eine Sandwich-Scheibe (a sandwich slice)

  • das Sandwich (the sandwich)
  • die Scheibe (the slice)

Note: the gender of the compound noun is the gender of the unit of quantity

(2). Place the object behind the unit of quantity and put it in genitive

  • die Scheibe des Sandwiches

(3). Place the object behind the unit of quantity and add “von” (of) between the unit of quantity and the subject

  • die Scheibe vom Sandwich

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