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German Suffixes And Word Genders Posted by on Mar 31, 2021 in Language

Guten Tag! Today we’re revisiting the subject of German word genders (articles), and how you can recognise if German words are masculine (der), feminine (die) or neuter (das), by looking at their suffixes.

Learning the genders of every single German noun is no small task – especially when there is no hard and fast rule about which takes which! So don’t be disheartened if you mix yours up from time to time. It’s often recommended to learn the gender along with the word itself, so the two become one word in your mind – so instead of learning the word for book as Buch, you learn it as das Buch, which makes the correct gender easier to recall.

Another little trick is to learn that in German, certain suffixes (word endings) take certain genders. That means you can figure out some words’ genders based on their suffixes – for example, the suffix -chen takes ‘das’, so the word Mädchen (girl) is das Mädchen.

In this post, I’ll list a handful of suffixes that take der, die, and das, to help you become familiar with them all. German being German, there are some exceptions to the rule, but I hope starting to see the repeating patterns will help you when you’re confused!

German Suffixes And Word Genders

suffixes

Photo by Hayley Maxwell on Unsplash

Suffixes taking der

-ist
Examples: der Gitarrist (guitarist); der Flötist (flutist); der Tourist (tourist); der Polizist (policeman) – note these are all used for men, and their female equivalent would have the suffix ‘in’ after it (see ‘suffixes taking die’, below)

-ich
Examples: der Teppich (rug); der Bereich (area); der Wellensittich (budgie); der Bienenstich (bee sting).

-ling
Examples: der Feigling (coward); der Schmetterling (butterfly); der Frühling (spring season); der Säugling (baby).

-or
Examples: der Horror (horror); der Professor (professor); der Motor (motor); der Autor (author).

-eich
Examples: der Bereich (area); der Vergleich (comparison) – however, words related to das Reich (empire), for example das Königreich (kingdom), are neuter (das).

-iker
Examples: der Chemiker (chemist); der Diabetiker (diabetic); der Asthmatiker (asthmatic).

 

suffixes

Photo by Brett Carey on Unsplash

Suffixes taking die

-enz
Examples: die Existenz (existence); die Konkurrenz (competition); die Turbulenz (turbulence); die Assistenz (assistance)

-ung
Examples: die Umarmung (hug); die Zeitung (newspaper); die Lösung (solution)

-keit
Examples: die Einsamkeit (loneliness); die Gemütlichkeit (cosiness); die Schlaflosigkeit (sleeplessness).

-heit
Examples: die Freiheit (freedom); die Schwachheit (weakness); die Gesundheit (health); die Gleichheit (equality).

-schaft
Examples: die Schwangerschaft (pregnancy); die Gemeinschaft (community); die Gesellschaft (society).

-tät
Examples: die Realität (reality); die Kreativität (creativity); die Individualität (individuality); die Funktionalität (functionality).

-in
(For females) Examples: die Freundin (girlfriend/female friend); die Lehrerin (female teacher); die Polizistin (policewoman); die Tänzerin (female dancer).

 

suffixes

Photo by Sergey Shmidt on Unsplash

Suffixes taking das

-chen
Examples: das Mädchen (girl); das Mäuschen (little/baby mouse); das Kätzchen (little/baby cat); das Bäumchen (little/young tree). See this post on diminutives to learn more.

-lein
Examples: das Fräulein (young/unmarried woman); das Fischlein (little fish); das Kerzlein (little candle); das
Kindlein (little child). See this post on diminutives to learn more.

-tum
Examples: das Christentum (Christianity); das Altertum (antiquity); das Eigentum (property).

-ment
Examples: das Argument (argument); das Medikament (medication); das Kompliment (compliment); das Firmament (heavens/firmament)

 

I hope this helps! Thanks for reading,
Constanze

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


Comments:

  1. Allan Mahnke:

    This is extremely useful. Thank you!
    It isn’t really a suffix, and there are exceptions (many), but it might also help to remember that many word ending in e are feminine.

    • Constanze:

      @Allan Mahnke Yes that’s true, Allan! I wanted to try and make it as easy as possible with this post so I omitted some of the ones that have lots of exceptions or are only single letters, but you’re right about the ‘e’! 🙂

  2. Richard Roan:

    The lessons on wordending are well done. I will print it and see it every day henceforth. Viel und dank. R.R.

  3. Elaine:

    Danke! This is super helpful!

  4. Harry:

    It’s been a problem for a while, thanks for the tips.
    Harry.


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