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Weibliche Substantive im Deutschen erkennen: Teil 1 – Detecting German feminine nouns: part 1 Posted by on Jan 12, 2012 in Grammar, Language

Learning German nouns seems to be quite annoying for foreign learners of German because of the three grammatical genders that German nouns can have. In my previous four posts I thoroughly discussed masculine nouns, and in this post I would like to begin with feminine nouns

 

a) Nouns that denote female humans, female animals, and female occupations

Just like masculine nouns denote male humans, male animals, and male occupations, feminine nouns do, first of all, denote female humans, animals, and occupations or positions.

 

Ferminine/female nouns Masculine/male nouns
die Frau – woman 

die Mutter – mother

die Tante – aunt

die Großmutter – grandmother

die Tochter – daughter

die Dame – lady

die Freundin – female friend

die Cousine – female cousine

die Enkelin/Enkeltochter – granddaughter

die Nichte – niece

die Uroma – great-grandma

die Häsin – female hare*

die Henne – hen***

die Hirschkuh – hind*

die Hündin – female dog*

die Katze – (female) cat**

die Kuh – cow

die Löwin – female lion*

die Sau – sow (female pig)***

die Stute – mare (female horse)***

die Angestellte

dei Direktorin

die Lehrerin

die Putzfrau****

die Anwältin

die Flugbegleiterin

die Leiterin

die Rechtsanwältin

die Ärztin

die Friseurin

die Managerin

die Rektorin

die Bürgermeisterin

die Politikerin

die Schneiderin

die Chefin

die Krankenschwester

die Polizistin

die Verkäuferin

der Mann – man 

der Vater – father

der Onkel – uncle

der Großvater – grandfather

der Sohn – son

der Herr – gentleman

der Freund – male friend

der Cousin – male cousin

der Enkel/Enkelsohn – grandson

der Neffe – nephew

der Uropi – great-grandpa

der Hase – hare

der Hahn – rooster***

der Hirsch – stag

der Hund – (male) dog

der Kater – male cat

der Bulle – bull

der Löwe – (male) lion

der Eber – boar (male pig)***

der Wallach – gelding (male horse)***

der Angestellte

der Direktor

der Lehrer

der Raumpfleger****

der Anwalt

der Flugbegleiter

der Leiter

der Rechtsanwalt

der Arzt

der Friseur

der Manager

der Rektor

der Bürgermeister

der Politiker

der Schneider

der Chef

der Krankenpfleger

der Polizist

der Verkäufer

 

* Although there are particular grammatical forms in German to denote female animals we usually do not use them in common speech in German, that is, when you are not absolutely sure about the biological gender of an animal or do not intend to emphasize that, you can always use the official masculine/male form. In other words, it is actually not necessary to learn the female forms because the masculine forms usually refer to both biologically genders, male and female.

 

** The word “Katze” is the only exception to the rule above. The word “Kater” is a more specialized term to denote a male cat. When you are not sure of the biological gender of a cat or do not want to emphasize that you have to use the feminine grammatical form: “die Katze”.

 

*** Some animals have special terms to reveal the gender of it. Those nouns usually have linguistically no direct connection to the name of the species, for example, das Schwein = pig and das Pferd = horse. It is not necessary to learn these biologically more specific terms as long as you know the name of the species. The only exception is probably poultry. Chickens are common domestic animals in Germany and I think that this is the only animal where we Germans draw a more clear line between genders: das Huhn – chicken is for both biological genders; die Henne – hen for female chickens, and der Hahn – rooster for male chickens.

 

**** “Putzfrau” is a common word to denote a cleaning woman in German. When you need to make clear that the ‘Putzfrau’ is a male person you should use “Raumpfleger” or the term that can be used for both biological genders: “die Reinigungskraft”, which is grammatically a feminine noun but there aren’t any special forms that exclusively refer to male and/or female people. So to speak, the meaning of the word “Reinigungskraft” is genderless because it doesn’t give any hints about the biological gender of the person.

 

To be continued…

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About the Author:Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


Comments:

  1. Lee Bergevin:

    Sandra,

    Nur ein Bit an Information. Eine männliche Pferd ist ein Hengst. Ein Wallach ist ein kastrierter Hengst.

    Mit freundlichen Grüßen, Lee

  2. EP:

    I’m sure you’ll be addressing it later, but remember to give a few tips about certain noun endings that help you recognize the gender. Cheers.

  3. Zach:

    It’s especially important to remember to use the female form of cat because “einen Kater haben” means to have a hangover

    Also I think das Mädchen (girl) should be pointed out as a common exception to this rule