A lot of German language learners find it very hard to memorize the articles as there are three possible genders that could go with each noun.
Well yes, in German we use nouns for people, objects, things or ideas and usually these nouns are accompanied by these three articles: der = masculine, die = feminine, das = neuter.
Turns out that the gender often has nothing to do with the noun itself. Girl for example in german is neuter – das Mädchen (so is kid as mentioned already above). Whereas objects, “soulless things”, can be feminine or masculine “bottle – die Flasche, table – der Tisch”. We also refer to them as “er – he” and “sie – she”.
Therefore you should avoid this:
Don’t go down that road and try to put too much sense as to what could go with which gender. Most of the times there is not much logic involved. It’s not going to work in the german language.
So here is what you can do:
My advice – don’t think of a new noun that you learned as a single word but as two words. Meaning: Learn articles straight away:
When starting to learn German, learning the articles is crucial. Whenever you try to memorise a new noun, I strongly advise you to do that including the article plus even the plural if possible. This is the key for you to become an excellent, fluent German speaker. You need the articles in almost every aspect to get a german sentence straight.
I have a pen – Ich habe einen Stift.
A sentence as simple as this needs the article to be right in order to make sense. I am not saying that nobody would understand you if you said “Ich habe eine Stift, ich habe ein Stift or ich habe Stift.” But trust me – it doesn’t sound so great.
Be brave and make mistakes
Now, I by no means want you to worry too much about the articles, especially at the beginning. Please do still speak and be brave and curious to make mistakes. Only by making mistakes we become aware of how to get better – in speaking German, as well as in anything else in life.
One more useful tip for memorizing articles: when learning a new noun which is feminine, imagine a female person interacting with that noun. For example when you try to remember the article for “Blume”, I imagine your mother smelling a flower. For a masculine noun I imagine my dad and for a neutral verb – well that’s up to you – maybe a horse, because horse is neutral in German “das Pferd” eating “das Gras”…
Cheat Sheet and Videos
I have made a cheat sheet for you with a list of nouns that have gender specific endings. These endings help you to determine a lot of nouns by learning them by heart. This is very helpful, no matter where you are at your german learning journey. One example: every word ending with “-ung” is feminine. No exception. Die Zeitung, die Lesung, die Übung…
And I’ve made two videos talking about this:
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