German Language and Culture
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Learn German for Free - An Online German Course for Young and Old
Lesson 2: Describing yourself and others

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Talking about things; Definite articles

You already now from the previous lesson, that in German, all nouns and Names (people or places) have to be spelled with upper case letters.
Another thing about German nouns that is different from what you know from English, is the fact that every German noun has a gender, which means that it is either 'masculine', 'feminine', or 'neuter'. This is also partly true for English, where you could say that all things have a neuter gender, but in German, there are barely any rules about how to memorize, which noun has what gender.

For example, the word 'Buch' (book) is neuter, but the word 'Lampe' (lamp) is feminine and the word 'Arm' (arm) is masculine. It doesn't make sense, does it? The gender specificity of German nouns makes German a difficult language, but one could also say that this makes German richer, more diverse and more sophisticated than other languages.

The gender in German can be indicated by the definite articles, which always precede their nouns. Since there are three genders, there are also three different definite articles:


Study the following things and memorize the German gender of each of those things:

Click on the blue arrows to hear the words in German.

das Auto
(the car)

das Geld
(the money)

der Lehrer
(the teacher)

die Ferien
(the vacation)

das Konzert
(the concert)

der Kuli
(the pen)

das Radio
(the radio)

das Tier
(the animal)

der Fernseher
(the TV)

der Student
(the student)

die Klasse
(the class)

die Gitarre
(the guitar)

die CD
(the CD)

das Telefon
(the telephone)

der Junge
(the boy)

das Mädchen
(the girl)

der Sport
(the sport)

das Spiel
(the game)

Note that the words 'der Student' and 'der Lehrer' can be made feminine in German by attaching the ending '-in' and changing the article to 'die'. This is a general principle that can be applied to most nouns in German that describe an activity for example jobs.

Even though it is hard and wearisome to memorize the gender along with each German word, it is a very important task. If you don't know the gender of a noun, there will be plenty of consecutive mistakes that you will make, because a lot of endings and other grammatical building blocks that you will have to use depend strongly on the gender of the nouns used.
But don't panic either. It's ok not to know something that is hard to memorize, due to missing clear gender-rules. The key to this whole gender learning is repetition and exercising, both of which you will do a lot on the following pages and in the coming lessons.

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pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12        vocabularies       Exercises [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]

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