Tips and tricks for memorising the noun gender in German

Author: Jadranka Bokan

As you may already know, there are some suffixes that can help you recognise the noun gender.

However, learning them by heart can be very difficult. For example, I can always remember that -ung, -schaft, -heit and -keit signal that the noun if feminine, but I am never sure what -tum signals – is it masculine or neuter?

Learning by heart signal suffixes for noun genders in German is very cumbersome

Even if you do manage to memorise all signal-suffixes, there will still be many other nouns which do not end with those suffixes. How can we learn their gender?

Some tips and tricks could be very helpful here.

1) You should make an effort to memorize noun gender only for those words which have different gender from the same nouns in your mother tongue. Examples: ‘Stuhl’ is masculine in German, but it is feminine in my mother tongue; ‘Tisch’ is masculine in both German and my mother tongue. Thus, I will put an effort into trying to memorise the gender of ‘Stuhl’, while I do not need to lose time for memorizing the gender of ‘Tisch’.

Are you making these most common mistakes?

2) You could visualise the noun gender. You can use colours when writing the nouns in your vocabulary book: you could for example write female nouns in red, masculine in blue and neuter in yellow or green.

Learning HOW TO LEARN noun gender in German is deliberating

3) You could imagine masculine nouns (objects) with a hat on them, feminine nouns with braids and neuter nouns with a diper.  You get the picture. Feel free to come up with any other similar system.

4) You could even put the nouns with the same gender in some mutual connection or context and create something like mental maps. Here is an example: I memorised a hill, a tree, a monkey and an apple all together. Since they are all masculine (der Berg, der Baum, der Apfel, der Affe), I imagined: the tree was on the top of the hill, a monkey sat on the tree and the apple was there too. This helped me remember their gender easier. Drawing on a piece of paper can help here too.

5) Children love using colourful threads. They write words on little pieces of paper and hang them to the appropriate thread: red for feminine, blue for masculine and yellow/green for neuter. The threads can be fixed to some wall or board and new words can be added to them at any time.

If you use some other tricks which you would like to share, please contact me here.

Tools, Tips and News for German language Teachers and Learners