Lesson 1 - Nouns & Gender

Welcome to the first German Grammar lesson in this course. The first lesson will cover everything about German nouns and their gender.

Capital Letter for Nouns

In German, all nouns must begin with a capital letter, regardless of their position within a sentence.

  • Wir sind 5 Leute im Haus, meine Eltern, meine Schwester und mein Bruder

In the above example, Leute (persons), Haus (house), Eltern (parents), Schwester (sister), and Bruder (brother) are all nouns; and thus must begin with a capital letter.

Gender of Nouns

Unlike in English, each noun in German has its own gender; either masculine (der), feminine (die), or neuter (das). Plural nouns are always considered feminine (die).
That gender is not necessarily the actual gender of the corresponding real-life object; instead it is purely grammatical. As gender is quite unpredictable, the best thing is to simply learn each noun along with its definite article (der, die, or das).

Gender Noun Definition
Masculine der Mann
der Vogel
the man
the bird
Feminine die Frau
die Blume
the woman
the flower
Neuter das Kind
das Obst
the child
the fruit

Make sure to check the grammar table associated with this lesson for many clues and hints on determining the gender of a noun.

Compound Nouns

The German language contains many nouns that are composed from two or more words connected together (which makes German famous for having very long words). The combined words themselves don't have to be nouns, they could be adjectives, verb stems, and prepositions. However, the last element of the compound noun must be a noun; as the gender of the compound noun and its plural are determined by that last noun.

Nouns Compound Noun Definition
Noun + Noun
der Vater
das Land
das Vaterland fatherland / native country
Adjective + Noun
der Zug
der Schnellzug express train
Verb Stem + Noun
das Wasser
das Trinkwasser drinking water

Definite & Indefinite Articles

Definite articles refer to specific objects, they are similar to the article 'the' in English. All the previous examples shown in this lesson used the definite articles, which are 'der', 'die', and 'das'.
The corresponding indefinite articles, which refer to unspecific objects, and are similar to the English articles 'a' and 'an', are 'ein' and 'eine', shown below.
Noting that as in the English language, there is no indefinite article for plurals in German.

Gender Definite Article Indefinite Article
Masculine der ein
Feminine die eine
Neuter das ein
Plural die -

This concludes the first lesson, make sure to check the grammar tables and the exercises for this lesson before proceeding to the next one.