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Grammatical genders in German language

German has all three genders of late Proto-Indo-European—the masculine, the feminine, and the neuter. Every German noun takes one of these genders. The grammatical gender of a German noun does not necessarily correspond with the real-life object's sex (or lack thereof). Nouns denoting a person, such as die Frau ("woman") or der Mann ("man"), generally agree with the natural gender of what is described. However, since every German noun ending with -chen or -lein is grammatically neuter, there exist several notable counterexamples such as das Mädchen ("girl") and das Fräulein ("miss"). Thus these are not illogical, whereas das Weib (old, regional or anthropological: woman) is really an exception. In addition, German assigns gender to nouns without natural gender, in an arbitrary fashion. For example, the three common pieces of cutlery all have different genders: das Messer ("knife") is neuter, die Gabel ("fork") is feminine, and der Löffel ("spoon") is masculine.

Students of German are often advised to learn German nouns with their accompanying definite article, as the definite article of a German noun corresponds to the gender of the noun. However, the meaning or form, especially the ending, of a noun can be used to recognise 80% of noun genders.[1] For instance, nouns ending in the suffixes -heit, -keit, -tät, -ung, -ik, or -schaft are feminine. As noted above, nouns ending in -chen or -lein take the neuter. A noun ending in –e is likely to be feminine; however, this is not a universal rule: die Katze ("cat"), die Blume ("flower"), and die Liebe ("love") are feminine, but der Bote ("delivery boy") is masculine, and das Ende ("end") is neuter. Similarly, a noun ending in –er is likely to be masculine (der Teller, der Stecker, der Computer); however, das Messer ("knife") and das Wasser ("water") are neuter, whereas die Mutter ("mother") can be feminine, as can die Butter ("butter") in many forms of High German, although it is der Butter in Swiss German and Austro-Bavarian.

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