In German, there are three genders that are indicated by the definite article.


  Examples article
gender masculine der Motor der
feminine die Nacht die
neuter das Buch das


In contrast to the number and case of a noun that undergo changes, the gender of a noun remains unchanged.



Grammatical vs natural gender


The grammatical gender is, to a great extent, arbitrary. That is why one should learn it with the noun. There are no particular rules that determine the gender of a noun, except some morphological features that can, sometimes, indicate the gender of a noun.


Nouns that refer to people or other animate creatures have both a natural (male or female) and a grammatical gender, which are consistent.


Example Mann Frau
natural gender masculine feminine
grammatical gender der Mann die Frau


There are, however, a few exceptions. The noun Mädchen, for example, which is neuter (grammatical gender: neuter das Mädchen), although it refers to a person of the feminine gender (natural gender: feminine).


When referring to animals, quite often the natural gender is not consistent with the grammatical gender, especially with

- nouns that indicate a group of animals of the same species e.g. das Pferd, die Biene, das Rind, das Schwein etc.

- or young animals like das Lamm, das Kalb, das Küken, der Welpe etc.