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German Grammar Lectures Lecture 1: The Gender of German Nouns Designed by Paul Joyce University of Portsmouth

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Präsentation zum Thema: "German Grammar Lectures Lecture 1: The Gender of German Nouns Designed by Paul Joyce University of Portsmouth"—  Präsentation transkript:

1 German Grammar Lectures Lecture 1: The Gender of German Nouns Designed by Paul Joyce University of Portsmouth

2 1.1 German noun declension There is no noun declension as such in German. Exceptions: genitive case-(e)s endings on masculine and neuter nouns in the genitive case dative plural -(e)n endings on nouns in the dative plural Endings on weak masculine nouns

3 1.2 German Articles Instead German cases are shown by means of the articles i.e. words such as aor the which are invariable in English. The German definite article is called der and equates to English the. The German indefinite article is called ein and equates to English a.

4 1.3 The Definite Article

5 1.4 The Indefinite Article

6 1.5 Know your genders! For this reason you must learn German nouns together with their gender as shown by the relevant definite article! As the previous tables indicate, German nouns have one of three genders: masculine, feminine or neuter. There are no gender differences in the plural in German.

7 1.6 Quick Quiz (1) Because things are always referred to as it in English, English students of German tend to guess the gender of an unfamiliar word as neuter - das. But are they right to do so? Which of the three genders actually occurs most often in German?

8 1.7 Quiz Answer 45%Approximately 45% of German nouns are masculine. 35%35% of German nouns are feminine. 20%Only 20% of German nouns are neuter!

9 1.8 Typisch deutsch! Whereas in English gender virtually always corresponds logically to the sex of the noun, this is not the case in German. Most German nouns denoting male people and animals are in fact masculine, and those denoting females are mostly feminine. BUT there are exceptions - das Mädchen, das Fräulein, das Weib!

10 1.9 Typisch deutsch (2)! And unlike English nouns, names of inanimate objects may be masculine, feminine or neuter in German. This state of affairs prompted the 19th Century American writer Mark Twain to make the following comment about the German language:

11 1.10 Mark Twain on German genders In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has. Think what over- wrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl. (Mark Twain, 1880)

12 1.11 Basic rules of German gender Whilst you should always learn the gender of any new noun that you encounter, you should also remember that: Certain nouns have a particular gender because of their meaning. Other nouns have a particular gender because of their form.

13 1.12 Quiz (2) – Gender by meaning The meaning of the following nouns tells you their gender. Which is it? And why?

14 1.13 Quiz (2) - Masculine der Arzt; der Löwe - male person / animal der Süden - point of the compass der Herbst - season of the year der Mittwoch - day of the week der Januar - month of the year der Kaffee - plant-based drink

15 1.14 Quiz (2) - Others die Ärztin - female person die Löwin - female animal das Baby - young person das Pony - young animal das Ypsilon - letter of the alphabet (and musical notes)

16 1.15 Quiz (3) - Meaning Same again - only tougher!

17 1.16 Quiz (3) - Masculine der Euro - currency (BUT: das Pfund!) der Balkan - mountain (range) der Hagel - weather phenomena der Abend - part of day (BUT: die Nacht) der Wein - alcoholic drink (BUT: das Bier!) der Mercedes - make of car der Amazonas - non-German river

18 1.17 Quiz (3) - Feminine die Elbe - German river (many exceptions: der Rhein; der Main; der Inn; der Lech) die Vier - name of numeral die Boeing - aeroplane (BUT: der Airbus) (die Honda - name of motorbike) (die Bismarck - name of ship)

19 1.18 Quiz (3) - Neuter Köln, Spanien, EuropaKöln, Spanien, Europa - city, country, continent das Atomdas Atom - physical unit (i.e. das Pfund) das Golddas Gold - metals, chemical elements (BUT: die Bronze; der Stahl, Schwefel) DeutschDeutsch - languages (like most non-nouns used as nouns - das Ach, das Du, Doping)

20 1.19 Exceptions: gender by meaning There are many exceptions to these rules. Just think of countries! masculine - der Irak, der Iran, der Libanon, der Sudan, der Jemen, der Kongo feminine - die Schweiz; die Türkei, die Tschechische Republik, die Antarktis plural - die USA; die Niederlande

21 1.20 Quiz (4) – Gender by endings Find the gender again - now using endings!

22 1.21 Quiz (4) – Masculine nouns -ant - der Konsonant; der Diamant -ich - der Teppich; der Wüterich -ismus - der Marxismus, der Realismus -(m)us - der Rhythmus; der Kasus -or - der Motor (BUT: das Labor) -pf, -ps - der Kopf; der Schlips -tz - der Blitz; der Sitz

23 1.22 Quiz (4) – Feminine endings -a - die Villa; die Aura (BUT NOT -ma) -ei - die Datei; die Bücherei -heit - die Einheit; die Gesundheit -ik - die Panik (BUT: der Atlantik, Pazifik) -schaft - die Botschaft, die Gesellschaft -sion - die Illusion; die Explosion -tät - die Qualität; die Universität

24 1.23 Quiz (4) – Neuter endings -chen - das Bisschen, das Mädchen -ell (stressed) - das Duell; das Rondell -ett (stressed) - das Kabinett; das Ballett -it - das Dynamit (BUT: der Profit, Granit) -ma - das Schema (BUT: die Firma) -tel - das Viertel, das Drittel -um - das Album (BUT: der Konsum)

25 1.24 Quiz (5) - Endings Find the gender again - now using endings!

26 1.25 Quiz (5) – Masculine nouns -ast - der Kontrast -ig - der Honig; der Pfennig -ling - der Liebling Note also that most nouns formed from a strong verb without a suffix are masculine: der Fall, der Biss, der Gang, der Schluss (BUT: das Band, Schloss, Verbot…)

27 1.26 Quiz (5) – Feminine nouns -anz, -enz - die Eleganz, die Existenz -ie - die Biologie; die Hysterie -in - die Freundin (= female being) -keit - die Heiterkeit -tion - die Revolution; die Station -ur - die Natur (BUT: das Abitur, Futur) -ung - die Meinung -sis - die Basis

28 1.27 Quiz (5) – Neuter nouns -il - das Ventil -in - das Benzin, Protein (= chemical terms) -lein - das Büchlein; das Fräulein -ment - das Element (BUT: der Zement) -tel - das Viertel, das Drittel -tum - das Eigentum (BUT: der Irrtum, der Reichtum)

29 1.28 Tendencies: -nis endings We can only speak of tendencies with the following types of endings: -nis - 70% neuter endings: das Ereignis, das Erlebnis, das Bedürfnis, das Ärgernis, das Geständnis, das Geheimnis, das Zeugnis -nis - 30% feminine endings: die Erlaubnis, die Erkenntnis, die Kenntnis, die Finsternis, die Besorgnis, die Wildnis

30 1.29 Tendencies: -er endings Nouns in -er denoting male persons are masculine: der Leiter (leader); der Bäcker Many other -er nouns are also masculine - especially instruments or tools: der Computer, der Wecker, der Stecker BUT many common -er nouns are feminine: die Butter, die Mauer, die Ader, die Feder, die Nummer, die Mutter, die Schwester

31 1.30 Tendencies: -er endings (2) And some 15% of -er nouns are neuter: das Fenster; das Fieber; das Wasser; das Alter Careful! Some -er nouns have two meanings depending on their gender: der Leiter (= leader); die Leiter (= ladder) der Laster (= lorry); das Laster (= vice) die Steuer (tax); das Steuer (steering wheel)

32 1.31 Tendencies: -el endings The majority of -el nouns are masculine: der Onkel; der Enkel; der Flügel About 25% of them however are feminine: die Wurzel; die Regel; die Insel; die Schüssel; die Kartoffel; die Gabel; die Nadel The rest of them are neuter: das Segel; das Mittel; das Bündel; das Mädel

33 1.32 Tendencies: -en endings About 60% of -en nouns are masculine: der Schatten; der Regen; der Magen None of them are feminine! Verbal infinitives ending in -en are neuter - das Kommen, das Essen, das Streben) Other -en nouns are also neuter: das Leben; das Zeichen; das Becken

34 1.33 Tendencies: -e endings About 90% of -e nouns are feminine: die Kirche; die Dame; die Straße etc. There are a number of exceptions: 1) Two masculines - der Käse, der Charme 2) Weak masculine nouns 3) Neuter nouns beginning with Ge- 4) Other neuters: das Auge, das Ende, das Interesse, das Image

35 1.34 Tendencies: -al endings Nouns ending in a stressed -al tend to be neuter: das Ritual; das Lineal; das Journal, das Tribunal, das Arsenal etc. There are a number of exceptions: Masculine - der Kanal, der General, der Skandal Feminine - die Moral

36 1.35 Tendencies: -(i)cht endings Nouns ending in -cht tend to be feminine: die Nacht; die Macht; die Sicht, die Pflicht Exceptions: das Recht; das Licht BUT polysyllabic nouns ending in -icht tend to be neuter - das Dickicht, Röhricht Exceptions - der Bericht; die Nachricht

37 1.36 Tendencies: Ge- nouns 90% of nouns starting with Ge- are neuter: das Gebäude; das Gesetz; das Gerät; das Gesicht, das Gespräch etc. Exceptions include 11 masculine nouns: They are: der Gebrauch, der Gedanke, der Gefallen, der Gehalt, der Gehorsam, der Genuss, der Geruch, der Gesang, der Geschmack, der Gestank, der Gewinn

38 1.37 Tendencies: Ge- nouns (2) Weak masculine nouns: der Genosse / die Genossin; der Geselle / die Gesellin 11 feminine Ge- nouns: die Gebärde, die Gebühr, die Geburt, die Geduld, die Gefahr, die Gemeinde, die Geschichte, die Geschwulst, die Gestalt, die Gewähr, die Gewalt der Gefallen (favour); das Gefallen (pleasure) der Gehalt (content); das Gehalt (salary)

39 1.38 Tendencies: Imported nouns The tendency to say that imported nouns are automatically neuter should be resisted! This is true for some endings - i.e. -o / -eau: das Auto, das Büro, das Kino, das Konto Other imported noun endings are neuter if they refer to things (-är: das Militär, Salär; - ent: das Talent) but masculine when they refer to people: der Aktionär; der Student

40 1.39 Gender of imported nouns (2) Other imported endings are feminine: -ade: die Marmelade, die Ballade -age: die Garage, die Etage, die Courage -elle: die Frikadelle, die Bagatelle -ette: die Etikette, die Toilette -itis: die Bronchitis, die Arthritis -ose: die Neurose, die Tuberkulose -üre: die Broschüre

41 1.40 Recent imported nouns Large scale borrowing of words from English is a characteristic feature of modern German. Many English words adopt the gender of the nearest German equivalent: der Airport (= der Flughafen) das Bike (= das Fahrrad) der Shop (= der Laden)

42 1.41 Recent imported nouns (2) BUT it is the ending of some English words that determines the gender in German: die City, die Party, die Publicity (because -ie is a feminine ending) der Computer, der Dimmer, der Container (as -er for instruments is masculine) Monosyllabic nouns from verbs are often masculine: der Hit, der Look, der Talk

43 1.42 Gender of compound nouns Compound nouns usually have the gender of their final component: der Plan hence der Fahrplan das Bad hence das Hallenbad Exceptions: das Wort BUT die Antwort der Mut BUT die Armut, die Schwermut die Scheu BUT der Abscheu

44 1.43 Gender of abbreviations The gender of abbreviations is determined by the basic word: die CDU: die Christlich-Demokratische Union der HSV: der Hamburger Sportverein Shortened words have the gender of the full form: die Uni (die Universität); der Krimi (der Kriminalroman); der Akku (der Akkumulator) BUT das Foto despite die Fotografie

45 1.44 Quiz: Conclusion See how important it is to know gender rules and exceptions! Using the articles below state how many items there are and their case: Question 1: die Lehrer; der Lehrerin Question 2: der Mauer; der Maurer Question 3: die Katze; die Schätze Question 4: die Mädchen; den Männchen

46 1.45 Quiz: Answers die Lehrer (masc. plural - nom. / acc.); der Lehrerin (fem. singular - genitive / dative) der Mauer (fem. singular - genitive / dative; der Maurer (masc. plural. - genitive) die Katze (fem. singular - nom. / acc.); die Schätze (masc. plural - nom. / acc.) die Mädchen (neuter plural - nom. / acc.); den Männchen (neuter plural - dative)


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