How to Remember German Genders Efficiently

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So you’re making some good progress with your German, but you just can’t seem to remember the genders.

And, as if having three different genders weren’t enough, they change depending on the context, too!

It’s not always that easy! The German for girl, isn’t feminine, it’s actually neutral. Photo by Melvin Thambi on Unsplash

So, what’s the best way to go about it?

Well, for the most part, memorizing the noun and it’s gender as a package deal is a good starting place. But sometimes even though you’ve spent time memorizing and reviewing vocab, you say the wrong thing when it comes down to the crunch.

After trawling language learning forums and reading up, here are our favorite ways to solidify the gender of German nouns in your memory.

As always there is more than one way but it takes a little trial and error to figure out which one will work best for you.

Literally Associate Genders with Gender

This quirky mnemonic technique works by associating different vocabulary with something or someone you associate with each gender. For example, you choose a hyper-masculine person, in the Duolingo forums someone mentioned about Mr. T, and you associate them with other masculine vocabulary.

So, when you learn the word skirt (der rock), you imagine Mr. T wearing a frilly skirt. We don’t take credit for the idea but it certainly evokes some interesting visuals. If you learn more than one language which uses genders though, this might get tricky in the long run. So, ideally, you’d choose a German-speaking person or character, like Arnold Schwarzenegger to associate those particular genders with one language.

Associate Different Genders with Different Colors

Another easy way to differentiate between genders when you study is by associating them with different colors. Categorizing and associating new vocabulary like this helps your brain to create stronger memories. Choose a color for each gender and stick with it. That could be blue for masculine, green for neutral and red for feminine.

Use Flashcards

Flashcards really are a foolproof study aid. There’s a reason so many language learners use them to learn and review vocabulary. The trick is to review at regular intervals so you don’t forget. And, obviously, in this case, make sure to add the gender to your flashcards, ideally, using a color scheme like the one mentioned above.


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