A better way to learn German gender

I am a great fan of LinqQ and Steve Kaufmann and his reading a listening approach. Following one of his tips “Do what you like to do” I found out that I also really like the Gabbriel Wyner method of using Anki with pictures only to remember vocabulary (no native language) (625 Words).

When it came to learning gender Gabbriel suggested using mnemonic imagery, such as exploding for masculine and burning for feminine. I personally tried blue for masculine, red for feminine and green for neuter. The trouble is attaching the mnemonic seemed quite a lot of work and much too repetitive.

However I believe I have found a better way. This is just to simply incorporate the mnemonics into the word picture as you are learning it.
Example. You can get a picture of a dog on a vivid blue background or a blue dog or a blue ClipArt dog or a dog with a blue strip, just keep red and green out of it., and on the other side have Der Hund. For das Kleid you would have a green dress and for Tache a red bag.

The other thing to do is only have a black and white picture (or drawing) for verbs and adjectives

The beauty of this is that the picture in your mind after a little practise instantly gives the meaning of the word with gender or the meaning of the word and the fact that the word has no gender Black and white so adjective or verb.

PS. When listening to a lesson on LingQ it would be nice if there was a function that would toggled off the sound when you looked up a word and toggle if back on when you had finished looking up the word.

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Of course, you can use mnemonic imagery, different colours or other technics for different German genders if it works for you.
But I think the learners exaggerate the difficulty of German genders.
You can confuse some genders in the beginning of your study but if you read a lot in German you can gradually remember the gender of the most important words, you needn’t worry about it so much.
Besides, there are a lot of German suffixes which we use wirth the certain gender, for example:
im Masculinum: -er, -ler, -ner, -or,-ent,-ling, -ant, -ist, -ismus
im Femininum: -in, -ung,- heit, -keit, -schaft, -ei, -t, - tion, -ik, -ie
im Neutrum: - chen, - lein, -tum, -um, -ment, -nis, -al, at
Hier sind einige Beispiele: der Lehrer, der Student, der Lehrling, der Redner, der Aspirant, die Lehrerin, die Zeitung, die Krankheit, die Fahrt, die Revolution, die Physik, die Geometrie, das Mädchen, das Büchlein, das Lyzeum, das Parlament, das Signal, das Plakat usw.


I have also noticed that there are some common features with things that take a certain gender. Like trees, alcoholic beverages and words that end in -ma of Greek origin are usually masculine in most languages (at least the ones that I have studied).

There are of course similar categories for feminine nouns but I won’t list all of them here and now. I suppose that in languages that have only to genders the neuter ones gets absorbed into the group with masculine ones.

Yes, and you can also notice that all weekdays, all months and seasons are masculine ones, e.i.: der Montag, der Dienstag etc, der Januar, der Februar etc., der Winter, der Frühling etc.
The most occupations have in German two variants, for men and for women: der Arzt- die Ärztin, der Verkäufer- die Verkäuferin, der Lehrer- die Lehrerin etc.

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There’s a theory that the feminine gender in PIE actually came from a particular class of abstract nouns, related to the “itas”, “ity”, “eit”, ость, … endings, which explains why they tend to be feminine.
A couple of exceptions to the above list

  • Greek words ending in ma are feminine in Russian, which causes a lot of confusion to Russian-speakers learning other gendered European languages.
  • Trees are feminine in Latin
    In general there are a lot of exceptions and I think that the color-coded system may work better than memorizing lists of endings, although being aware of some of the categories certainly helps