Hints to remember the gender of Luxembourgish nouns

In this lesson I wanted to answer a question I receive from many, many, many students:

How can I remember the gender of nouns?

I would love to tell you that there is a trick or a simple way of remembering what gender each noun is. Unfortunately noun genders are just one of those things you will have to learn on a case by case basis.

At first, it seems like an impossible task, because Luxembourgish has three genders – masculine, feminine and neuter. So as you go, you will inevitably make some mistakes, but that doesn’t really matter as long as you’ve got the basic ones right. That’s the most important.

So whenever you learn a new word, the first thing to do is to ask “what’s the gender?” and actually write the word down with its gender.

Listen to this weekly lesson on my youtube channel (as of 28th January 2019)

In practice you can guess the gender of many words using generalised rules:

The following nouns are always masculine:

The article for words in these categories is always de(n)* “the” or e(n)* “a or an“.

*In this lesson I only refer to the articles in the nominative & accusative case

Days: Méindeg, Sonndeg …. “Monday, Sunday

Months:  Juli “July

Seasons: Summer “summer“. Exception: d’ Fréijoer “spring

Directions: Süden “south“, Norden “north“, Westen “west” Osten “east

Weather: Reen “rain“, Schnéi “snow“, Niwwel “fog/mist”  

Names of cars and trains: den Audi, den Intercity, den TGV

Names of alcoholic drinks: Wäin “wine“, Béier “beer“, Rhum

People who do something and most occupations:

Affekot “lawyer“, Dokter “docter”, Verkeefer “seller“, Student “student

Note: that the feminine form of these terms almost always ends in -in: Affekotin, Verkeeferin, d’ Studentin, but d’Doktesch.

Nouns ending in –ismus:
Journalismus, Optimismus, Realismus (equal -ism words in English)

Nouns ending in –ist, iker:
Optimist, Jurist “legal expert“, Techniker “technician“, Akademiker “universtiy graduate

The following nouns are always feminine:

The article for words in these categories is always d’ “the” or eng “a or an“.

Nouns ending in heet, keet:
Gesondheet “health“, Fräiheet “freedom“, Méiglechkeet “possibility“, Schwieregkeet “difficulty

Nouns ending in –téit, –ung, –schaft:
Qualitéit “quality“, Realitéit “reality“, Zeitung “newspaper“, Meenung “opinion” Frëndschaft “friendship“, Gesellschaft “society

Nouns ending in ei:
Bäckerei “bakery“, Bei “bee“, Partei “party” (political group)
Nouns ending in –ie: Theorie “theory“, Geographie, Industrie
Nouns ending in –ik: Grammatik “grammar“, Klinick “hospital“, Panik “panic“, Kritik “criticism“.
Nouns ending in –ioun: Situatioun, Reunioun “meeting“, Traditioun “tradition, custom

Nouns ending in –ur and –in: Natur, Kultur, Léierin “school teacher“, Frëndin “friend
but: de(n) Benzin “petrol

Most types of flowers and trees: Eech “oak“, Rous “rose
but: de(n) Bam “tree”

The following nouns are always neuter:

The article for words in these categories is always d’ “the” or e(n) “a or an“.

Nouns ending in –chen: Bréitchen “bun“, Meedchen “girl“, Männchen “stick figure

Infinitives used as nouns: d’ Iessen “ the eating“, d’ Schreiwen ” the writing“, d’Liesen “the reading”

Nouns ending in –ment: Dokument, Experiment, Abonnement

Most nouns starting with Ge-: Gebai “the building“, Geschir “tools“, Gesetz “law“, Gespréich “discussion

but: there are many exceptions, such as de(n) Gedanken “thought“, d’ Gefor “danger“, d’ Gebuert “birth“, d’ Gedold “patience“, d’ Gemeng “town hall“, d’ Geschicht “story“, and others.

I hope that’s helpful for you. Don’t look for shortcuts. That’s really the way to go with the noun genders in Luxembourgish. Some things in language learning you just have to put your head down and remember it. If you’d like to ask me a question send it to me.

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