There are a lot of similarities between English and German because both originate from the Indo-European language. What will confuse an English speaking person are the genders used with German nouns. Most languages have a masculine or feminine gender. German has a third gender: neuter.
The three articles used with nouns are: der – masculine; die – feminine and das – neuter. There are no fast rules as to the usage of genders. Der Mann (man) is masculine. Die Frau (woman) is feminine. So far, so good, but Mädchen (girl) is neuter. Genders do not transfer well from other languages. In French table is feminine (la table) but in German it is masculine (der Tisch). If you had to guess which gender to use, guess der. The highest percentage of German nouns are masculine.
The best way to learn German vocabulary is to treat the article of a noun as an integral part of the word. Instead of Buch (book), Tisch (table), Sonne (sun) use:
- Das Buch (book)
- Der Tisch (table)
- Die Sonne (sun).
All German nouns are capitalized. To make things a bit easier, all plural nouns are feminine. Most German plural nouns have either an e, en, er or s added. You might have heard about an Umlaut which changes an a to ä, an o to an ö, and a u to a ü. The umlaut is mostly, but no always, used with plural nouns:
- Der Vogel (bird) becomes die Vögel
- Das Land (country) becomes die Länder
- Das Buch (book) becomes die Bücher
- Der Tisch (table) becomes die Tische
- Die Ente (goose) become die Enten
- Das Auto (car) becomes die Autos.
Learning the noun plurals is a lot like learning gender. It is best to simply learn a noun with both its gender and its plural form.
There is also the matter of addressing a person. An example is the second person pronoun. English has only one – “you.” In German you address family or friends with “Du.” A stranger is addressed with “Sie“, like the old English “thou.” It shows respect.
No matter how you address them they appreciate if you do in their own tongue. So instead of saying, “Hello, how are you?” you can say, “Guten Tage wie geht es Ihnen?”
A Review Of The Top German Grammar Courses For 2011:
The German spelling reform of 1996 led to public controversy and considerable dispute.
Some state parliaments (Bundesländer) would not accept it (North Rhine Westphalia and Bavaria). The dispute landed at one point in the highest court, which made a short issue of it, claiming that the states had to decide for themselves and that only in schools could the reform be made the official rule—everybody else could continue writing as they had learned it.