There is a good deal of discussion surrounding the question of what an e-mail is – is it das E-Mail or die E-Mail? Is Car-Sharing (or carpooling as English-speakers would say) masculine or neuter? Would the favorite food of a New Yorker be das Bagel or der Bagel? As a rule of thumb, we translate the word and apply the gender accordingly. Electronic mail means elektronische Post which is feminine. Car-Sharing is an English noun that ends with –ing. These nouns adapted into German are always neuter.

das Car-Sharing, das Shopping

Some foreign words resist translation. A bagel is a bagel. What can we do? Call it der Weißteigring? Foreign nouns get their gender as mysteriously as many German nouns. It is der Chip and das Date and der Blues. Germans are generous as they sometimes offer guests in the German language more than one gender. A cartoon is der and das as well as the bagel. Der Bagel, das Bagel – always with Streichkäse (cream cheese, masculine).


From: Ach ich fühl’s – German for Opera Singers in Three Acts: Studying, Speaking, Singing, Lulu Press, 373 pages, ISBN: 978-1-312-46345-5

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