Der? Die? Das? What gender does a Bagel have?


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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Published by


Bernd Hendricks. Born in Duisburg, Germany. Based in Berlin. Writer, German Language Educator. I was six years old when I went to the opera for the first time. My Grandma took me to Hänsel und Gretel at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Duisburg. The first time I met an opera singer personally was during my time as foreign correspondent in New York when at a Christmas party a baritone pelted me with questions about the language of Zauberflöte. He was preparing for his role as Papageno. After my return to Berlin in September 2010, I have been giving German lessons to singers on their audition tours. My workshops in Berlin, Vienna, and London are based on my widely read book Ach, ich fühl’s—German for Opera Singers in Three Acts: Studying, Speaking, Singing. My latest book, Die Frist ist um—Navigate the Language of 10 German Operas, takes you on a journey through the language of the most popular and often performed operas in the German-speaking countries. I am also the author of several non-fiction books and two novels.

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