How to Memorize Nouns

Rather than memorizing genders and plurals by rote, try to remember short phrases that encode them. For example, instead of trying to remember die Nacht (night), think of the song title Stille Nacht (Silent Night). The –e ending on Stille tells you that Nacht is feminine. For the plural, think of 1001 Arabische Nächte.

You probably already know some other examples, like Guten Abend (good evening), in which the –n should remind you that Abend is masculine. Or take the expression In der Nacht sind alle Katzen grau (“In the night all cats are gray”) – in those seven words you’re reminded both that Nacht is feminine and that Katze (cat) has an –n plural with no umlaut. In general, our brains are better at retaining things in context this way than just in arbitrary lists. And you’ll be strengthening your grammar at the same time.

The other thing that some find helpful is to learn various rules and guidelines: most types of alcohol are masculine, most types of trees are feminine, nouns with certain Latin endings are neuter, and so on. You can find these guidelines in any good textbook or all over the web. In the sections above, we’ve already mentioned the ones that we think are the most important, and we’re not big fans of the others – most of them have enough exceptions that they don’t seem worth the trouble. But your mileage may vary.