Lektion 5: Erweiterung


graffiti reading "destroy the cis-stem"


Geschlechtsneutrale Pronomen


Arbeit mit dem Hören


Geschlechtsneutrale Plurale

Another area where there are efforts to add more gender equality or gender neutrality to the German language is in the area of nouns and plurals. Words that refer to professions generally have both a male and a female form in both singular and plural. When referring to a mixed gender group, the masculine plural is generally used as the default.


der Student, pl. Studenten
die Studentin, pl. Studentinnen
der Lehrer, pl. Lehrer
die Lehrerin, pl. Lehrerinnen
der Arzt, pl. Ärzte
die Ärztin, pl. Ärztinnen
der Schauspieler, pl. Schauspieler
die Schauspielerin, pl. Schauspielerinnen

For people who are genderqueer, non-binary, or otherwise don’t fit the dual gender paradigm, these words pose a problem. Many people also dislike the masculine plural is automatically the default. There are several different ways to make these words more gender inclusive.


The Binnen-I (word-internal capital I) is an attempt to make the language more inclusive by essentially writing both the masculine and feminine plural forms together. The capital I inside the word is an indication that both forms (Studenten and Studentinnen) are included. The above plural forms would thus be written StudentInnen, LehrerInnen, ÄrztInnen, and SchauspielerInnen. Some think this strategy doesn’t go far enough, as it still relies on the dual gender paradigm and leaves no room for other, non-binary, or third gender options. Others call for making the female plural the default form, but that also relies on the gender binary. The Binnen-I is still likely the most widely used solution for gender inclusivity, particularly in bureaucratic situations, for example by the city of Vienna in their official publications.

Gender_Gap und Gendersternchen*

The Gender_Gap is a revision to the Binnen-I that attempts to be more inclusive by using the gap to give a space for other gender identities within the word. The forms of the plurals would then be Student_innen, Lehrer_innen, Ärzt_innen, and Schauspieler_innen. Another variation on the Gender_Gap is the Gendersternchen (gender star), which is used similarly to the gender_gap. This comes from the computer world, where an asterisk is a wildcard character that can stand in for one or more other characters. The plural forms then would be Student*innen, Lehrer*innen, Ärzt*innen, and Schauspieler*innen. You also see the gender star used in words like Trans* and Inter*, to be inclusive of different terminology preferred by different people, such as Transgender, Transsexuell and Transidentität or intergeschlechtlich and Intersex. When one doesn’t know the gender of the addressee or wishes to be gender inclusive, one could use the gender star to write “Sehr geehrte*r Name” in an email. Sometimes the endings “x” and “xs” are used in place of gendered endings in words. Student and Studentin (Studierende) and Professor and Professorin become instead Studierx and Professx. These strategies are primarily used in writing rather than spoken speech.

Partizip I

A further grammatical strategy for producing gender neutral or gender inclusive words is to use Partizip I, the present participle, instead of a traditional noun form. A present participle results when you use the infinitive form of a verb to make a noun (this is similar to a gerund in English): studieren becomes Studierende (the studiers, the people who study). The result is a plural noun that doesn’t show gender. This strategy has limitations, as it is not commonly used in this way and can only be used to rewrite nouns that are closely related to verbs. Out of our above examples, we could write die Studierenden, die Lehrenden, and die Schauspielenden, but as there is no verb directly related to “Arzt,” there is no participial option.

In Grenzenlos Deutsch you will see a variety of strategies used to represent these types of plurals, so you should be able to recognize them and understand why different spellings and symbols are used. Some examples of how these gendered professions are listed in vocabulary lists include:

die Frauenärztin, -nen / der Frauenarzt, -¨e
die/der Handwerker_in
die/der Käufer*in, -nen/-



Gender definieren

Please visit one of the following two websites that have resources that define (in German) terms that describe the diversity of human gender and sexuality: Queeres Lexikon and Mein Geschlecht.

Click around and read a few definitions (some of the German definitions are more complicated than others. Try to find some words you know (perhaps through their English equivalent) and some that are new, then answer the questions below.

What words did you look up? Which ones were new to you? Are there English equivalents? If so, what are they? Now pick one or two of these terms and use them in a sentence in German.


Pronomen ohne Geschlecht: Beispiele

Here is a table presenting some proposed gender neutral pronoun options in German. Beneath the table are some sources with more information about each option. The German in those pages might be too difficult for you to understand, but they are there if you would like to read more. And who knows, you might be surprised by how much you understand!

Anna Heger (1)sifsinsim
Anna Heger (2)siersiensiem
Anna Heger (3)xierxienxiem
Christian Siefkesseiseiseim

General information and links about gender neutral pronouns in German (scroll to the bottom of the page at this link): https://weltenschmiede.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/gastartikel-er-sie-xier-nin-genderneutrale-pronomen/

Sylvain Konvention: http://www.migrazine.at/artikel/sprache-macht-geschlecht

Anna Heger (1): https://www.annaheger.de/pronomen10/

Anna Heger (2): https://www.annaheger.de/pronomen20/

Anna Heger (3): https://www.annaheger.de/pronomen32/

Christian Siefkes: http://keimform.de/2013/freie-quellen-1/#fn1

Schreiben mit geschlechtsneutralen Pronomen

There are two parts to this writing assignment, a creative piece and a reflection.

  1. Write a short story featuring a character who uses a gender neutral pronoun. You can choose from the table above or make up one of your own. Write the story in the third person singular and consistently use the gender neutral pronoun option to refer to your character.
  2. Now write an author’s note and explain briefly why you chose this pronoun. What are the advantages and disadvantages? What did you learn? Did anything surprise you? Your instructor will tell you if you should write this part in English or German.(Warum haben Sie dieses Pronomen gewählt? Was sind die Vorteile und Nachteile? Was haben Sie gelernt? Hat Sie irgendetwas überrascht?) If writing in German, you might want to make use of words and phrases that are used to express opinions like “meiner Meinung nach” (in my opinion), “ich finde, …”  (I find …), or “ich denke, …” (I think…).



der Ausdruck, -¨e
der Begriff, -e
die Bezeichnung, -en
das Geschlecht, -er
das Merkmal, -e (Geschlechtsmerkmal)
die Zuordnung, -en


auswählen (sep)

Adjectives and Adverbs


Other Useful Words and Phrases