Word formation: professions

In German the words for job titles are different, depending on whether you are talking about a man or a woman.

The feminine form is usually created by adding -in to the masculine form. Unlike masculine job titles, feminine ones ending in -in have a regular plural:

  masculine feminine
Singular der Lehrer die Lehrerin
Plural die Lehrer die Lehrerinnen

 

  masculine feminine
Singular der Ingenieur die Ingenieurin
Plural die Ingenieure die Ingenieurinnen

 

  masculine feminine
Singular der Pilot die Pilotin
Plural die Piloten die Pilotinnen

 

  masculine feminine
Singular der Computerexperte* die Computerexpertin*
Plural die Computerexperten die Computerexpertinnen

 

*When the masculine job title ends with -e, this is replaced by -in in the feminine .

 

Sometimes the feminine form also gets an umlaut.

  masculine feminine
Singular der Arzt die Ärztin
Plural die Ärzte die Ärztinnen

 

  masculine feminine
Singular der Koch die Köchin
Plural die Köche die Köchinnen

 

  masculine feminine
Singular der Anwalt die Anwältin
Plural die Anwälte die Anwältinnen

 

There are also some feminine job titles that are formed completely differently:

  masculine feminine
Singular der Bankkaufmann die Bankkauffrau
Plural die Bankkaufmänner die Bankkauffrauen

 

  masculine feminine
Singular der Krankenpfleger die Krankenschwester
Plural die Krankenpfleger die Krankenschwestern

 

When we are talking about a professional group that includes men and women, the masculine plural is often used. Because this may be considered discriminatory, today both forms are often used together, or a neutral plural is used.

Viele Ärzte und Ärztinnen arbeiten auch nachts.

Bankkaufleute arbeiten in einer Bank.