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 discussing a group of professionals to which both men and women belong, the masculine plural, also known as the "generic masculine," is frequently used. However, in order to give equal importance to the various genders, other plural forms are increasingly being used. Gender-neutral forms with what is known as the gender asterisk or colon are common. However, the asterisk and colon spellings are not yet officially recognized. 

Viele Lehrer*innen (oder: Lehrer:innen) arbeiten auch am Wochenende.

Bankkaufleute arbeiten in einer Bank.