Das -chen

Some non-English languages have a standard way to modify nouns to create diminutives. This is a particularly wonderful feature that lets you take a word and make it more "cute", emphasizing its littleness and smallness.

die Katze
the cat
das Kätzchen
the kitten
das Brot
the bread
das Brötchen
the bread roll
der Pantoffel, das Tier
the slipper, the animal
das Pantoffeltierchen
a unicellular protozoan of the Paramecium genus

Do you see the pattern? These kinds of diminutives are always neuter, no matter what gender the base word originally had! So even if you haven't seen a specific word before, you know you can use das if it ends in -chen.

Diminutives can also end in -lein, which is similarly always das, but this is much less common than -chen in modern German. Words ending in -lein tend to sound pretty old-fashioned.

Smol prevalence:

Some nouns are used mainly in their diminutive form. For example, das Eichhörnchen is more common than das Eichhorn. das Mädchen refers to a young girl, while the root die Magd (the maid) would sound very archaic in comparison.

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