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The German Plural

The Plural – Introdution

Good news first:

In plural you don´t have to decide between masculine, feminine, or neuter anymore: it´s always feminine.

Bad news:

There are different plural endings: “n/en”, “r/er”, “e” and “s”. There is even the possibility that the noun doesn´t change at all; you just have to change the article. And again: there is no universal rule that works in all cases.

Tip:

It is best to write the plural form together with the noun on another line in your vocabulary list.

Plural with “n/en”

Masculine nouns that end in „ent“, „ant“, „and“, „or“, „ist“:

  • der Student – die Studenten
  • der Polizist – die Polizisten

Feminine nouns that end in „in“, „ion“, „ik“, „ung“, „tät“, „schaft“, „keit“, „heit“:

  • die Universität – die Universitäten
  • die Organisation – die Organisationen

99% of all nouns that end in „e“:

  • die Falsche – die Flaschen
  • die Tasse – die Tassen

 

Warning! For nouns that end in „in“, the „n“ is doubled

Example: „die Kellnerin“ – „die Kellnerinnen

 

Plural with “e”

Many masculine and neuter nouns:

  • der Baum – die Bäume
  • der König – die Könige

Many one-syllable feminine nouns:

  • die Nacht – die Nächte
  • die Hand – die Hände

Warning! For feminine nouns with a, o, u, always add an umlaut (ä, ö, ü).

For masculine nouns, usually add an umlaut (but not always).

Plural with “r/er”

›Many neuter, one-syllable nouns:

  • das Haus – die Häuser
  • das Kind – die Kinder

›In plural, an umlaut is usually added.

Warning! Feminine nouns NEVER have the ending „r“/“er“ for the plural form.

Plural with “s”

All nouns that end in a, i, o, u oder y:

  • das Sofa – „die Sofas
  • das Auto – die Autos
  • die Omi – die Omis
  • das Hobby – die Hobbys

Many foreign words:

  • das Team – die Teams
  • der Jobs – die Jobs

Family names:

  • die Meiers (= Familie Meier)
  • die Müllers (= Familie Müller)

Plural without an ending

If we don´t add an ending a, o and u usually require an umlaut

masculine und neuter words with the endings “-el”, “-er” and “en”

  • der Apfel – die Äpfel
  • der Vater – die Väter
  • das Brötchen – die Brötchen

Warning! Feminine nouns ending with “-el” form their plural with “n”.

Example: Die Kartoffel – die Kartoffeln

Plural of foreign words

Words taken from English usually end in „s“ in the plural form.

Words taken from Latin or Greek often have a special form:

  • das Museum – die Museen
  • das Praktikum – die Praktika

No plural form possible

Some words can‘t have a plural form. They have a singular form only:

  • das Obst  →  no plural form possible
  • die Milch  → no plural form possible
  • der Durst  → no plural form possible

No singular form possible

Some words can‘t have a singular form. They have a plural form only:

  • die Leute  →  no singular form possible
  • die Eltern  → no singular form possible
  • die Ferien  → no singular form possible

Further Information:

  • You can find all of the different rules that determine the article in: The German Gender.
  • There are several different articles. I talk about them in Chapter 2: The Articles.
  • How does the article change in the 4 cases? All about declension: The 4 Cases.
  • Some masculine nouns get an extra “n” at the end in accusative, dative and genitive. It´s called: N-Declension

 

 

 


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