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Nouns, gender and plurals

Compound noun genders

A compound noun is one made up of more than one bit. For example, Rathaus literally means 'advice house' but translates to town hall.

All compound nouns take their gender from the last word in the chain, eg Rathaus is made of der Rat and das Haus. The gender of Rathaus will be das because Haus is the last part.

Zimmer (room) is neuter: das Schlafzimmer/das Wohnzimmer/das Arbeitszimmer/das Esszimmer etc (bedroom, lounge, study, dining room).

Plurals of nouns

A noun in the plural form shows there is more than one, eg cat (singular) and cats (plural).

The German for 'the' in the plural form is always die, eg der Hund (the dog) but die Hunde (the dogs).

Always learn the plural of a new word.

There are several possibilities for plural endings.

Findings plurals in dictionaries

If you look a word up in the dictionary, you will find the plural form in brackets.

The bit in the brackets is added to the end of the word. Sometimes you also need to add an umlaut (only on ä, ö and ü).

Nouns in singular and plural forms

SingularChanged toPlural
der Tisch(e) (the table)Add the e from the brackets-> die Tische (the tables)

die Birne(n)

(the pear)
Add the n from the brackets-> die Birnen (the pears)
das Gebäude (the building)Do not add anything-> die Gebäude (the buildings)
der Bahnhof(e) (the station)Add the e, and an umlaut-> die Bahnhöfe (the stations)

Plural patterns

The most common ones add '-e' or '-en'. For example, der Hund(e) (dog(s)) and die Zeitschrift(en) (magazine(s)).

Feminine nouns

Almost all feminine nouns add '-en'. If they end in '-in', eg Freundin or Lehrerin add '-nen'. For example: die Sendung(en) (programme) and die Freundin(nen) (girlfriend(s)).

Masculine and neuter nouns

Possibilities include adding '-er', '-e', an umault or nothing at all. For example: das Geld(er) (money), der Film(e) (film(s)), der Vater(") (father(s)) and der Onkel(-) (uncle(s)).

Foreign nouns

Words that have been taken from another language, eg baby/radio, add '-s'.

Back to Grammar index

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