In case you have ever wondered how singular and plural nouns are formed, congratulations! You just found the answer to your “how” in this article. But first of all you’d probably like to know the definition of a noun.

A noun is the name of a person (Susan, Paul), place (New York, Berlin), country (France, Germany), Nature (Trees, Seas) an animal (Lion,Dog) or an object (Cup, Pen, Table) etc. Nouns are of various categories in German just like English but their method of classification differs. They have common characteristics which are;

  • They all have genders
  • They all begin with a capital letter
  • They are often used with articles

There are two main types of nouns in German;

  • Singular nouns
  • Plural nouns

Singular Nouns

Singular nouns means just “one item” of any particular noun. Singular nouns are divided into three categories which is known as “gender”. Incase you asked yourself “what’s this now?”, just smile and say like I did : “it’s only the German way of doing their own thing” 😂. The three genders are;

  • Masculine nouns
  • Feminine nouns
  • Neuter nouns

Masculine Nouns refer to nouns that are “male” in nature. This doesn’t mean that they are all truly male but it is just a way of classification and should be learnt so. Examples of masculine nouns are;

GermanEnglish
Garten
Mann
Junge
Onkel
Vater
Schuh
Fernseher
Regenschirm
Schrank
Vogel
Garden
Man
Boy
Uncle
Father
Shoe
Television
Umbrella
Cupboard
Bird
Examples of german masculine nouns

Feminine Nouns connote all nouns that are “female” in nature. Of course in English this may not be true but just like the masculine nouns, it is just a means of classification. Although to some extent, most feminine nouns are those that are usually loved by the female species 😜🤷‍♀️. Some Examples are;

GermanEnglish
Blume
Lampe
Wohnung
Universität
Banane
Suppe
Tomate
Tasche
Flasche
Apotheke
Toilette
Frau
Tante
Mutter
Schwester
Kommode
Schublade
Schule
Flower
Lamp
Flat/apartment
University
Banana
Soup
Tomatoe
Bag
Bottle
Pharmacy
Toilet
Woman
Aunty
Mother
Sister
Drawer chest
Side drawer
School
Examples of german Feminine nouns

Neuter Nouns these are nouns that are neither “male” nor “female”. They are simply neutral. Some examples of neuter nouns in German include;

GermanEnglish
Papier
Regal
Mädchen
Handtuch
Hemd
Tier
Licht
Fleisch
Büro
Obst
Taxi
Ohr
Wasser
Öl
Paper
Shelf
Girl
Towel
Shirt
Animal
Light
Meat
Office
Fruit mix
Taxi
Ear
Water
Oil
Examples of german neuter nouns

**Note that some nouns are always singular in form. In other words, they have no plural forms. In English, these nouns are called uncountable nouns. Some examples are;

GermanEnglishGender
Öl
Wasser
Fleisch
Zucker
Obst
Reis
Oil
Water
Meat
Sugar
Fruit mix
Rice
Neuter
Neuter
Neuter
Masculine
Neuter
Masculine
Examples of german nouns that are always singular

One major challenge that a lot of people face while learning the German language is in the area of knowing what category a noun belongs. I know a lot of German teachers strongly advise that the nouns should be learned together with their definite articles (der, die, das) but I strongly discourage it. The reason is because der, die and das are not the only articles in German. What happens when people learn the nouns with der, die, das is that they become too used to just these three, which makes it difficult to learn the other articles.

Instead, I encourage people to learn the nouns being conscious of the three gender and then the articles differently according to gender as this makes it easier for them to easily switch from one grammatical case to the other with respect to their articles.Although there are certain guidelines that can be followed in order to second guess the gender.

How to know the gender of german singular nouns

  • All nouns that end with -ei, -ung, -keit, -heit,-schaft are Feminine.
  • All nouns that end with -mus, -tum, -ett, -ier, -nis, -chen, and -lein and -ment are Neuter.
  • All nouns that are coined from German verbs are Neuter.
  • All nouns that are coined from past or present tense of verbs without the verb ending “-en” are Masculine.
  • All seasons, weather, months of the year and days of the week and times of the day except “Nacht” are Masculine.
  • All cardinal numbers are Feminine.
  • Most nouns that end with -e are Feminine.
  • Most nouns that end with -er, -el or -en are Masculine.
  • Most nouns that end with -anz are feminine.
  • Most nouns that begin with Ge- are neuter.

Plural Nouns

Plural nouns are the multiple forms (two or more) of all singular nouns. German plural nouns have definite forms just like English. In English, plurals are made by adding “s, es,” or even by changing certain vowels in the word etc. In German, plurals are made by the following rules;

SingularPLural
Mädchen
Junge
Mann
Frau
Vater
Student
Kunde
Orange
Taxi
Büro
Mutter
Schrank
Flasche
Tasche
Lampe
Schuh
Spielzeug
Auto
Tür
Auge
Kind
Mädchen
Jungen
Männer
Frauen
Väter
Studenten
Kunden
Orangen
Taxis
Büros
Mütter
Schränke
Flaschen
Taschen
Lampen
Schuhe
Spielzeugen
Autos
Türen
Augen
Kinder
Examples of german plural nouns

How to form the plural of german nouns

  • Add -e to words that end with consonants e.g Hund ↔️ Hunde, Bein ↔️ Beine etc.
  • Add -n to words that end with “e” e.g Lampe ↔️ Lampen, Flasche ↔️ Flaschen etc.
  • Add -s to foreign words that end with “a”, “i”, “o” and “y” etc. E.g Baby ↔️ Babys, Büro ↔️ Büros, Pizza ↔️ Pizzas, Taxi ↔️ Taxis etc.
  • Add -en to words that end with “r”, “t”, “z” or “ng” e.g Elefant ↔️ Elefanten, Tür ↔️ Türen, Wohnung ↔️ Wohnungen etc.
  • Add -er to one-syllabic Neuter nouns and change the vowel to Umlaut where possible. E.g Ei ↔️ Eier, Kind ↔️ Kinder, Glas ↔️ Gläser, Haus ↔️ Häuser etc.
  • words that end with “el”, “en”, “er” or “lein” sometimes change first-syllabic vowel to the umlaut form where possible but the word endings never change. E.g Lehrer, Onkel, Schlüssel, Fräulein, Vater ↔️ Väter, Bruder ↔️ Brüder etc.
  • Change vowels of some one-syllabic words to the umlaut form where possible before adding -e or -er as the ending e.g Hand ↔️ Hände, Wand ↔️ Wände, Mund ↔️ Münder etc.
  • Change Latin words ending from “a” to “en” e.g Firma ↔️ Firmen, Thema ↔️ Themen, Media ↔️ Medien etc.

In addition to the plural forms of german nouns, all german plural nouns in the dative case always end with “-n” except those that already end with “-n”. Hence they stay that way.

*Note that, just like singular nouns, certain nouns are naturally plural in nature. That is, they don’t have singular forms. This indicates that they are usually many in number. Examples include;

GermanEnglish
Leute
Eltern
Geschwister
Lebensmittel
Zinsen
People
Parents
Siblings
Food stuffs
Interest
Examples of german nouns that are always plural

German nouns can either be simple, compound or complex in form. These compound and complex nouns are often connected to each other with an “-s-” which i call the cement. Simple nouns are just single nouns e.g “Arm” while compound nouns are formed from the combination of two simple nouns e.g “Armband”. Complex nouns on the other hand are formed from the combination of three or more simple nouns e.g “Armbanduhr”. Hence, the longer the word the more complex it becomes with the longest noun in german being Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz which means “the law for the delegation of monitoring beef labeling” in English.

In order to pronounce such long words, you have to systemically pick out every single noun in the combination. Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz broken down will be “Rind-Fleisch-Etikettierung-s-Überwachung-s-Aufgaben-Übertragung-s-Gesetz”

When nouns combine to form complex or compound forms, the overall gender of this combined form becomes the gender of the last noun. For instance; “Armband”, which is a combination of “Arm” and “Band” has its overall gender as that of “Band”. Likewise, the gender of “Armbanduhr” becomes that of “Uhr”.

GermanGenderEnglish
Kuhschrank
Kindergarten
Spielzeug
Schreibtisch
Haustür
Rotwein
Bahnhof
Regenbogen
Ellenbogen
Augenbraue
Kinderwunsch
Milchzahn
Ohrring
Regenschirm
Flughafen
Fleugzeug
Masculine
Masculine
Neuter
Masculine
Feminine
Masculine
Masculine
Masculine
Masculine
Feminine
Masculine
Masculine
Masculine
Masculine
Masculine
Neuter
Refrigerator
Children’s garden
Toy
Writing table
Entrance door
Red wine
Train station
Rainbow
Elbow
Eyebrow
Children wish
Milk teeth
Earring
Umbrella
Airport
Airoplane
Examples of combined german nouns

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