N-Deklination of German Nouns

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Did you probably scream at first thought of this like me? “Oh my God! N-what¿¿¿”. Anyways, german is what it is and I find it extremely interesting and worth exploring. At first I thought only adjectives have endings but then I guess I was wrong. Nouns too now have grown some extra wings 🫡. As difficult as it may sound (not really), I have tried to make it even simpler for easy grasping. All you need do is to just flow with me sloooowwwlyyyyy.

Content in this post
1. The concept of N-Deklination
2. How to identify nouns that should be N-declined
3. Sentences with N-Deklination
4. How to differentiate Plural from singular nouns with N-Deklination
Table of content for N-Deklination

N-Deklination simply means the addition of the ending “n” or “en” to a masculine noun. The choice of this ending is dependent on the last letter(s) of the noun. German masculine nouns that end with “-e and -r” often take up the ending -n while those that end with other letter(s) take up the ending –en. To decline a noun, the knowledge of three things is important;

By the type of noun, I’m referring to the gender of the noun. Firstly, the noun has to be singular and also of the masculine category. Secondly, it should end with any of the letter or group of letters which is referred to as the noun-end category that can be declined. While by Grammatic-case, I mean whether the noun is used either as the Akkusativ, Dativ or Genitiv of the sentence.

How to identify German nouns that should have N-Deklination

Even though masculine nouns in the Akkusativ, Dativ and Genitiv cases can take up the ending “-n” or “-en” when used in a sentence, it is not 100% as there are certain conditions attached to their usage. In order to decline nouns in these three cases, the noun must first have certain end-letter(s) which is otherwise termed as German noun-end category as listed below.

Noun-end categoryType of DeklinationExamples
Abstract masculine nouns that end with -e-nGlaube, Friede, Buchstabe, Name, Gedanke etc.
Categorized masculine nouns that end with -e-nJunge, Kollege, Löwe, Rabe, Türke etc.
Categorized masculine nouns that end with -and, -ent, -ant, -graf, -at, -ist-enPraktikant, President, Elefant, Student, Christ, Graf, Geograf, Fotograf, Doktorand, Automat etc.
Uncategorized masculine nouns that end with -d, -t, -z, -sch-enHeld, Architekt, Astronaut, Fürst, Prinz, Mensch etc.
Uncategorized masculine nouns that end with -r-nHerr, Nachbar, Bär, Ungar, Bauer etc.
Classification of masculine nouns with N-Deklination

Categorized nouns simply means nouns that are identified by some definite endings. Hence, those masculine nouns that are easily identified by their end letter(s).

Uncategorized masculine nouns on the other hand are those nouns that don’t have regulated end letter(s) but should be N-declined. The problem with this group of masculine nouns is that they are so irregular and can have several other examples with similar end-letter(s) that can‘t be N-declined. For example; Der Held (N-declined) and Der Hund (not N-declined), der Prinz (N-declined) and der Pilz (not N-declined) etc. With this group of nouns, you just have to learn which should or should not be N-declined or just take a guess trial by error 🥴.

Abstract masculine nouns are a form of categorized masculine nouns that end with –e except that they are neither human nor animals. They are vague and more like ideas and inanimate objects. It is important to note that this category of German masculine nouns take on an extra –s in addition to the N-Deklination with respect to the Genitiv case. For example; der Name in the Genitiv becomes des Namens while der Glaube becomes des Glaubens etc.

Grammatical casesGerman SentencesEnglish Translation
NominativIch bin der PräsidentI am the president
Categorized nouns

Uncategorized nouns

Abstract nouns
Ich sehe den Präsidenten

Ich sehe Herrn Jakob

Ich schreibe den Namen
I see the president

I see Mr Jacob

I am writing the name
Categorized nouns

Uncategorized nouns

Abstract nouns

Ich spreche mit dem Präsidenten

Ich möchte mit Herrn Jakob sprechen

Ich sende morgen das Packet mit deinem Namen

I am talking to the president

I would like to speak with Mr Jacob

I will send the parcel with your name tomorrow
Categorized nouns

Uncategorized nouns

Abstract nouns

Ich bin die Tochter des Präsidenten

Ich bin die Braut des Prinzen

Das sind die richtige Buchstaben meines Namens

I am the daughter of the president

I am the bride of the prince

Those are the correct letters of my name
Sentences with N-Deklination for Akkusativ, Dativ and Genitiv

As already known, N-Deklination is only associated with masculine nouns but in rare cases, it is possible with neuter nouns. For example, Herz in the Akkusativ is das Herz and Dativ becomes dem Herzen while the Genitiv becomes des Herzens. This is an exception.

How to differentiate singular nouns with N-Deklination from their Plural forms

One challenging aspect of N-Deklination is to tell the difference between the singular and the plural since both look alike in form with exception of Herr*. For example, The plural form of Elefant is Elefanten which is the same as the N-declined form. The easiest way to spot the difference is with the article. This is easier because the plural articles are outstandingly different from the masculine. Compare the table below;

Grammatical casesSingular nounsPlural nouns
NominativDer Junge, der Herr*, der AutomatDie Jungen, die Herren, die Automaten
AkkusativDen Jungen, den Herrn*, den Automaten
Die Jungen, die Herren, die Automaten
Dem Jungen, dem Herrn*, dem Automaten

Den Jungen, den Herren*, den Automaten
GenitivDes Jungen, des Herrn*, des AutomatenDer Jungen, der Herren*, der Automaten
Examples of singular N-declined nouns with their plural forms

Note that as default, all Dativ plural nouns that don’t end with an n are normally N-declined.


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