Easy Learning German

Forming plurals - Easy Learning Grammar German

  • In English we usually make nouns plural by adding an -s to the end (gardengardens; househouses), although we do have some nouns which are irregular and do not follow this pattern (mousemice; childchildren).
  • In German, there are several different ways of making nouns plural.
  • The definite article changes in the plural, as shown in the table below:
CaseMasculine SingularFeminine SingularNeuter SingularAll Genders Plural
Nominativederdiedasdie
Accusativedendiedasdie
Genitivedesderdesder
Dativedemderdemden
  • For more information on Articles, see Articles.
TipNouns in the dative plural ALWAYS end in -n, except those nouns which come from other languages. Most of their plural forms end in -s. For example:
Mit den Autos hatte sie ständig Probleme.The cars caused her constant problems.

1 Feminine plural nouns ending in -n, -en, -nen

  • Most German feminine nouns form their plural by adding -n, -en or -nen to their singular form.
CaseSingularPlural
Nominativedie Blume (flower)
die Frau (woman)
die Lehrerin (teacher)
die Blumen
die Frauen
die Lehrerinnen
Accusativedie Blume
die Frau
die Lehrerin
die Blumen
die Frauen
die Lehrerinnen
Genitiveder Blume
der Frau
der Lehrerin
der Blumen
der Frauen
der Lehrerinnen
Dativeder Blume
der Frau
der Lehrerin
den Blumen
den Frauen
den Lehrerinnen
 
Die Blumen waren nicht teuer.The flowers weren’t expensive.
Die Lehrerinnen sind ziemlich jung.The (female) teachers are quite young.
Das Leben der Frauen in vielen Ländern ist schwierig.In many countries, women’s lives are difficult.
Wo gehst du mit den Blumen hin?Where are you going with the flowers?

2 Nouns with no ending in the plural

  • Many nouns have no plural ending – these are mostly masculine or neuter nouns ending in -en, -er or -el.
CaseSingularPlural
Nominativeder Kuchen (cake)
der Lehrer (teacher)
der Onkel (uncle)
die Kuchen
die Lehrer
die Onkel
Accusativeden Kuchen
den Lehrer
den Onkel
die Kuchen
die Lehrer
die Onkel
Genitivedes Kuchens
des Lehrers
des Onkels
der Kuchen
der Lehrer
der Onkel
Dativedem Kuchen
dem Lehrer
dem Onkel
den Kuchen
den Lehrern
den Onkeln
 
Die Kuchen sehen lecker aus.The cakes look delicious.
Die Onkel kommen morgen an.The uncles are coming tomorrow.
Das war die Schuld der Lehrer.That was the teachers’ fault.
Es gibt ein kleines Problem mit den Kuchen.There’s a slight problem with the cakes.
  • Some of these nouns also have an umlaut added to the first vowel a, o or u in the plural.
CaseSingularPlural
Nominativeder Apfel (apple)
der Garten (garden)
die Äpfel
die Gärten
Accusativeden Apfel
den Garten
die Äpfel
die Gärten
Genitivedes Apfels
des Gartens
der Äpfel
der Gärten
Dativedem Apfel
dem Garten
den Äpfeln
den Gärten
 
Die Äpfel sind nicht reif genug.The apples aren’t ripe enough.
Die Gärten waren wunderschön.The gardens were beautiful.
Schau mal die Größe der Äpfel an!Look at the size of the apples!
Den Äpfeln fehlt ein bisschen Sonne.The apples need a bit of sun.

3 Plural nouns ending in ̈-e

  • Some masculine nouns add an umlaut above the first vowel a, o or u and an -e ending to form the plural. A few feminine nouns with a in the stem also follow this pattern. Nouns in this group often have one syllable only.
CaseSingularPlural
Nominativeder Stuhl (chair)
die Angst (fear)
die Stühle
die Ängste
Accusativeden Stuhl
die Angst
die Stühle
die Ängste
Genitivedes Stuhl(e)s
der Angst
der Stühle
der Ängste
Dativedem Stuhl
der Angst
den Stühlen
den Ängsten
 
Die Stühle sind neu.The chairs are new.
Die Regierung muss die Ängste der Bevölkerung ernst nehmen.The government has to take the population’s fears seriously.
Die Farbe der Stühle.The colour of the chairs.
Der Tischler macht den Stühlen neue Beine.The carpenter is making new legs for the chairs.

4 Masculine and neuter plural nouns ending in -e, -er or ̈-er

  • Masculine or neuter nouns often add -e or -er to form the plural.
CaseSingularPlural
Nominativedas Geschenk (present)
der Tisch (table)
das Kind (child)
die Geschenke
die Tische
die Kinder
Accusativedas Geschenk
den Tisch
das Kind
die Geschenke
die Tische
die Kinder
Genitivedes Geschenks
des Tisches
des Kindes
der Geschenke
der Tische
der Kinder
Dativedem Geschenk
dem Tisch
dem Kind
den Geschenken
den Tischen
den Kindern
 
Die Geschenke sind auf dem Tisch.The presents are on the table.
Ich muss die Kinder abholen.I have to pick up the children.
Die Auswahl der Tische im Laden war groß.The shop had a large selection of tables.
Sie geht mit den Kindern spazieren.She’s going for a walk with the children.
  • Some masculine and neuter nouns add an umlaut above the first vowel a, o or u and an -er ending in the plural.
CaseSingularPlural
Nominativedas Dach (roof)
der Mann (man)
die Dächer
die Männer
Accusativedas Dach
den Mann
die Dächer
die Männer
Genitivedes Dach(e)s
des Mannes
der Dächer
der Männer
Dativedem Dach
dem Mann
den Dächern
den Männern
 
Die Dächer werden repariert.The roofs are being repaired.
Man hatte die Männer völlig vergessen.The men had been completely forgotten.
Was ist die Rolle der Männer in unserer Gesellschaft?What is the role of men in our society?
Die Frauen sollten den Männern nicht immer recht geben.Women should not always agree with men.

5 Some unusual plurals

  • There is another group of German nouns which don’t follow any of the rules for forming plurals – you just have to remember them! Here are some of the most common ones. As you will see, many of them are words from other languages, and it is common for such words to form their plural by adding -s:
SingularMeaningPlural
das Autocardie Autos
das Hotelhoteldie Hotels
das Restaurantrestaurantdie Restaurants
das Babybabydie Babys
das Thematheme, topic, subjectdie Themen
das Dramadramadie Dramen
das Risikoriskdie Risiken
der Parkparkdie Parks
der Chefboss, chief, headdie Chefs
die Firmafirmdie Firmen
 
Die Hotels in der Stadt sind ziemlich teuer.The hotels in town are quite expensive.
Die Risiken sind sehr hoch.The risks are very high.
Die Kinder finden die Babys ganz niedlich.The children think the babies are really cute.
Was hältst du von den Preisen der Autos?What do you think of the prices of the cars?
Das ist die Stadt mit den vielen Parks.That’s the town with all the parks.

6 Plural versus singular

  • Some nouns are always plural in English, but singular in German.
eine Brilleglasses, spectacles
eine Scherescissors
eine Hosetrousers
  • These nouns are only used in the plural in German to mean more than one pair.
zwei Hosentwo pairs of trousers

7 Nouns of measurement and quantity

  • These nouns, used to describe the quantity or size of something, usually remain singular, even if preceded by a plural number.
Möchten Sie zwei Stück?Would you like two?
Ich wiege fünfzig Kilo.I weigh eight stone.
  • The substance which they measure follows in the same case as the noun of quantity, and NOT in the genitive case as in English.
Sie hat drei Tassen Kaffee getrunken.She drank three cups of coffee.
Er wollte zwei Kilo Kartoffeln.He wanted two kilos of potatoes.
Drei Glas Weißwein, bitte!Three glasses of white wine, please.
Key points
  • Most German feminine nouns form their plural by adding -n, -en or -nen to their singular form.
  • Many nouns have no plural ending – these are mostly masculine or neuter singular nouns ending in -en, -er or -el. Some of these nouns also have an umlaut added to the vowel in the plural.
  • Some masculine nouns add an umlaut above the first vowel a, o or u and an -e ending to form the plural. A few feminine nouns with a in the stem also follow this pattern.
  • Masculine and neuter nouns often add -e or -er in the plural, and can sometimes add an umlaut above the first vowel a, o or u.
  • There are some unusual plural nouns in German which don’t follow any pattern.
  • Some nouns are always plural in English, but singular in German.
  • Nouns of measurement and quantity usually remain singular even if preceded by a plural number.
  • The substance which they measure follows in the same case as the noun of quantity.

Ver contenido relacionado

NUEVO de Collins!
NUEVO de Collins!
Listas de palabras en inglés
Listas de palabras en inglés
Últimas palabras recibidas
Últimas palabras recibidas
Fácil aprendizaje de la gramática inglesa
Fácil aprendizaje de la gramática inglesa
COBUILD Gramática
COBUILD Gramática
Blog de los enamorados de las palabras
Blog de los enamorados de las palabras
Comprobador de Scrabble en línea
Comprobador de Scrabble en línea
The Paul Noble Method
The Paul Noble Method
Create an account and sign in to access this FREE content
Register now or login in to access