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German Plural Nouns

This lesson contains topics:

  1. Nouns that do not change in their plural forms
  2. Nouns that add umlaut in their plural forms
  3. Nouns that add an ending -e and/or an umlaut to their plural forms
  4. Nouns that form plural by adding endings -n and -en
  5. Nouns that form plural by adding endings -er
  6. Nouns that add ending "-s" to their plural forms
  7. Nouns that double the last word
  8. Foreign nouns and their plural forms
  9. Nouns that are used only in singular form
  10. Nouns that are used only in plural forms

English language has generally two forms of plural nouns i.e. adding -s or -es makes a noun plural. Though there are exceptions.

German has many forms of plural nouns. Sometimes an ending is added to a noun to make it plural. Some nouns add an umlaut (e.g. u to ü & o to ö), which also changes the pronunciation of the word. Some nouns add an ending and an umlaut, and some nouns don’t change at all in their plural form.

We shall discuss all these plural forms of nouns below:

Nouns that do not change in their plural forms

Masculine and neuter nouns with the endings -el, -er, -en, -lein do not change in their plural forms.

For example:

Singular Plural
das Fenster (window) die Fenster
der Fehler (mistake) die Fehler
der Löffel (spoon) die Löffel
das Mädchen (girl) die Mädchen
das Zeichen (sign / symbol) die Zeichen
das Zimmer (room) die Zimmer

Nouns that add umlaut in their plural forms

Some Masculine nouns with endings -er and -el add an umlaut to their vowel to form plural nouns.

For example:

Singular Plural
der Apfel (apple) die Äpfel
der Mantel (coat (in dress)) die Mäntel
der Vater (father) die Väter
der Vogel (bird) die Vögel

Nouns that add an ending -e and/or an umlaut to their plural forms

These are variety of nouns with no specific endings. Some just add ending -e and some also add an umlaut along with the ending -e.

For example:

Singular Plural
die Hand (hand) die Hände
der Ball (ball) die Bälle
der Beruf (profession / job) die Berufe
das Boot (boat) die Boote
die Kuh (cow) die Kühe
der Pass (passport) die Pässe
das Telefon (telefone) die Telefone
der Tag (day) die Tage
der Tisch (table) die Tische
die Nacht (night) die Nächte

Nouns that form plural by adding endings -n and -en

Masculine and neuter nouns with the endings -ant, -e, -ent, -or and -ist often form their plurals by adding an ending "-n" or "-en". The plural form in this group is almost always formed "without adding an umlaut".

For example:

Singular Plural
der Junge (boy) die Jungen
das Auge (eye) die Augen
der Löwe (lion) die Löwen
das Bett (bed) die Betten
der Student (student) die Studenten
das Ohr (ear) die Ohren

Feminine nouns with endings -au, -e, -heit, -in, -ion, -ik, -keit, -schaft, -tät and -ung form their plurals by adding endings "-n" and "-en".

Singular Plural
die Frau (woman / wife) die Frauen
die Frage (question) die Fragen
die Idee (idea) die Ideen
die Straße (street / road) die Straßen
die Nation (nation) die Nationen
die Kassette (cassette) die Kassetten
die Universität (university) die Universitäten
die Schönheit (beauty) die Schönheiten
die Klarheit (clarity) die Klarheiten

Nouns that form plural by adding ending -er

Most neutral nouns as well as some masculine nouns form their plurals by adding the suffix "-er". If there is a vowel that can have umlaut form (a, o and u), often an "umlaut is added" to it.

Feminine nouns do not form plurals with ending -er.

For exmaple:

Singular Plural
das Buch (book) die Bücher
das Bild (picture) die Bilder
das Lied (song) die Lieder
das Tuch (cloth) die Tücher
das Handtuch (towel) die Handtücher
das Haus (house) die Häuser
das Land (country) die Länder
das Licht (light) die Lichter
das Kind (child) die Kinder
das Wort (word) die Wörter

Nouns that add ending -s to their plural forms

Nouns that end in vowels a, i, o, u and borrowed nouns from English language, form their plurals by adding "-s" in the end of the noun.

For example:

Singular Plural
das Auto (car) die Autos
das Taxi (taxi) die Taxis
das Foto (photo) die Fotos
der Opa (grandfather) die Opas
die Oma (grandmother) die Omas
die Party (party) die Partys
das Sofa (sofa) die Sofas
die Kamera (camera) die Kameras
das Hobby (hobby) die Hobbys
das Handy (mobile phone) die Handys

Nouns that double the last word

Neuter nouns with the ending -nis and feminine nouns with ending -in double the last word.

For example:

Singular Plural
das Geheimnis (secret) die Geheimnisse
das Ergebnis (result) die Ergebnisse
das Gedächtnis (memory) die Gedächtnisse
das Verhältnis (relation / proportion) die Verhältnisse
die Ärztin (lady doctor) die Ärztinnen
die Lehrerin (female teacher) die Lehrerinnen
die Managerin (female manager) die Managerinnen
die Pilotin (female pilot) die Pilotinnen
die Arbeiterin (female worker) die Arbeiterinnen
die Verkäuferin (shop assistant / saleslady) die Verkäuferinnen

Foreign nouns and their plural forms

Some Foreign nouns keep plural endings from their native languages and some add German plural ending "-en".

Singular Plural
die Agenda (agenda) die Agenden
das Forum (froum) die Foren
die Firma (firm) die Firmen
das Risiko (risk) die Risiken
die Praxis (practice (of medical or law))
For example, die Arztpraxis
die Praxen
das Thema (topic) die Themen

Examples of foreign nouns which have brought their native plural endings:

Singular Plural
das Praktikum (internship) die Praktika
das Lexikon (lexicon) die Lexika
das Visum (visa) die Visa

Nouns that are used only in their singular forms

As in any other language, German also has some nouns that are used only in their singular or plural forms.

For example:

Singular Plural
das Alter (age) -
das Geld (money) -
das Gepäck (luggage) -
das Geflügel (poultry) -
die Gesundheit (health) -
die Hitze (heat) -
der Lärm (noise) -
das Obst (fruit) -
die Zeit (time) -

Nouns that are used only in plural forms

Some nouns are used only in their plural forms and have no singular forms. For example:

Singular Plural
- die Eltern (parents)
- die Leute (people)
- die Geschwister (siblings)
- die Möbel (furniture)
- die Lebensmittel (food)
Some country names are also used as plural
- die USA
- die Niederlande
- die Philippinen

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