So, you already know genders, articles. Now it is time to learn how to make plural forms of Dutch nouns!
Learning how to form plural nouns in Dutch is an essential part of mastering the language. Being able to use plural forms correctly is necessary for effective communication, whether it's in written or spoken Dutch. Additionally, knowing the plural forms of Dutch nouns can help learners comprehend written materials more easily, as plural forms are used frequently in both formal and informal writing. Moreover, using the wrong plural form of a noun can sometimes change its meaning or even cause confusion, highlighting the importance of mastering plural forms. Overall, learning plural forms of Dutch nouns is an essential component of achieving proficiency in the language.
In Dutch, plural nouns are formed by adding either -en or -s to the singular form.
Adding -en (the n is pronounced softly) to most nouns:
- Examples: boek - boeken (book(s)), jas - jassen (coat(s)), haar - haren (hair(s)), huis - huizen (house(s)).
- Some spelling changes apply, such as dropping the one vowel in words with long vowels, or doubling the following consonant in words with short vowels.
Adding -s to nouns ending in the unstressed syllables -el, -em, -en, and -er (and -aar(d), -erd, -ier when referring to people), foreign words, and most nouns ending in an unstressed vowel:
- Examples: tafel - tafels (table(s)), jongen - jongens (boy(s)), tante - tantes (aunt(s)), bakker - bakkers (baker(s)).
- Nouns ending in -a, -o, and -u add an apostrophe before the s: foto's, paraplu's.
Some nouns containing a short vowel do not double the following consonant in the plural before -en. The plural vowel is then pronounced as long:
- Examples: bad - baden (bath(s)), dag - dagen (day(s)), spel - spelen (game(s)), glas - glazen (glass(es)), weg - wegen (road(s)).
A few neuter nouns take the ending -eren (or -deren if the noun ends in -n):
- Examples: blad - bladeren (leaf (leaves)), kind - kinderen (child(ren)), ei - eieren (egg(s)), been - beenderen (bone(s)).
Nouns ending in -heid have a plural in -heden:
- Example: mogelijkheid - mogelijkheden (possibility (possibilities)).
Some other common irregular plurals are:
- Examples: stad - steden (town(s)), schip - schepen (ship(s)), lid - leden (member(s)), koe - koeien (cow(s)).
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So, you need to remember:
Most nouns take the suffix -en to form their plurals, with a few spelling changes depending on the vowel in the stem.
Nouns ending in -el, -em, -en, and -er (and -aar(d), -erd, -ier when referring to people), foreign words, and most nouns ending in an unstressed vowel take the suffix -s to form their plurals.
Some nouns have irregular plural forms that must be memorized separately, such as those that take the suffix -eren or -deren, or those that change vowels in the plural.