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Learn about plural forms

Plural forms

German is a language that is well known for its complex grammar, particularly when it comes to forming plurals. While there are some general rules for creating plural nouns in German, there are also numerous exceptions that make it challenging for non-native speakers to learn. In this lesson, we will explore the different forms of German plural nouns and the rules that govern their formation.

One of the most common ways to form plural nouns in German is by adding -n or -en to the end of the singular noun. For example, "Haus" (house) becomes "Häuser" (houses), and "Kuh" (cow) becomes "Kühe" (cows). This rule applies to many nouns, particularly those that end in -e, -el, -en, -er, -chen, or -lein.

Another way to form plurals in German is by adding -e to the end of the singular noun. This is typically done with feminine nouns, such as "Katze" (cat) becoming "Katzen" (cats), or with some masculine nouns, such as "Hase" (rabbit) becoming "Hasen" (rabbits).

Some masculine and neuter nouns also form their plurals by adding -er to the end of the singular noun. For example, "Mann" (man) becomes "Männer" (men), and "Kind" (child) becomes "Kinder" (children).

So, remember:

To determine which plural ending to use for specific noun endings, follow these rules:

  • Masculine and neuter nouns ending in -er, -en, -el, -chen, or -lein usually have the same form for both singular and plural, or they may add an umlaut. Examples include:
    • der Apfel > die Äpfel - the apples
    • das Brötchen > die Brötchen - the bread rolls
    • der Wagen > die Wagen - the cars
  • All feminine nouns ending in -ei, -heit, -keit, -schaft, or -ung have the plural suffix -en. Examples include:
    • die Bäckerei > die Bäckereien - the bakeries
    • die Freundschaft > die Freundschaften - the friendships
    • die Krankheit > die Krankheiten - the illnesses
    • die Wohnung > die Wohnungen - the apartments
  • Feminine nouns ending in -in add -nen in the plural form, without an umlaut. Examples include:
    • die Freundin > die Freundinnen - the girlfriends
    • die Lehrerin > die Lehrerinnen - the teachers
  • Nearly all masculine and feminine nouns ending in -e and some neuter nouns ending in -e add -n in the plural form. Examples include:
    • das Auge > die Augen - the eyes
    • die Blume > die Blumen - the flowers
    • der Name > die Namen - the names
  • Nouns derived from English, French, and Dutch, abbreviations used as nouns, and names of people usually add the -s plural suffix. Examples include:
    • das Menü > die Menüs - the menus
    • der Park > die Parks - the parks
    • die DVD > die DVDs - the DVDs
    • die CD > die CDs - the CDs
    • der PKW > die PKWs - the cars
    • der Müller > die Müllers - the Müllers
    • der Schmidt > die Schmidts - the Schmidts