German Plural Nouns

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In English, it's simple: just add an -s or -es to form the plural of a noun. In German, however, it is a little more complex. Not only do you have to deal with changing everything that precedes a noun when you pluralize it, but now you are faced with at least five choices to change the noun into! But do not despair, you can either a) memorize the plural of a noun or b) follow the guidelines for the five main groups of plural formation, which we have listed below. We suggest you do both. In time and with a little practice, you'll be able to get the natural "feel" for noun plural formation.

The Different Plural Nouns

The main groups of plural noun formation are as follows:

Plural Nouns With -E Endings:

  • Most German nouns that consist of one syllable will add -e to form plurals in all grammatical cases. EXCEPTION: in the dative -en is used. Some nouns will also have umlaut changes.

Plural Nouns With -ER Endings:

  • Nouns in this group add –er when plural (-ern in the dative case) and are always either masculine or neuter. There may be some umlaut changes.

Plural Nouns With -N/EN Endings:

  • These nouns add either –n or –en to form the plural in all four cases. They are mostly feminine and have no umlaut changes.

Plural Nouns With -S Endings:

  • Similar to English, these nouns add an –s in plural form. They are mostly of foreign origin and have therefore no umlaut changes.

Plural Nouns With No End Changes:

  • Nouns in this group do not change their word endings in the plural, except for in the dative case where -n is added. There might be some umlaut changes. Most nouns in this group are either neuter or masculine and usually contain one of the following endings: -chen, -lein, -el, -en or -er.
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Your Citation
Bauer, Ingrid. "German Plural Nouns." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Bauer, Ingrid. (2023, April 5). German Plural Nouns. Retrieved from Bauer, Ingrid. "German Plural Nouns." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).