Learn it right: learn the gender AND the plural form of nouns in German

When you start learning German, you figure out very soon that you need to learn every new German noun with its gender AND plural form.

  • der Apfel (apple) die Äpfel (apples)
  • der Freund (friend) die Freunde (friends)
  • die Frau (woman) die Frauen (women)
  • das Haus (house)die Häuser (houses)
  • das Auto (car) die Autos (cars)

Äpfel, Freunde, Frauen, Häuser, Autos are plural forms of some nouns in German and they can look overwhelming at first sight.

Are there any rules for building German plurals? Of course!

It might look like there are ENDLESS many ways to build plurals in German, as in the above examples, and that you’ll spend your life learning plurals of German nouns by heart.

Oh, we can hear you saying: “I don’t want to spend my life learning the plural of German nouns by heart!” 🙂 Sooner or later, you will ask yourself: HOW do I build the plural in German? Are there any RULES?

The answer is YES. This article will show you that all those endings can be broken down into just 5 scenarios. Sounds good? Oh, yes, it does!

5 life-saving scenarios for building plural of nouns in German:

These scenarios are practical tendencies and are not 100%-rules because every rule has some exceptions.

1) First scenario: no ending in plural (/)

The rule is simple:

Masculine and neuter nouns that end with -er, -el, -en, -chen or -lein don’t get any ending in plural. If they have a vowel in the middle (a, o, u), it can get Umlaut (a becomes ä, o → ö and u → ü). For example:

  • das Messer (knife) die Messer (knives)
  • der Apfel (apple) die Äpfel (apples)
  • das Mädchen (girl) die Mädchen (girls)

2) Second scenario: ending -(e)n in plural

Nouns that end with -e usually get the ending -n in plural. Here are some examples:

  • der Junge (boy)die Jungen (boys)
  • die Tasche (bag)die Taschen (bags)

Most of feminine nouns in German (and when we say “most of them”, it means 90 % of them) get the ending -n or -en in plural. Take these examples:

  • die Frau (woman) die Frauen (women)
  • die Banane (banana) die Bananen (bananas)
  • die Freundschaft (friendship) die Freundschaften (friendships)
  • die Nation (nation) die Nationen (nations)

3) Third scenario: ending -e in plural

Most masculine (90 % of them!!) and most neuter nouns (up to 75 %) in German end with the ending -e in plural (with Umlaut when it’s possible - you remember: a->ä, o->ö and u->ü). For example:

  • der Freund (friend) die Freunde (friends)
  • der Ball (ball) die Bälle (balls)
  • der Tisch (table) die Tische (tables)
  • der Stuhl (chair) die Stühle (chairs)
  • das Bein (leg) die Beine (legs)
  • das Jahr (year) die Jahre (years)

Some feminine nouns (often nouns with just one syllable) also form the plural with -e and Umlaut. Here are some examples:

  • die Hand (hand) die Hände (hands)
  • die Stadt (city) die Städte (cities)
  • die Maus (mouse) die Mäuse (mice)

4) Fourth scenario: ending -er in plural

This scenario applies mostly to neuter nouns, but also to some masculine nouns (with Umlaut when it’s possible). For example:

  • das Kind (child) die Kinder (children)
  • das Buch (book) die Bücher (books)
  • das Haus (house) die Häuser (houses)
  • der Mann (man) die Männer (men)

5) Fifth scenario: ending -s in Plural

Nouns that end with a, o, u, y, abbreviations as well as loanwords from the English language form their plural often with -s. Take these examples:

  • die Party die Partys
  • das Auto die Autos
  • die Kamera die Kameras
  • die DVD die DVDs
  • der LKW (truck) die LKWs (trucks)
  • die Kiwi die Kiwis

Those were the main tendencies and rules for learning the plural of nouns in German. We hope you liked it! If you can't get enough of the German plural, or you just want more information about it, check out our other post about it here!

Loved this? Spread the word

Subscribe to my Newsletter & Get your FREE German Essential Kit including:

  • The 12 most common German mistakes and how to avoid them (+ with sample sentences)
  • A list of the 30 most important dative verbs you must know!
  • A list of the most important German irregular verbs and an easy explanation of the past tenses
  • The picture of "Anja's house" with all the verbs that use "sein" in the perfect tense (high quality to print!)
  • When you sign up, you will become part of our worldwide community of German learners and receive the best tips and tricks for learning German!

PS: Don’t worry, I hate spam too! You can unsubscribe at anytime.

Related posts

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}