Learn To Use German Plural Nouns With Confidence! 

Watch the video here about German plural nouns and click here to watch the five rules for German plurals.

I'm sure you have noticed how much fun the German language is. There are funny letters, and the nouns have different gender identities that don't follow any clear pattern. Now, things are about to get even more interesting, because we're going to learn about German plurals.

Before we start, there are two secrets I'm going to share with you: 

1) You always use the same article "die" for the plural nouns, for example:

  • der Apfel (the apple) --> die Äpfel (the apples)
  • der Wurm (the worm) --> die Würmer (the worms)


2) There is almost no pattern on how to build the plural.

But there’s no need to worry, we have solutions! One good habit that can help with this is to learn the plural form whenever you learn a new noun. This can make it much easier to remember plural forms.  

But what about when you don't know or can't remember? Are you ready? Los geht's!


German Plurals And Gender

In the Nominative case the plural forms share the article "die" with the feminine nouns. The plural article is the same for all the three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. For example: 

  • der Löffel (the spoon) - die Löffel (the spoons)
  • die Gabel (the fork) - die Gabeln (the forks)
  • das Messer (the knife) - die Messer (the knives)

Easy start, but how does the ending of the noun change when it’s plural? 


The Plural Forms Of Masculine Nouns

German plurals for one man or several men

The Most Common Rule For Masculine Nouns

There are a huge number of masculine nouns (and also many neutral nouns) ending in “-e” in the plural form (about 90%).

Here are some examples: 

  • der Tisch (the table)  die Tische (the tables)
  • der Tag (the day)die Tage (the days)
  • der Stein (the stone)  die Steine (the stones)

Many masculine nouns will also add the umlaut (remember, the letters with the little eyes on top, such as ä, ö, ü) in the plural form. 

Examples for these nouns are: 

  • der Stuhl (the chair)die Stühle (the chairs)
  • der Ball (the ball) die Bälle (the balls)
  • der Fall (the case) die Fälle (the cases)


Masculine Nouns Ending In -e, -ent, -ist, -on

Almost all the nouns with these endings will have the ending -n/-en in their plural form:

Here are some examples:

  • der Junge (the boy) → die Jungen (the boys)
  • der Deutsche (the German) die Deutschen (the Germans)
  • der Biologe (the biologist) die Biologen (the biologists)


As you see, in the word “Junge” you already have the ending “-e in the singular, so it is not necessary to add the “-e” part of the "-en".

Examples, where you add the “-en”:

  • der Tourist (the tourist) die Touristen (the tourists)
  • der Student (the student) die Studenten (the students)
  • der Jurist (the lawyer)  die Juristen (the lawyers)


Masculine Nouns Ending In -el, -en, -er

Some masculine nouns (and neutral nouns) are lazy and don't like change. That means the plural will have the same ending as the singular. 

Here’s an example:

  • der Lehrer (the teacher)  die Lehrer (the teachers)
  • der Bäcker (the baker)  die Bäcker (the bakers)

Of course, a few also decided to put in the bare minimum of effort, so their plural forms get an umlaut:

  • der Apfel (the apple)die Äpfel (the apples)

Sneaky Exceptions

There are about a dozen masculine nouns where you apply the ending “-er” in the plural form and also an umlaut if possible. 

Examples:

  • der Mann (the man) die Männer (the men)
  • der Geist (the ghosts) die Geister (the ghosts)
  • der Wurm (the worm) → die Würmer (the worms)


The Plural Forms Of Feminine Nouns

As we already learned at the beginning, the article for all plural nouns, regardless of the gender, is always “die.” For feminine nouns, that means the articles don't change!

The Most Common Rule For Feminine Nouns

Like with masculine nouns, many feminine nouns have a plural form that you can reliably guess. For example, the many feminine nouns ending with -e (die Orange, die Tasche etc). can usually be made plural by just adding an -n:

  • die Orange (the orange)die Orangen (the oranges)
  • die Tasche (the bag, the pocket)  die Taschen (the bags, the pockets)


Be careful though, when it comes to feminine nouns that describe professions. You can recognize them by the ending “-in” In this case, you will have to use the ending -nen

It's mostly just an issue of spelling, let me show you what I mean:

  • die Lehrerin (the teacher)die Lehrerinnen (the teachers)
  • die Pilotin (the pilot)die Pilotinnen (the pilots)
  • die Verkäuferin (the cashier/the salesperson) → die Verkäuferinnen (the cashiers/the salespeople)


Sneaky Exceptions

There are some nouns that will end with an -e and an umlaut in the plural form. Very often these nouns also consist of only one syllable.

  • die Maus (the mouse) die Mäuse (the mice)
  • die Hand (the hand) die Hände (the hands)
  • der Baum (the tree) → die Bäume (the trees)


And last but not least, there are exactly two feminine nouns that stay the same in the plural and only add the umlaut.

  • die Mutter (the mother) die Mütter (the mothers)
  • die Tochter (the daughter) die Töchter (the daughters)


Okay, let’s all take a nice deep breath and move on to the final stretch, we’re almost finished.

The Plural Forms Of Neutral Nouns

Ok, let’s move on to the third, the “genderless” category. Do you remember the article for singular neutral nouns?

That's right, it's “das” And of course, “das” also becomes “die” in the plural form.

The Most Common Rule For Neuter Nouns

Like the masculine nouns, most of the neutral nouns (about 75%) end with -e in the plural form:  

  • das Bein (the leg) die Beine (the legs)
  • das Jahr (the year) die Jahre (the years)
  • das Haar (the hair) die Haare (the hairs)


Sneaky Exceptions

There are some neutral nouns that have the ending -er in the plural form and the umlaut when needed. 

Examples:

  • das Kind (the child) die Kinder (the children)
  • das Buch (the book)  die Bücher (the books)
  • das Fach (the subject)  die Fächer (the subjects)


Neutral Nouns In Diminutive Form -chen and -lein 

Remember the cute diminutive form in German? Thankfully, you don't need to memorize a plural form here, because the noun stays the same. You’ve got to love creatures of comfort:

  • das Mädchen (the girl) die Mädchen (the girls)
  • das Kindlein (the child) die Kindlein (the children)
  • das Kätzchen (the kitten)  die Kätzchen (the kittens)


Other German Plural Forms 

Alright, let’s just have a look at a few more endings and examples before we call it a day. 

Many nouns that come from other languages like English or French, add the ending -s in the plural form. Also, words ending in -a, -i, -o, -u, -y AND abbreviated nouns belong to this category.

  • das Auto (car) die Autos (cars)
  • der Park (park) die Parks (parks)
  • die DVD (dvd) die DVDs (dvds)


Words Ending in -a, -um, -us, -os, -is

Nouns with these endings mostly derive from Latin and have plural forms that end in -en.

  • das Thema (the topic) die Themen (the topics)
  • das Museum (the museum) die Museen (the museums)
  • der Globus (the globe) → die Globen (the globes)

 

Find German Plurals In The Dictionary 

If you are not sure about the plural form and you want to double check with the help of a dictionary, you can easily find the plural on the right hand side of the singular noun.

Like in this example here: die Zeitung (singular), die Zeitungen (plural, abbreviated by pl.):

how to find German plural forms in the dictionary


Summary

Congratulations for making it to the end of this chapter on German plural nouns! You should be proud of yourself for making it this far. Just remember, nobody expects you to know all the plural forms right from the get-go. It’s okay to look things up, to make mistakes and to feel a bit overwhelmed sometimes.

It takes time to memorize and practice what you’ve just learned. And as I mentioned at the beginning, try to learn both the singular and plural forms when learning a new word

Are you ready for some exercises? Test your understanding!

Exercises: German Plurals

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