German declension (N-declension)
What kind of declension does exist in German?
In German there exists 4 cases of declension:
|Function||Question||What kind of verbs do use the case?||What kind of prepositions do use this case?|
Summary table of the declension in the four cases
Here you can find a summary of the declension of the four cases in German according to the number and gender with the definite and indefinite article.
|Nominative||der/ ein Hund||die/ eine Katze||das/ ein Pferd||die Mäuse|
|Genitive||des/ eines Hundes||der/ einer Katze||des/ eines Pferdes||der Mäuse|
|Dative||dem/ einem Hund||der/ einer Katze||dem/ einem Pferd||den Mäusen|
|Accusative||den/ einen Hund||die/ eine Katze||das/ ein Pferd||
- der Hund - dog
- die Katze - cat
- das Pferd - horse
- die Mäuse - mice
Remember: there is no indefinite article in the German plural.
Nouns that take an -n/-en as an ending in every case (except in nominative plural) are declined according to the N-declension.
Nouns that follow the N-declension are weak and mixed masculine nouns.
Weak masculine nouns
This table shows all the endings that help you to identify the weak masculine nouns that follow the N-declension. They take the suffix -n/-en in all cases (except the singular nominative) and never take the -s in genitive singular.
|-and||der Doktorand - postgraduate||Das Thesis des Doktoranden ist sehr lang. - The PhD's thesis is very long.|
der Praktikant - intern
der Elefant - elephant
|Der Chef erklärt dem Praktikanten seinen Job. - The boss explains his job to the trainee.|
der Automat - automatic
der Soldat - soldier
|Ich gehe zum Automaten, um die Fahrkarte zu bezahlen. - I go to the automatic to pay for the ticket.|
|-ad||der Kamerad - mate||Die Mutter meines Kameraden kommt aus Polen. - The mother of my mate is from Poland.|
der Student - student
der Assistent - assistant
|Das Buch des Studenten liegt auf dem Boden. - The book of the student is on the floor.|
|-ist||der Tourist - tourist||Wir geben dem Touristen eine Landkarte. - We give the tourist a map.|
|-af||der Fotograf - photographer||Die Bilder des Fotografen sind sehr schön. - The pictures of the photografer are very nice.|
der Gynäkologe - gynecologist
der Biologe - biologist
|Ich werde vom Gynäkologen untersucht. - I am examined by the gynecologist.|
|-soph||der Philosoph - philosopher||Frag den Philosophen über die Theorie von Kant. - Ask the philosophers about the theory of Kant.|
|-urg||der Chirurg - surgeon||Die Operation wird von dem Chirurgen durchegführt. - The operation is accomplished by the surgeon.|
|Nouns of foreign origin||
der Pilot - pilot
der Architekt - architect
der Favorit - favourite
|Das Flugzeug gehört nicht dem Piloten. - The plane does not belong to the pilot.|
Of course there always exception to these rules. Here are some of the nouns that are also declined according to the N-declension, but have different endings:
- der Held - hero
- der Bär - bear
- der Mensch - human
- der Prinz - prince
- der Nachbar - neighbor
- der Herr - sir/Lord
- Der Hund des Herrn ist ein Labrador. - The dog of the Lord is a labrador.
- Ich fahre mit meinem Nachbarn in die Stadt. - I'm going to town with my neighbor.
- Die Frau des Prinzen ist die Prinzessin. - The wife of the prince is the princess.
- Als ich am Nordpol war, habe ich einen weißen Bären gesehen. - When I was at the north pole, I saw a white bear.
Mixed masculine nouns (-s in genitive singular)
Mixed masculine nouns also follow the N-declension. They take the suffix -n/-en in every four cases (except nominative singular), but also a -s in genitive singular.
Here are some mixed masculine nouns, that follow this rule.
- der Buchstabe - the letter (alphabet)
- der Name - name
- der Wille - will
- der Friede - peace
- der Gedanke - thought
- del Glaube - faith
- der Samen - seed
- der Funke - spark
- Ich habe deinen Namen vergessen. - I have forgotten your name.
- Der Vokal des Namens ist ein E. - The vowel of the name is an E.
- Das Symbol des Friedens ist eine weiße Taube. - The symbol of peace is a white pigeon.
- Wir hoffen auf den Frieden. - We hope for peace.
Be careful: das Herz is neuter, but behaves like a masculine mixed noun.
Now you can practise these rules by doing our exercises. If you still have doubts, you should study case by case. Find links to the German cases at the top of this page.
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