- 1.What is a noun in German?
- 2.Masculine, feminine or neuter nouns in German?
- 3.Plural form of German nouns
- 4.German declension of nouns (N-declension)
- 4.1.Table of declension of the four cases
- 4.2.N-declension in German
- 5.Diminutive in German
- 6.Compound nouns in German
- 7.Adjectives and verbs as nouns (substantivized adjectives and verbs)
- 7.1.Substantivized adjectives
- 7.2.Substantivized infinitives
- 7.3.Substantivized past and present participle
What is a noun in German?
In general, nouns are describing creatures, plants, terms and similar things. Hauptwort or Substantiv are other words, for describing a noun in the German language. Nouns come along with their articles, definite and indefinite articles, in most of the time. Additionally, nouns belong to the declinable part of speech.
Keep in mind: German nouns are always written with a capital letter.
Masculine, feminine or neuter nouns in German?
Here you can find some examples for masculine, feminine and neuter nouns.
|Articles||der / ein||die / eine||das / ein|
Plural form of German nouns
What is the plural of Auge (eye) ? Augen or Auges ? There are several rules in order to guide you on plural froms of German nouns.
German nouns in the plural are preceded by the definite article die, or by no article because in German there is no indefinite article in plural.
There are five types of transformation from the singular to the plural. Have a look into this table below.
|Transformation in Plural||Example|
German declension of nouns (N-declension)
The four cases in German are:
Table of declension of the four cases
|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 Germal plural.
N-declension in German
Weak and mixed masculine nouns follow a special declension: the N-declension.
They always take the suffix -n/-en in all cases, except in the nominative singular. The mixed masculine names always take the suffix -n/-en in all cases(except nominative singular), but in addition the suffix -s in genitive singular is added.
Masculine nouns with the following endings are following the N-declension
Here you can find some examples in sentences.
|Noun in nominative||Example|
|der Junge - boy||Ich frage den Jungen, ob er Hunger hat. - I ask the boy, if he is hungry.|
|der Stundent - student||Das Buch des Studenten liegt auf dem Boden. - The book of the student is on the floor.|
|der Tourist - tourist||Wir geben dem Touristen die Information. - Wir geben dem Touristen die Information.|
Diminutive in German
What does Frau have to do with Mädchen? What is the difference between Haus and Häuslein?
A diminutive is a transformed noun, which expresses a smaller, cuter or younger of the noun. The nouns are transformed by the suffixes -lein or -chen. The diminutive is an informal way of expression. Learn something about the Diminutive in German on our Grammar pages.
Here you can find some examples.
- das Haus (house) - das Häuslein (cutehouse)
- die Maus (mouse) - das Mäuschen (little mouse)
- die Dose (can) - das Döschen (little can)
Compound nouns in German
What happens when two nouns are compounded? Is the gender changing?
It's quite common in German to form nouns by joining several already existing words (nouns, adjectives, verbs, prepositions). Find out more about it by looking at our Grammar pages for Compound nouns in German.
- der Hausschlüssel (das Haus + der Schlüssel) - latchkey
- die Weinflasche (der Wein + die Flasche) - wine bottle
- der Rotkohl (rot + der Kohl) - red cabbage
- die Lesebrille (lesen + die Brille) - reading glasses
- der Vorort (vor + der Ort) - suburb
Sometimes the compound nouns are formed by connecting them with -s or -es or with the plural of the first noun.
Here you can see some examples:
- die Mitgliedskarte (das Mitglied + die Karte) - membership card
- der Geburtstag (die Geburt + der Tag) - birthday
- das Tagebuch (die Tage + das Buch) - diary
- der Sonnenstrahl (die Sonnen + der Strahl) - ray of sunlight
Keep in mind: The last word always determines the gender, the number and the case of the compound noun. It is also the only one to decline depending on the case.
Adjectives and verbs as nouns (substantivized adjectives and verbs)
It is possible to form nouns from verbs or adjectives. Just add a capital letter and an article. These type of nouns are called substantivized adjectives and verbs.
Substantivized adjectives are nouns formed from adjectives, without their prefix or suffix. All German adjectives can be used as nouns.
Here are some examples:
- das Große - (the) big
- die Schöne - (the) beautiful
- der Rote - (the) red
The substantivized infinitive is formed from the infinitive of a verb. They take a capital letter. The substantivized infinitive describes an action, the act of doing something.
Substantivized infinitves are always neuter.
Here are some examples:
- laufen - das Laufen - (the) walking
- schreiben - das Schreiben - (the) writing
- essen - das Essen - (the) eating, food
Substantivized past and present participle
You can form a noun out of the present or past participle of a verb.
Here are some examples:
- reisend - der Reisende - traveller
- schlafend - der Schlafende - sleeper
- gekauft - das Gekaufte - (the) bought
- gegeben - das Gegeben - (the) given
This lesson is closely related to the lesson of German articles.
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