Definition and usage of the Dutch plural
The plural noun is used when people want to describe more than one object, person, animal, event, place or idea. The following endings are used for plural nouns in Dutch:
Plural with '-en'
Most nouns get '-en' at the ending to form the plural. The following rule is used to form plural nouns:
noun + en
|Het bord (the plate)||De borden (the plates)||Ik zet de borden in de kast.||I put the plates in the cupboard.|
|De fiets (the bike)||De fietsen (the bikes)||Er staan fietsen op straat.||There are bikes on the street.|
|De dief (the thief)||De dieven (the thieves)||Zij zijn dieven.||They are thieves.|
|De mok (the mug)||De mokken (the mugs)||Wij gaan meer mokken kopen.||We are going to buy more mugs.|
Mind the following rules when forming the plural nouns:
1. Short vowels stay short and long vowels stay long.
Example: kop (mug) - koppen (mugs)
2. In the plural form, the double vowel from the last syllabe disappears.
Example: heer (sir) - heren (sirs)
3. If a singular noun ends in 'f' or 's', these consonants change into 'v' or 'z'.
Example: reus (giant) - reuzen (giants)
Plural with '-s'
Besides in '-en' plural nouns can also end in '-s.
noun + s
Nouns that end in '–el', '-em', '-en', '-er', '-je' mostly end in '-s'. The table below shows some examples:
|Het hondje (the little dog)||De hondjes (the little dogs)||Hij heeft drie hondjes.||He has three little dogs.|
|De kalender (the calendar)||De kalenders (the calendars)||Kijken even naar die kalenders.||Have a look at those calendars.|
|De kogel (the bullet)||De kogels (the bullets)||Hij heeft geen kogels.||He ran out of bullets.|
|Het meisje (the girl)||De meisjes (the girls)||Meisjes letten jullie op?||Girls do you pay attention?|
Plural with apostrophe '-s'
Nouns that end in the single vowels '–a', '-i', '-o', '-u', '-y' get a '-'s' when forming the plural. The apostrophe is added to keep the long single vowel at the end long.
Take a look at the table below to see how the plural with '-'s' is formed:
|De baby (the baby)||De baby's (the babies)||Zij past op drie baby's.||She babysits three babies.|
|De auto (the cars)||De auto's (the cars)||De auto's rijden snel.||The cars drive fast.|
|De pinda (the peanut)||De pinda's (the peanuts)||Ik eet veel pinda's.||I eat a lot of peanuts.|
|De hobby (the hobby)||De hobby's (the hobbies)||Wij hebben veel hobby's.||We have a lot of hobbies.|
Other plural forms of Dutch nouns
Nouns that end in '-heid' in the single form, end in '– heden' in the plural.
- De beroemdheid (the celebrity) - de beroemdheden (the celebrities)
- De gruwelijkheid (the horror) - de gruwelijkheden (the horrors)
- De minderheid (the minority) - de minderheden (the minorities)
Some plural nouns end in –eren.
- Het lied (the song) – de liederen (the songs)
- Het ei (the egg) - de eieren (the eggs)
- Het blad (the leaf) - de bladeren (the leafs)
Nouns that end in the Latin suffix '–um', get an ending in '-a' in the plural.
- Het podium (the stage) - de podia (the stages)
- Het centrum (the centre) – de centra (the centres)
- Het museum (the museum) - de musea (the museums)
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