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Plural in German


For English speakers, the plural in German is exasperating. We are happy to just add a simple "–s". In German it’s much more complicated. Get into fighting mode; we think you’ll need to. Here’s our explanation:

Summary of the most common plurals

Because this subject is pretty complicated, we’ve made a small table with the most common suffixes for making the plural depending on the gender:

Masculine Feminine Neuter
Common [-e]
[¨-e]
[ - ]
[-en]
[-n]
[-nen]
[-e]
[ - ]
Less
common
[-en]
[-n]
[ ¨ ]
[¨-e] [-er]
[ ¨ -er]
Adopted
foreign words
[-s]

No plural

Some nouns do not have a plural form in German:

  • Names of countries, rivers, cities:

    ExampleMeaning
    die TürkeiTurkey
    die Wolgathe Volga
    MünchenMunich


  • Abstract concepts:

    ExampleMeaning
    die Zweisprachigkeitbilingualism
    die Abgespanntheitexhaustion
    die Zuvorkommenheitcourtesy
    die Wutrage

General rules that are applicable to all genders

Constructing the plural with "-s"

Just like in English it’s normal to construct the plural with the ending "–s". In German, however, only a few adopted foreign words have this plural.

NounPluralMeaning
die Kamara die Kamarascamera
der Gorilla die Gorillasgorilla
das Auto die Autoscar

The plural for feminine nouns

The construction of the plural for feminine nouns is the easiest in German:

The possibilities are:

FrequencyPlural
Very common Adding "-en"
Adding "-n"
CommonAdding "-nen"
RareAdding [Umlaut] + "-e"
"-nis" -> "-nisse"
Very rare Adding [Umlaut] + "–en"
Adding [Umlaut]
"-a" -> "-en"
"-sis" -> "-sen"
"xis" -> "-xien"
"-aus" -> "-äuse"
"-itis" -> "-iden"

Adding "-en"

The large majority of feminine nouns that do not end in "-e" make their plural with "-en":

NounPluralMeaning
die Datei die Dateienfile
die Wohnung die Wohnungenapartment
die Fabrik die Fabrikenfactory

The following endings which guarantee that the noun is feminine should be emphasized: "-ei", "-ung", "-heit", "-keit", "-ion", "-schaft", "-ik", "-eur", "-enz", "-tät", "-itis", "-sis". lamp

Adding "-n"

If a feminine noun ends in "-e", its plural is always constructed with "-n" (Note: Not all nouns ending with "-e" are feminine. For example: der Käse)

NounPluralMeaning
die Lampe die Lampenlamp
die Fantasie die Fantasienfantasy
die Narzisse die Narzissennarcissus

The following endings guarantee that the noun is feminine and their plural is with "-n" : -ie , -ade, -age, -ere, -ine, -isse, -ive, -se,

Adding "-nen"

The feminine nouns that end in "-in" make their plural with "-nen".

NounPluralMeaning
die Chefin die Chefinnenboss

Adding [Umlaut] + "-e"

A few feminine nouns add [Umlaut] + "-e".

NounPluralMeaning
die Kraft die Kräfteforce
die Angst die Ängstefear

Plural: "-a" "-en"

Some words not from German origin ending in "-a" make their plural with "-en"

NounPluralMeaning
die Firma die Firmencompany
die Skala die Skalenscale

Plural: "-sis" "-sen"

Nouns ending in "-sis" construct their plural with "-sen"

NounPluralMeaning
die Analysisdie Analysenanalysis
Galaxia

Plural: "-xis" "-xien"

The plural for nouns ending with "-xis" are constructed with "-xien"

NounPluralMeaning
die Galaxis die Galaxiengalaxy

Plural: "-itis" "-iden"

The feminine nouns ending with "-itis" construct their plural with -den

NounPluralMeaning
die Cellulitis die Cellulitidencellulitis

Plural: "-nis" "-nisse"

Feminine nouns ending in "-nis" construct their plural by adding the ending "-se"

NounPluralMeaning
die Befugnis die Befugnisseauthorization

Plural: "-aus" "-äuse"

Feminine nouns ending with "-aus" add an Umlaut over the "a" and add the ending "e".

Mouse
NounPluralMeaning
die Maus die Mäusemouse

Adding [Umlaut]

There are two feminine nouns that construct their plural with Umlaut: "Mutter" and "Tochter".

NounPluralMeaning
die Mutter die Mütter mother
die Tochter die Töchter daughter

Adding [Umlaut] + "-en"

A plural form that is not very common is the [Umlaut] + "–en" that practically is used only with the word "Werkstatt"

NounPluralMeaning
die Werkstatt die Werkstättenworkshop

Plural for masculine nouns

FrequencyPlural
Common Adding "-e"
Adding [Umlaut] + "-e"
Not adding an ending
RareAdding [Umlaut]
Adding "-n" (N-Deklination)
Adding "-en" (N-Deklination)
"-us" -> "-usse"
Very rare Adding "-en" (no N-Deklination)
Adding "-er"
Adding [Umlaut] + "-er"
Adding "-ten"
Plural "-us" -> "-i"

Adding "-e"

Many masculine nouns form their plural with "-e". The endings that guarantee the use of this plural are: "-ich", "-ig", "-ling", "-är" (only those coming from French) and "-eur".

Alfombra
NounPluralMeaning
der Teppich die Teppichecarpet
der König die Königeking
der Schmetterling die Schmetterlingebutterfly
der Veterinär die Veterinäreveterinarian
der Friseur die Friseurebarber

Adding [Umlaut] + "-e"

Some nouns form the plural with [Umlaut] + "-e". We emphasize the following:

NounPluralMeaning
der Platz die Plätzeseat
der Kuss die Küssekiss
der Hals die Hälseneck
der Arzt die Ärztedoctor
der Fluss die Flüsseriver

Not adding any ending

Many masculine nouns ending with "-er" and "-el" do not add any ending.

NounPluralMeaning
der Schüler die Schüler student
der Würfel die Würfel dice
Estudiante

Adding [Umlaut]

Many masculine nouns ending with "-er" and "-el" add just an Umlaut.

NounPluralMeaning
der Vater die Väter father
der Mantel die Mäntel overcoat

Adding "-n" [according to the N-Deklination]

Many masculine nouns ending with "-e" are declined according the "N-Deklination".

SingularPlural
Nominativeder Kundedie Kunden
Accusativeden Kundendie Kunden
Dativedem Kundenden Kunden
Genitivedes Kundender Kunden

Examples of nouns that follow the "N-Deklination":

NounPluralMeaning
der Namedie Namenname
der Buchstabedie Buchstabenletter

There are many exceptions that do not follow the "N-Deklination" such as:

NounPluralMeaning
der Käsedie Käsecheese
der Seedie Seenlake

Advice: If you have to take a German test, learn the gender and plural of "der Käse" as it’s one of professors’ favorite words.

Adding "-en" [according to the N-Deklination]

Words with a Greek or Latin ending in "-at", "-ant", "-ent" and "–ist" are declined according to the "N-Deklination".

SingularPlural
Nominativeder Pianistdie Pianisten
Accusativeden Pianistendie Pianisten
Dativedem Pianistenden Pianisten
Genitivedes Pianistender Pianisten

Examples of nouns that follow the "N-Deklination":

NounPluralMeaning
der Studentdie Studentenstudent
der Soldatdie Soldatensoldier
der Liferantdie Liferantensupplier
der Violinistdie Violinistenviolinist

Adding "-en" [no "N-Deklination"]

Although it is not very common, there are also nouns that construct the plural with "-en" without "N-Deklination".

NounPluralMeaning
der Staat die Staatenstate
der Doktor die Doktorendoctor

Adding "-er"

Very few masculine nouns construct the plural with "-er". It is a plural construction that is much more common with neuter nouns.

NounPluralMeaning
der Leib die Leiberbody

Adding [Umlaut] + "-er"

A few masculine nouns’ plural form is made with [Umlaut] + "-er".

NounPluralMeaning
der Mann die Männerman
der Gott die GötterGod

Adding "-ten"

One the rarest masculine nouns is constructed with the suffix "-ten"

NounPluralMeaning
der Anbau die Anbautenannex

Plural: "-us" -> "-usse"

Most of the masculine nouns ending with "-us" add "-se", meaning that an extra –s is added.

NounPluralMeaning
der Zirkus die Zirkussecircus
der Bus die Bussebus

Plural: "-us" -> "-i"

There are a few masculine nouns that come from Latin and end with "us", forming the plural with "i"

NounPluralMeaning
der Modus die Modimode
der Ficus die Ficificus

The plural for neuter nouns

FrequencyPlural
Very common Adding "-e"
Common Without an ending added on
Adding "-er"
Adding [Umlaut] + "-er"
Rare"-nis" "-nisse"
Very rareAdding "-ien"
"-um" "-en"
"-um" "-a"
Adding "-en"

Adding "-e"

The most common plural form for neuter nouns is constructed with the ending "-e"

NounPluralMeaning
das Alphabet die Alphabetealphabet
das Protokoll die Protokollerecord

No ending added

Almost all of the neuter nouns ending with "-er" or "-el" or "-en".

NounPluralMeaning
das Leder die Leder leather
das Kabel die Kabel cable
das Abkommen die Abkommen agreement

Adding "-er"

Many neuter nouns construct the plural with "-er".

NounPluralMeaning
das Bild die Bilderpicture
das Lied die Liedersong

Adding [Umlaut] + "-er"

The plural [Umlaut] + "-er" is very common with neuter nouns.

NounPluralMeaning
das Fahrrad die Fahrräderbicycle
das Blatt die Blätterleaf
das Haus die Häuserhome

Adding "-en"

A few neuter nouns add "-en" to construct the plural.

NounPluralMeaning
das Bett die Bettenbed
das Verb die Verbenverb

Adding "-ien"

The plural formed with the suffix "-ien" is not very common.

NounPluralMeaning
das Adverb die Adverbienthe adverb
das Prinzip die Prinzipienthe principle

Plural "-nis" "-nisse"

For nouns ending with "-nis", a suffix, "-se", is added (another –s is added).

NounPluralMeaning
das Ergebnis die Ergebnisseresult
das Geheimnis die Geheimnissesecret

Plural "-um" "-a"

A few nouns originating from Latin ending with "-um" construct their plural with "-a".

NounPluralMeaning
das Antibiotikum die Antibiotikaantibiotic
das Analgetikum die Analgetikaanalgesic

Plural "-um" "-en"

Most nouns originating from Latin ending with "-um" construct their plural with "-en".

NounPluralMeaning
das Aquarium die Aquarienaquarium
das Ministerium die Ministerienministry

Plural "-o" "-en"

Another rare plural form is that of the neuter nouns ending in "-o".

NounPluralMeaning
das Bankkonto die Bankkontenbank account

Practice Exercise

As you have seen, constructing the plural is very complicated. The best way to consolidate your knowledge is by practicing what you’ve learned. In GermanVeryEasy we have made a pretty fun exercise to practice the plural: Plural Exercise



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