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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] [-er]
[ ¨ -er]
foreign words

No plural

Some nouns do not have a plural form in German:

  • Names of countries, rivers, cities:

    die TürkeiTurkey
    die Wolgathe Volga

  • Abstract concepts:

    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.

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:

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":

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)

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".

die Chefin die Chefinnenboss

Adding [Umlaut] + "-e"

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

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"

die Firma die Firmencompany
die Skala die Skalenscale

Plural: "-sis" "-sen"

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

die Analysisdie Analysenanalysis

Plural: "-xis" "-xien"

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

die Galaxis die Galaxiengalaxy

Plural: "-itis" "-iden"

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

die Cellulitis die Cellulitidencellulitis

Plural: "-nis" "-nisse"

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

die Befugnis die Befugnisseauthorization

Plural: "-aus" "-äuse"

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

die Maus die Mäusemouse

Adding [Umlaut]

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

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"

die Werkstatt die Werkstättenworkshop

Plural for masculine nouns

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".

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:

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.

der Schüler die Schüler student
der Würfel die Würfel dice

Adding [Umlaut]

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

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".

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

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

der Namedie Namenname
der Buchstabedie Buchstabenletter

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

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".

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

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

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".

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.

der Leib die Leiberbody

Adding [Umlaut] + "-er"

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

der Mann die Männerman
der Gott die GötterGod

Adding "-ten"

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

der Anbau die Anbautenannex

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

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

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"

der Modus die Modimode
der Ficus die Ficificus

The plural for neuter nouns

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"

das Alphabet die Alphabetealphabet
das Protokoll die Protokollerecord

No ending added

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

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".

das Bild die Bilderpicture
das Lied die Liedersong

Adding [Umlaut] + "-er"

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

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

Adding "-en"

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

das Bett die Bettenbed
das Verb die Verbenverb

Adding "-ien"

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

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).

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".

das Antibiotikum die Antibiotikaantibiotic
das Analgetikum die Analgetikaanalgesic

Plural "-um" "-en"

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

das Aquarium die Aquarienaquarium
das Ministerium die Ministerienministry

Plural "-o" "-en"

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

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