Regular declension, n-declension and exceptions
There are three genders for nouns in German: Masculine (männlich), feminine (weiblich) and neuter (sächlich).
One important thing as we get started: All nouns are written with the first letter capitalized.
"the house" is written as "das Haus".
There are three genders in German: masculine (männlich), feminine (weiblich) and neuter (sächlich). Usually, the gender of a noun is determined by its ending.
The articles der, die and das are used with nouns to indicate their gender:
der Mann (the man) [Masculine Noun]
die Frau (the woman) [Feminine Noun]
das Kind (the child) [Neuter Noun]
It's not easy to know which gender a noun is. There are a few rules for masculine, feminine and neuter nouns. However, usually there is no choice but to learn each word's gender.
A noun in English, "house" for example, does not change even if we change the role it plays in a phrase.
The house is pretty ("house" is the subject in this case)
We bought a house ("a house" is the direct object).
As you see, the word house is not declined. You just add "s" in English to make the plural. It's very simple.
Unfortunately, it is not always like this in German. This might cause you a bit of despair when you start learning German. For example, in the phrase, "Erkrankungen des Herzens", the word "Herzens" (heart in genitive form) does not appear in the dictionary. That is because it is declined and, instead of that word, you have to look for "Herz" (heart in nominative form).
It is a bit complicated but don't worry about it. you will get it.
As a general rule, an "-n" or an "-en" are added to all nouns in the dative plural. If the noun in the plural ends with "-n" or "-s," nothing will be added.
An "-s" or an "-es" is added in the genitive singular. Sometimes both options are ok. In general, if a word ends with “-e”, an “-s” is added in the genitive and if it ends with “-s” or “-z” and “-es” is added.
Example for a neuter noun:
|Nominative||das Gas||die Gase|
|Accusative||das Gas||die Gase|
|Dative||dem Gas |
also: dem Gase
|Genitive||des Gases||der Gase|
Although it is not very common today, sometimes an "-e" is added to the dative singular. Nowadays, you can see this is some phrases:
Ich gehe nach Hause
I am going home
Hause is the old declension in the dative singular for das Haus (house).
Dem deutschen Volke
For the German people
Volke is the classic declension of Volk (people) in the dative singular.
Feminine nouns do not change in the genitive singular.
|Nominative||die Kraft||die Kräfte|
|Accusative||die Kraft||die Kräfte|
|Dative||der Kraft||den Kräften|
|Genitive||der Kraft||der Kräfte|
Interestingly, a large portion of feminine plural nouns end with "-n," meaning that luckily the majority of feminine plural nouns do not change.
|Nominative||die Lampe||die Lampen|
|Accusative||die Lampe||die Lampen|
|Dative||der Lampe||den Lampen|
|Genitive||der Lampe||der Lampen|
Some masculine nouns and a few neuter ones have a declension that is different from the usual one and it is called the "N-Deklination" (N-Declension).
|Nominative||der Kunde||die Kunden|
|Accusative||den Kunden||die Kunden|
|Dative||dem Kunden||den Kunden|
|Genitive||des Kunden||der Kunden|
If we look closely at all of the forms except for the nominative singular, they have an "-n" ending. This is why it is called "N-Deklination".
Sometimes, an "-en" is added instead of adding an "-n". For example, the noun "Mensch".
-at as in der Soldat, der Advokat, der Diplomat.
-ant as in der Elefant, der Diamant, der Lieferant.
-ent as in der Student.
-ist as in der Journalist, der Zivilist, der Violinist, der Polizist.
Sometimes, the genitive is formed with "-ns" instead of "-n".
|Nominative||der Name||die Namen|
|Accusative||den Namen||die Namen|
|Dative||dem Namen||den Namen|
|Genitive||des Namens||der Namen|
Examples of nouns with genitive "-ns": der Friede, der Name, der Funke, der Gedanke, der Glaube, der Same, der Wille, der Buchstabe.
Some nouns that end with "-s" have another "-s" added in the declension.
|Nominative||der Bus||die Busse|
|Accusative||den Bus||die Busse|
|Dative||dem Bus||den Bussen|
|Genitive||des Busses||der Busse|
A short reminder about pronunciation: The "ss" indicates that the preceding vowel is shortened.
"Herz" has an irregular declension. It is also one of the few neuter nouns with the "-n" declension.
|Nominative||das Herz||die Herzen|
|Accusative||das Herz||die Herzen|
|Dative||dem Herzen||den Herzen|
|Genitive||des Herzens||der Herzen|
We'll finish this article with the ballad "Das Beste" from the German group "Silbermond." It's a very nice song.
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