Complete tables of German noun declension - inflection of the noun: all forms of each case, number, gender through the main determiner der, die das

noun declension - inflection of the noun: all forms of each case, number, gender through the main determiner der, die das

Learn German right here online, quick, easy and direct - how to decline ALL German noun types

Let's first start out slowly looking at the usage of the articles in general.

The most important determiner (der Artikel) in German is the determiner der, die, das.

der die das
masculine feminine neuter

Another word for determiner is "article". This article is called the definite article. In this context we have to mention that the indefinite article is the complementary article.

ein eine ein
masculine feminine neuter

And as we said, every German noun can be attributed only one single gender. Der Mann for example is masculine (the man), so it can be also ein Mann, but never eine Mann which article is for feminine nouns. Frau is feminine, so it has to be die Frau or eine Frau (the woman), Kind is neuter gender, that becomes das Kind or ein Kind (the child). The usage of these articles is basically the same in both English and German, but with slight differences. Abstract nouns for example used in a totally abstract sense like die Zeit (time), die Liebe (love), der Tod (death), das Leben (life) etc. don't conform with an article in English, i.e. they are not used with an article, but they do conform with the definite article in German: die Zeit, die Liebe, der Tot, das Leben. For example: Das Leben ist schön. Life is beautiful. I am mentioning this because you will come across this usage of the "definite" article in a semantic context which is not at all definite. What can be more indefinite than life itself? But in this context it is possible to use the definite article in German. When it is used thus, it refers to words in a general, more or less philosophical and highly abstract sense. This type of relationship can be paraphrased in the sense of "the love that we all know" or "the fear that we are all aquainted with". This only serves as a hint as to how the Germans use the definite article sometimes. Generally, though, usage is similar and the definite article will be positioned before definite nouns, which the speaker is familiar with or which the speaker has already mentioned. For example:

In my garden I have an apple tree.
The tree already yields a lot of apples.

In meinem Garten habe ich einen Apfelbaum.
Der Baum trägt schon viele Äpfel.

These sentences show how we use the articles. If something is not definite, i.e. not known (to the one listening), we use "a". If we are talking about something that has already been mentioned we use "the" because then we are somewhat familiar with the object. And for each gender there is one complementing article, either der, die or das (or ein, eine, ein). Which of these three we use depends on the gender of the noun.

The definite article der, die, das denotes a specific object (meaning animate "objects", too), for example: der Lehrer (the teacher). This specific teacher is in a good mood today. He's got a long beard, wears green trousers and drives to school in a yellow old beetle.

The indefinite article ein, eine, ein is used for a single entity representing a class of objects, i.e. the article pertains to the class or the type of object, and not the specific object itself. For this article to be able to be posited before a noun, this noun has to be countable, seen as a single entity of which there are more, like for example the noun der Apfel (the apple). Saying for example, that you want an apple is perfectly fine, because apples are countable. But to say "a sugar" is not possible as sugar is not countable. In this case you can, like in English too, use units of measurement like a packet of, a pound or other indefinite determiners that don't suggest that the object can be counted, like etwas Zucker (some sugar). Be careful with "etwas" which can only be used to refer to nouns denoting an indefinite quantity, whereas "some" (which seems to be the "translation" of etwas) can also be used with single countable units, for example in the phrase some apples.

Let's look at the plural:

Singular Plural
der Lehrer die Lehrer
ein Lehrer ∅ Lehrer

Note that the plural of ein Lehrer is Lehrer.

Let's look at the relationship between class and object.

I. Objekt Klasse
  Singular der Lehrer ein Lehrer
  Plural die Lehrer ∅ Lehrer

Uncountables are very special nouns because they have no plural:

Example: das Öl (the oil)

II. Objekt Klasse
  Singular das Öl ∅ Öl
  Plural - -

Die Deklination der Nomen - inflection of nouns

Some basics of inflectional morphology:

Capable of »inflection« means, that a word changes its form according to its context. (For example schön, schöner, schönen, schönem etc.) Not capable of »inflection« means that words cannot change in appearance (like in, an, auf, etwa, schon, und, weil). In old German the articles didn't play such an important role. New High German adopts the articles as the main method of denoting case when referring to nouns.

I. Capable of »inflection«:

  • Artikel (determiners) like der, ein, dieser, jener
  • Nomen (nouns) like der Tag, der Fisch, der Pilz, der Stern)
  • Adjektive (adjectives) like schön, fein
  • Pronomen (pronouns) like ich, du, er, sie, es
  • Verben (verbs) like lachen, springen, spielen

II. Not capable of »inflection«:

  • Adverbien (adverbs) like gestern, da, dort
  • Präpositionen (prepositions) like in, an, auf, über, unter
  • Konjunktionen (conjunctions) like und, weil
  • Partikel (particles) like nur, schon, etwa, so

To keep in mind:

Einzahl, Latein: Singular

Mehrzahl, Latein: Plural

Geschlecht, Latein: Genus

Zahl, Anzahl, Latein: Numerus, Singular oder Plural

Infinitiv: die Grundform eines Verbs, z.B. »lachen«, the infinitive form

1. Artikelgruppe: der, männlich oder Maskulinum

Plural von Maskulinum: Maskulina

2. Artikelgruppe: die, weiblich oder Femininum

Plural von Femininum: Feminina

3. Artikelgruppe: das, sächlich oder Neutrum

Plural von Neutrum: Neutra

Nouns are substantial, contrary to verbs (words expressing a time relationship and an action) they don't contain any time label, it can be exemplified in the difference between the words »die Ladung« (noun) and »laden« (Verb). Verbs can be transformed to function as nouns by positioning an article before them (for example das Lachen) and they loose the inherent denotation of a certain limited time-span. No time-span is denoted by this noun, in fact it focuses on the auditive stimulus, not on the action.

1.1 Both plural and singular with -en, a handful, but important nouns

Example: der Affe (the monkey)

 der Affe   Nominativ Singular 
 den Affen   Akkusativ Singular 
 dem Affen   Dativ Singular 
 des Affen   Genitiv Singular 
 die Affen   Nominativ Plural 
 die Affen   Akkusativ Plural 
 den Affen   Dativ Plural 
 der Affen   Genitiv Plural 

1.2 Singular unvarying, Plural with -en, most feminine nouns

Beispiel (example): die Frau

 die Frau  Nominativ Singular 
 die Frau  Akkusativ Singular 
 der Frau  Dativ Singular 
 der Frau  Genitiv Singular 
 die Frauen  Nominativ Plural 
 die Frauen  Akkusativ Plural 
 den Frauen  Dativ Plural 
 der Frauen  Genitiv Plural 

1.3 im Singular mit Genitiv-s, im Plural -en, a handful, but important nouns

Beispiel: der See (the lake)

 der See  Nominativ Singular 
 den See  Akkusativ Singular 
 dem See  Dativ Singular 
 des Sees  Genitiv Singular 
 die Seen  Nominativ Plural 
 die Seen  Akkusativ Plural 
 den Seen  Dativ Plural 
 der Seen  Genitiv Plural 

More on 1.3:

Maskulina: der See, der Dorn, der Bauer, der Mast, der Stachel, der Schmerz

Neutra: das Leid, das Hemd, das Bett, das Auge, das Ohr, das Herz

After -el, -er the e is dropped: die Insel, die Nessel, die Feder, die Ader, die Feier, die Leier, die Mauer, die Steuer usw. The Plural is: die Inseln, die Nesseln, die Federn, die Adern, die Feiern, die Leiern, die Mauern, die Steuern.

»Das Herz« (the heart) has got special forms:

 das Herz  Nominativ Singular 
 das Herz  Akkusativ Singular 
 dem Herz(en)  Dativ Singular 
 des Herzens  Genitiv Singular 
 die Herzen  Nominativ Plural 
 die Herzen  Akkusativ Plural 
 den Herzen  Dativ Plural 
 der Herzen  Genitiv Plural 

Note on 1.1: A very important class. The nouns in this declension class are essential nouns of the German language, for example der Bär (the bear), der Mensch (the human being), der Doktorand (doctoral candidate) etc. You won't hear Menschen in the singular very often these days. It is also called N-Deklination. Like the Genitiv the N-Deklination, too, seems to fade. Note on 1.2: Also one of the principal classes.

More on 1.1:

 der Affe   der Barde   der Bote   der Bube 
 der Bürge   der Buhle   der Drache   der Erbe 
 der Falke   der Fink   der Gatte   der Heide 
 der Held   der Hirte   der Junge   der Knabe 
 der Knappe   der Laie   der Löwe   der Neffe 
 der Rabe   der Riese   der Rüde   der Schütze 
 der Waise   der Zeuge   der Poet   der Mensch 
 der Statist   der Bär 

Weitere zu. 1.2:

 die Amme   die Arbeit   die Bahre   die Beere 
 die Bitte   die Blume   die Bude   die Brücke 
 die Decke   die Ehre   die Eiche   die Eile 
 die Kerze   die Eule   die Feige   die Frage 
 die Fichte   die Fliege   die Furche   die Gabe 
 die Galle   die Henne   die Halle   die Klage 
 die Klaue   die Krone   die Linde   die Mühle 
 die Nase   die Nichte   die Note   die Pfeife 

2.1 Plural mit -e

Genitiv-s im Singular, Dativ-n im Plural

Beispiel: der Knecht (the servant in medieval times)

 der Knecht  Nominativ Singular 
 den Knecht  Akkusativ Singular 
 dem Knecht  Dativ Singular 
 des Knechts  Genitiv Singular 
 die Knechte  Nominativ Plural 
 die Knechte  Akkusativ Plural 
 den Knechten  Dativ Plural 
 der Knechte  Genitiv Plural 

Beispiel: der Baum (mit Umlaut)

 der Baum  Nominativ Singular 
 den Baum  Akkusativ Singular 
 dem Baum  Dativ Singular 
 des Baumes  Genitiv Singular 
 die Bäume  Nominativ Plural 
 die Bäume  Akkusativ Plural 
 den Bäumen  Dativ Plural 
 der Bäume  Genitiv Plural 

2.2 Plural mit -e, feminine nouns, a handful but important

Singular unvarying, Dativ-n im Plural

Beispiel: die Nuss

 die Nuss  Nominativ Singular 
 die Nuss  Akkusativ Singular 
 der Nuss  Dativ Singular 
 der Nuss  Genitiv Singular 
 die Nüsse  Nominativ Plural 
 die Nüsse  Akkusativ Plural 
 den Nüssen  Dativ Plural 
 der Nüsse  Genitiv Plural 

Note on 2.1 and 2.2: Principal classes of New High German, due to their expressiveness according to Jakob Grimm - he calls this class »starke« Deklination (strong or major declension). Declension is the inflection of nouns. (Conjugation is the inflection of verbs.)

Weitere zu 2.1:

 der Aal   der Arm   der Berg   der Blitz 
 der Brief   der Dieb   der Dolch   der Feind 
 der Fisch   der Freund   der Hengst   der Herd 
 der Hirsch   der Hund   der Kern   der Krebs 
 der Krieg   der Laut   das Jahr   das Knie 
 das Bein   das Boot   das Blei   das Ding 
 das Meer   das Recht   das Rohr   das Schwein 
 das Seil   das Spiel   das Tier   das Schiff 

Weitere zu 2.2.:

 die Angst   die Bank   die Braut   die Brust 
 die Faust   die Gans   die Gruft   die Hand 
 die Haut   die Kraft   die Kuh   die Kunst 
 die Laus   die Luft   die Lust   die Macht 
 die Magd   die Maus   die Nacht   die Naht 
 die Not   die Nuss   die Sau   die Schnur 
 die Wand   die Wurst 

3. Singular mit Genitiv-s, Plural auf -er, Dativ-n im Plural

Beispiel: das Kind

 das Kind  Nominativ Singular 
 das Kind  Akkusativ Singular 
 dem Kind  Dativ Singular 
 des Kindes  Genitiv Singular 
 die Kinder  Nominativ Plural 
 die Kinder  Akkusativ Plural 
 den Kindern  Dativ Plural 
 der Kinder  Genitiv Plural
 das Amt   das Bad   das Band   das Bild 
 das Blatt   das Brett   das Buch   das Dach 
 das Ding   das Dorf   das Ei   das Fach 
 das Fass   das Feld   das Geld   das Glas 
 das Glied   das Grab   das Gras   das Gut 
 das Haupt   das Haus   das Holz   das Horn 
 das Huhn   das Kleid   das Korn   das Kraut 
 das Lamm   das Land   das Licht   das Lied 
 das Loch   das Maul   das Nest   das Rad 
 das Rind   das Schild   das Schloss   das Schwert 
 das Tal   das Tuch   das Volk   das Weib 
 das Wort 

4.1 Plural same as Singular, Genitiv-s im Singular

Beispiel: der Garten

 der Garten  Nominativ Singular 
 den Garten  Akkusativ Singular 
 dem Garten  Dativ Singular 
 des Gartens  Genitiv Singular 
 die Gärten  Nominativ Plural 
 die Gärten  Akkusativ Plural 
 den Gärten  Dativ Plural 
 der Gärten  Genitiv Plural 

4.2 Plural same as singular, Genitiv-s im Singular, Dativ-n im Plural

Beispiel: der Adler

 der Adler  Nominativ Singular 
 den Adler  Akkusativ Singular 
 dem Adler  Dativ Singular 
 des Adlers  Genitiv Singular 
 die Adler  Nominativ Plural 
 die Adler  Akkusativ Plural 
 den Adlern  Dativ Plural 
 der Adler  Genitiv Plural 

Zu 4.1:

 der Balken   der Bissen   der Bogen   der Braten 
 der Brunnen   der Daumen   der Felsen   der Galgen 
 der Garten   der Haufen   der Haken   der Kragen 
 der Kuchen   der Magen   der Schlitten   der Schaden 
 der Spaten   der Tropfen 

Zu 4.2:

 der Adler   der Kater   der Vater   der Eber 
 der Bruder   der Bengel   der Engel   der Nagel 
 der Stengel   der Apfel   der Stapel 

»Vater« wird im Plural umgelautet (die Väter, den Vätern).

5. foreign words, Maskulina und Neutra, im Plural: s, Genitiv-s im Singular

No Dativ-n in the plural.

Beispiel: das Baby

 das Baby  Nominativ Singular 
 das Baby  Akkusativ Singular 
 dem Baby  Dativ Singular 
 des Babys  Genitiv Singular 
 die Babys  Nominativ Plural 
 die Babys  Akkusativ Plural 
 den Babys  Dativ Plural 
 der Babys  Genitiv Plural 

Essential exception: die Mutter

 die Mutter  Nominativ Singular 
 die Mutter  Akkusativ Singular 
 der Mutter  Dativ Singular 
 der Mutter  Genitiv Singular 
 die Mütter  Nominativ Plural 
 die Mütter  Akkusativ Plural 
 den Müttern  Dativ Plural 
 der Mütter  Genitiv Plural 

>> continue

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