I like plurals because life is more than just one thing. Here is how to form the plural in German.
1. Add -e
This is the most often used method to form a plural—simply add an -e ending. Masculine nouns are often switched to the plural form using this method. With feminine and most masculine nouns, too, there is an added umlaut.
Both of the following two examples are masculine. The one takes the extra umlaut and the other not:
der Sohn – die Söhne (the son – the sons)
der Hund – die Hunde (the dog – the dogs)
An example of a feminine noun:
die Gans – die Gänse (the goose – the geese)
And… a neuter example (this gender almost never takes an umlaut.)
das Pferd – die Pferde (the horse – the horses)
2. Add an -er Ending
This form often used with neuter nouns, especially those ending in -tum always works like this, and very infrequently with the masculine ones. Most often there is also the added umlaut.
das Haus – die Häuser (the house – the houses)
‘Man’ is one of the very few masculine nouns to follow this pattern:
der Mann – die Männer (the man – the men)
Here is an example of a word which does not take the extra umlaut:
das Kind – die Kinder (the child – the children)
3. Add an -s Ending
Similar to English there are certain nouns to take an -s at the end and never an umlaut. Most words from English, Dutch and French are changed into the plural in this way. Other nouns to use this method is people’s names, words with an unstressed vowel and of course abbreviations.
A noun with an unstressed vowel:
das Auto – die Autos (the car – the cars)
die CD – die CDs (CD – CDs)
A word originating from French:
das Café – die Cafés (the café – the cafés)
der Carl – die Carls (Carl – Carls)
4. Add an -n/en Ending
Masculine and some neuter nouns ending with -e, we merely add an -en ending. If a feminine noun ends with -el or -er, for pronunciation reasons, so we simply to add an -n. When following this pattern we do not add umlauts.
das Auge – die Augen (the eye – the eyes)
der Name – die Namen (the name – the names)
die Lehre – die Lehren (the doctrine – the doctrines)
5. No Change or an added umlaut.
Similar to English, not all German nouns change in the plural. The only difference with German is that the article changes and that some of them take an umlaut.
This often happens with nouns ending in -er:
das Fenster – die Fenster (the window – the windows)
In some cases, words are only used in either the singular or plural form:
die Milch (the milk) – Always singular
die Ferien (the holidays) – Always plural
To double-check yourself when forming a plural, simply type in the plural of the English word into leo.org and it will give you the German for both the singular and the plural. Most other bilingual dictionaries also display both the singular and the plural, but I like Leo (if you want to know why, click here).
Life is more than just surviving, the singulars; life is plural.
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