The German plural form can be hard, but if you apply the plurals rules that I give you in this post, it’ll be much easier.
1. Add -e to Form the German Plural
This is the most often used method to form plurals in German. You simply add an -e to the end of the word.
Masculine nouns are often made plural by using this method and in most of these cases, there is an added umlaut to one of the vowels. Feminine nouns that are made plural using this method always have an added umlaut. On the other hand neuter nouns almost never take an umlaut.
Both of the following two examples are masculine. The one takes the extra umlaut and the other does not:
der Sohn (the son) – die Söhne (the sons)
der Hund (the dog) – die Hunde (the dogs)
An example of a feminine noun:
die Gans (the goose) – die Gänse (the geese)
Next is an example of a neuter German noun made plural:
das Pferd (the horse) – die Pferde (the horses)
2. Add an -er Ending for a German Plural
This form is often used with neuter nouns, especially those ending in –tum. It is not used very often for masculine nouns, but there are some cases when it is used. Most often there is also an added umlaut.
The following example is for the plural of a German neuter noun:
das Haus (the house) – die Häuser (the houses)
‘Man’ is one of the very few masculine nouns to follow this pattern:
der Mann (the man) – die Männer (the men)
Here is an example of a word which does not take the extra umlaut in the plural:
das Kind (the child) – die Kinder (the children)
3. Add an -s Ending to Make a Plural in German
Similar to English there are certain nouns to take an -s at the end and never an umlaut. Most words in German that are actually from English, Dutch and French are changed into the plural in this way. Other nouns that use this method are people’s names, words with an unstressed vowel and abbreviations.
A noun with an unstressed vowel:
das Auto (the car) – die Autos (the cars)
die CD (CD) – die CDs (CDs)
A word originating from French:
das Café (the café) – die Cafés (the cafés)
Carl (Carl)– Carls (Carls)
4. Add an -n/en Ending to Make a German Plural
Masculine and some neuter nouns ending with -e only get an -en ending. If a feminine noun ends with -el or -er, for pronunciation reasons, so we simply to add an -n and not –en. When following this pattern we do not add umlauts.
das Auge (the eye) – die Augen (the eyes)
der Name (the name) – die Namen (the names)
die Lehre (the doctrine) – die Lehren (the doctrines)
5. No Change or an added umlaut for the German Plural Form
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.
Nouns Where Only the Article Changes
das Fenster (the window) – die Fenster (the windows)
Nouns that are Always Singular or Plural
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).
Have fun forming plurals, my dear readers!
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