Declension of Nouns

German nouns change according to their gender, case and number.

Strong Declension

The regular pattern of noun declension is defined as follows:

1. Feminine nouns do not change their endings in the singular.

2. Masculine and neuter nouns add -(e)s in the genitive singular.

des Apfels

des Kindes

3. All nouns add -n in the dative plural if the nominative plural does not already end in -n or -s.

auf den Tischen - on the tables

in den Autos - in the cars

4. The genitive -es endings is used in nouns with the following endings:

-s - des Houses

-sch - des Tisches

-ß/ss - des Fußes, des Flusses

-st - des Dienstes

-z - des Schmerzes

Weak Declension

In weak declension, masculine nouns add -n or -en in the accusative, dative and genitive singular and in the plural. Since there is no way of knowing just by looking at the noun whether it is declined according to weak pattern, a noun needs to be learnt when it is first met. Below are some of the most common weak nouns:

der Mensch - man, der Junge - boy, der Neffe - nephew and a few other.

A small number of weak nouns have an -ns ending in the genitive singular.

A good dictionary will always give the gender, genitive singular and plural forms of a noun. Thus, the dictionary entry Kind n., -es, -er indicates that the noun is neuter, that the genitive form is des Kindes and that the plural is die Kinder.

The Genitive with Proper Nouns

The genitive of proper nouns is also formed with -s but without the apostrophe.

Emmas Vater ist Mechaniker. - Emma's father is a mechanic.

In spoken German von + noun is commonly used:

Der Vater von Emma - the father of Emma

Grammar Patterns

Listening Comprehension