Lesson: Nouns in German Grammar

Lesson: Nouns in German Grammar


Nouns (Substantive) play a fundamental role in German grammar, serving as the names for people, objects, places, and concepts. Understanding how German nouns work is crucial for constructing sentences correctly and expressing yourself fluently. In this lesson, we’ll explore the key aspects of German nouns, including gender, number, and case.

1. Gender (Geschlecht):

In German, every noun has one of three grammatical genders: masculine (männlich), feminine (weiblich), or neuter (sächlich). Unlike English, which mostly relies on natural gender, German assigns genders based on word endings and certain rules, although there are exceptions.

  • Masculine Nouns (der): Generally, nouns referring to male beings or ending in -er, -en, -el, -ling, -or, -ig, -ismus, -ant, and -ent are masculine.
  • Example: der Mann (man), der Tisch (table), der Lehrer (teacher – male).

  • Feminine Nouns (die): Nouns ending in -e, -ion, -heit, -keit, -schaft, -ung, -tät, and -enz are usually feminine.

  • Example: die Frau (woman), die Nation (nation), die Freiheit (freedom).

  • Neuter Nouns (das): Nouns ending in -chen, -lein, -ment, -um, -tum, -nis, -sal, and all infinitives used as nouns are typically neuter.

  • Example: das Kind (child), das Mädchen (girl), das Problem (problem).

2. Number (Zahl):

German nouns can be singular (Singular) or plural (Plural). Forming plurals involves adding specific endings or modifying the word stem. The plural form also depends on the noun’s gender.

  • Masculine and Neuter Nouns: Most masculine and neuter nouns add -e or -en to form the plural.
  • Example: der Tisch (singular) – die Tische (plural), das Haus (singular) – die Häuser (plural).

  • Feminine Nouns: Feminine nouns usually add -n or -en to form the plural, but some have no change.

  • Example: die Tür (singular) – die Türen (plural), die Straße (singular) – die Straßen (plural).

3. Case (Kasus):

German nouns change their form according to their grammatical case within a sentence. There are four cases in German: nominative (Nominativ), accusative (Akkusativ), dative (Dativ), and genitive (Genitiv). Each case serves a specific grammatical function.

  • Nominative Case (Nominativ): Used for the subject of a sentence or the predicate noun after “sein” (to be).
  • Example: Der Mann isst einen Apfel. (The man eats an apple.)

  • Accusative Case (Akkusativ): Used for the direct object of a sentence, indicating the noun being acted upon.

  • Example: Er sieht den Hund. (He sees the dog.)

  • Dative Case (Dativ): Used for the indirect object of a sentence, indicating the recipient of the action.

  • Example: Ich gebe dem Kind einen Ball. (I give the child a ball.)

  • Genitive Case (Genitiv): Indicates possession or a relationship between two nouns.

  • Example: Das Auto des Mannes ist neu. (The man’s car is new.)


Understanding nouns in German grammar is essential for mastering the language. By learning the gender, number, and case of nouns, you’ll be able to construct sentences accurately and communicate effectively in both spoken and written German. Practice identifying and using nouns in context to reinforce your understanding and fluency.

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