Plural Nouns in German Grammar

Introduction

A plural noun expresses that there is more than one person, object, idea etc. To form plural nouns in German, we can add -n/-en, -e, -e/-er, or -s to the end of the noun. The rules for plural noun formation in German grammar are listed below.

Learn everything you need to know about the formation of plural nouns in German on Lingolia and test your knowledge in the exercises.

Example

die Geldscheine

die Münzen

das Geld (no plural)

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Plural Noun Endings in German Grammar

German plurals are formed by adding -n/-en, -e, -e/-er, -s. Some nouns are the same in their singular and plural forms e.g. die Löffel whilst others are mostly used in the singular e.g. die Milch or plural form e.g. die Eltern. The ending of a nouns give us a clue as to which plural ending to use.

Below is a summary of word endings and their typical plural endings. Be aware that there are many exceptions to these rules.

Add -n/-en

Here is a list of German noun endings that form the plural with -n or -en:

  • masculine nouns with the endings -e, -ent, and, -ant, -ist, -or
    Example:
    der Student – die Studententhe student – the students
  • feminine nouns with the endings -e, -in, -ion, -ik, -heit, -keit, -schaft, -tät, -ung
    Example:
    die Nation – die Nationenthe nation – the nations

    in the case of feminine nouns that end in -in, the n is doubled

    die Lehrerin – die Lehrerinnenthe teacher – the teachers
  • the endings -ma, -um, -us in foreign words are usually replaced by -en
    Example:
    das Thema – die Thementhe topic – the topics

Add -e

Here is a list of German noun endings that form the plural with -e:

  • masculine nouns with the endings -eur, -ich, -ier, -ig, -ling, -ör
    Example:
    der Friseur – die Friseurethe hairdresser – the hairdressers
  • many single-syllable feminine nouns
    Example:
    die Hand – die Händethe hand – the hands

    an umlaut is added to the plural form

Add -r/-er

Here is a list of German noun endings that form the plural with -r or -er:

  • many single-syllable neuter nouns
    Example:
    das Wort – die Wörterthe word – the words

    an umlaut is often added to the plural form

  • To note: feminine nouns never form the plural with -r/-er.

Add -s

Here is a list of German nouns endings that form the plural with -s:

  • masculine, feminine, and neuter nouns with the endings -a, -i, -o, -u, -y
    Example:
    der Opa – die Opasthe grandpa – the grandpas
    das Auto – die Autosthe car – the cars
    die Mutti – die Muttisthe mum – the mums
    das Hobby – die Hobbysthe hobby – the hobbies
  • family names
    Example:
    die Lehmanns he Lehmann family

No Plural Ending

Here is a list of German noun endings that don’t change in the plural form:

  • masculine nouns with the endings -el, -en, -er
    Example:
    der Löffel – die Löffelthe spoon – the spoons
  • neuter nouns with the endings -chen, -lein
    Example:
    das Mädchen – die Mädchenthe girl – the girls

Singular or Plural

  • Most nouns can be used in the singular and the plural.
    Example:
    der Geldschein – die Geldscheinethe banknote – the banknotes
    die Münze – die Münzenthe coin – the coins
  • Some nouns tend to be used only in the singular.
    Example:
    das Geldthe money, der Hungerthe hunger, die Milchthe milk

    There is a plural form, “die Gelder”, but this has a different meaning.

  • Some nouns are used only in the plural.
    Example:
    die Elternthe parents, die Leutethe people, die Ferienthe holidays