The English plural is usually formed by adding an -s to the base. This suffix is also regularly used in languages such as Spanish, French and Italian. In German, however, the plural is seldom -s. In fact, the German plural can be formed in many different ways. The rules for pluralization in German are far more complicated than in English.
The German word for dog is "Hund." All German nouns must be capitalized. In addition, learners usually memorize the noun with the article because German has three articles- "der" is masculine, "die" is feminine and "das" is neuter. The article used with all plural nouns is "die." The word "Hund" is masculine. Thus, "the dog" is "der Hund." The plural of "Hund" is "Hunde." Nouns in this category add the suffix -e to form the plural.
The word for dress is "Kleid." This noun is neuter. As a result, "the dress" is "das Kleid." The plural of "das Kleid" is "die Kleider." Nouns in this category add the suffix -er.
In German "ball" is "Kugel." This word is feminine. Therefore "the ball" is "die Kugel." The plural of "die Kugel" is "die Kugeln." Nouns in this category add the suffix -n.
The word for "car" in German is "Wagen." This is a masculine noun. Therefore "the car" is "der Wagen." The plural is the same. "Die Wagen" means "the cars." Those nouns which belong to this category have the same form in both the singular and the plural.
The word for "car" can also be "Auto." Of course this word can also be translated as "auto." This noun is neuter. "Das Auto means "the car." To form the plural, add the suffix -s. The plural of "das Auto" is "die Autos."
In certain cases, the plural is formed with a vowel change. For example, the German word for "apple" is Apfel. This word is masculine. The German phrase "der Apfel" is "the apple." To form the plural, the vowel "a" is changed to an "a:" which is called an umlaut in German. The plural of "der Apfel" is "die A:pfel."
The German word "Lehrerin" means "female teacher." The noun is feminine. "Die Lehrerin" means "the female teacher." The plural of "die Lehrerin" is "die Lehrerinnen." Nouns in this category add -nen to form the plural.
The German word "Erlebnis" corresponds to "experience." It is a neuter noun. "Das Erlebnis means "the experience." To form the plural, the suffix -se is added. The plural of "das Erlebnis" is "die Erlebnisse."
Unlike in English, the suffix -s is seldom used in German to form the plural. In fact, this plural suffix is only one of several. Many different suffixes can be used to form the plural. Though certain patterns can be formed in the formation of German plurals such as the suffix -s added to foreign words and -nen added to feminine nouns such as "female teacher," the plurals must largely be memorized. The rules for the pluralization of nouns in German are not as simple as they are in English.
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