German nouns

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A German noun has one of three specific grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) and belongs to one of three declension classes, only partly dependent of gender. A fourth declension is used for plural declension. These features remain unaltered by inflection but must be considered in this process. The grammatical gender influences articles, adjectives and pronouns. Note that gender has no relation to sex of the noun (e.g. the word "girl" is neuter, while "tree" is masculine). It is best considered as an attribute of the noun.

Number (singular, plural) and case (nominative, accusative, dative, genitive) must be taken into account in the process of declension.

The declension can be more difficult than in other languages such as Latin; not only the word ending, but also the root may be altered by inflecting.

  • Der Mann (sg.) - Die Männer (pl.) ("the man" - "the men")

Some nouns only have a singular form (singularia tantum); other nouns only have a plural form (pluralia tantum):

  • Das All, der Durst, der Sand ("universe", "thirst", "sand")
  • Die Kosten, die Ferien ("costs", "the holidays")

Traps abound in both directions here; common singular-only words in Englishare not singular in German, and vice versa:

  • informationInformation, die Information ("the piece of information")
"die Informationen" ("the pieces of information")
  • the police are......
  • ...

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