German plurals - the nominative Case Edit

In English, making plurals out of singular nouns is typically as straightforward as adding an "s" or an "es" at the end of the word. In German, the transformation is more complex. The following five suggestions can help:

  1. -e ending: most German one-syllable nouns will need -e in their plural form. For example, in the nominative case, "das Brot" (the bread) becomes "die Brote," and "das Spiel" (the game) becomes "die Spiele."
  2. -er ending: most other masculine or neuter nouns will need the -er ending, and there may be umlaut changes. For example, in the nominative case "das Kind" (the child) becomes "die Kinder," and "der Mann" (the man) becomes "die Männer."
  3. -n/-en ending: most feminine nouns will take either -n or -en in all four grammatical cases, with no umlaut changes. For example, "die Frau" (the woman) becomes "die Frauen" and "die Kartoffel" becomes "die Kartoffeln." All nouns ending in -e will have an added -n, so "die Ente" becomes "die Enten".
  4. -s ending: most foreign-origin nouns will take the -s ending for the plural, usually with no umlaut changes. For example: "der Chef" (the boss) becomes "die Chefs."
  5. There is no change for most neuter or masculine nouns that contain any of these in the singular: -chen, -lein, -el, or -er. There may be umlaut changes. For example: "das Mädchen" (the girl) becomes "die Mädchen," and "der Bruder" (the brother) becomes "die Brüder."

German feminine plurals - nouns ending in -in Edit

Feminine nouns that end in "-in" will need "-nen" in the plural. For example, "die Köchin" (the female cook) becomes "die Köchinnen" in its plural form.

ihr vs er Edit

If you're new to German, ihr and er may sound exactly the same, but there is actually a difference. ihr sounds similar to the English word ear, and er sounds similar to the English word air (imagine a British/RP accent).

Don't worry if you can't pick up on the difference at first. You may need some more listening practice before you can tell them apart. Also, try using headphones instead of speakers.

Even if this doesn't seem to help, knowing your conjugation tables will greatly reduce the amount of ambiguity.

German English ich bin I am
du bist you (singular informal) are
er/sie/es ist he/she/it is
wir sind we are
ihr seid you (plural informal) are
sie sind they are
Sie sind you (formal) are
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