German Plurals: Your Essential Guide

German noun plurals is a tricky topic! Making matters worse, there is a lack of consensus on even how many different plural forms there are (5? 6? 9?).

To write this guide for you, I ended up nerding out on a major German noun plurals rabbit hole.

And — would you believe it? — some of the BEST resources on German plurals that I found were written in 1914 and 1882 😮. The German in these books was in old script and everything!

Turns out, there are lots of predictable patterns to German noun plurals (just like for German noun gender!).

In this guide, we will talk about the categories of German noun plurals, tips & tricks for how to best learn (or guess) the correct plurals, and various key exceptions.

Are you ready to accurately predict a German noun’s plural nearly all the time? Let’s do it!

What You Need To Know

Whenever we learn a language — whether our 1st or our 10th — we usually start by learning nouns so that we can label things: table, floor, glass, plate, man, child, dog, tree.

Of course, to get anywhere with a language, you can’t just talk about one table, floor, glass, plate, etc. We need to be able to talk about any number of men, children, trees, dogs and more!

A plural noun is what we use to talk about 2 or more people, places, things, concepts, etc.

Bad News: German noun plurals are a bit trickier than in English (rats!).

Good News: In this guide, you’ll discover some shortcuts that make German noun plurals much more manageable!

How Plural Nouns Work in English

Most English noun plurals are formed just by adding an -(e)s: table → tables, glass → glasses.

Sometimes we have to change letters, such as ‘y’ to ‘i’ as in baby → babies before adding on the -(e)s plural. Some (but not all — just to keep us on our toes) ‘f’s also change to ‘v’s: wife → wives, wolf → wolves.

Then, of course, we have some plurals that are actually quite different, such as child → children, goose → geese, mouse → mice, tooth → teeth, person → people.

Some English plurals that actually don’t change at all: 1 fish → 2 fish, 1 deer → 100 deer.

We also have collective nouns that don’t even have plurals (e.g. information or knowledge).

Finally, we also have funky plurals for foreign (-origin) words: alumnus → alumni, phenomenon → phenomena, analysis → analyses. 

Whoa! I said that German noun plurals were tricky, but as it turns out … so are English ones. Maybe we have a leg up on German plurals after all. You can’t intimidate us, German nouns!

How Plural Nouns Work in German

Most German noun plurals are formed based on how the singular noun sounds. 

This can be a matter of …

  1. spelling (i.e. which suffix the noun has)
  2. which syllable is emphasized/accented
  3. how long the noun is (e.g. single syllable vs. multi-syllable)

For example:

  • most nouns ending in -el, -en, or -er don’t change in their plural forms
  • most nouns that have accented final syllables will be take an -e plural
  • most single-syllable nouns will take an -e + umlaut plural

It’s possible to calculate the categories of German noun plurals differently, but for our purposes, we’ll say there are these 6 regular categories because these cover the majority of nouns.

  1. no change
  2. add -e
  3. add -e + umlaut
  4. add -s
  5. add -er + umlaut
  6. add -(e)n

We’ll cover important exceptions, foreign-word plurals, and the oddballs later!

Plurals Guidelines

If you memorize a smattering of rules/guidelines and some short lists of key exceptions, you can be a master of German plurals!

Gender Rules:
  • 80% masculine and 75% neuter nouns take the -e plural
  • 90% feminine nouns take the -(e)n plural.
  • Know the noun’s gender and you’ll know the correct plural form 80% of the time!
Suffix Rules:

Certain suffixes (i.e. endings) always* take the same plural, regardless of noun gender:

Hierarchical Rules:
  1. Suffixes rule! If your noun has a suffix, use the plural form associated with it.
  2. All feminine nouns & nouns referring to male people default to the -(e)n plural form.
  3. Monosyllables default to taking an -e (+ umlaut) regardless of gender.
  4. Any nouns leftover from the previous 3 steps default to the -e plural.

Read the Digging Deeper section below for specific masculine, feminine, and neuter plurals examples (& common exceptions) plus more details on German noun plurals hacks!

Digging Deeper

In this section, we’ll look at noun plurals arranged according to category, gender, and rules AND also delve into the oddballs:

  • nouns without a plural form
  • nouns that exist only as plurals
  • nouns with multiple plurals that mean different things
  • plural nouns that don’t have English equivalents
  • foreign-word plurals

Plurals According to Category

We can examine German noun plurals several different ways (and we will), but one of them is to break things down according to plural type. Which nouns typically take which plural forms?

As I mentioned earlier, the number of German noun plurals categories can be interpreted differently. For our purposes here, I will list 6 categories and some exceptions.

For example, the ‘no change’ category has an important list of exceptions (with the only change being the adding of an umlaut). There are only about 24 of these nouns at all, and only about half of them so common they’re worth memorizing (jump to the exceptions list (1A) list here).

  • only masculine and neuter nouns
  • all nouns ending with -chen, -lein
  • Ge…e neuter nouns
  • about 60% of nouns ending with -el, -er, -en (feminine -el & -er take -n plural)

Exceptions: add umlaut

  • ~20 masculine: e.g. Vater (father), Bruder (brother)
  • 2 feminine: Mutter (mother) and Tochter (daughter)
  • 2 neuter: Kloster (cloister) and Wasser (water)
  • many monosyllabic masculine
  • about 30 feminine
  • 1 neuter: Floß (raft)
  • (often foreign-origin) nouns ending with -a, -i, -o, -u, or -y

Plurals According to Gender

Another way to look at German noun plurals is through the lens of each gender. It’s the same information, just organized differently.

NOTE: I will exclude the add -s category from this analysis and talk about it later HERE. 

Masculine Noun Plurals

Examples:

der Sessel (armchair)→ die Sessel
der Fahrer (driver) → die Fahrer
der Onkel (uncle)→ die Onkel
der Computer → die Computer

Exceptions:

der Vetter (male cousin) → die Vettern
der Stachel (thorn)→ die Stacheln
der Charakter (character)→ die Charaktere
der Muskel (muscle)→ die Muskeln

Examples:

der Garten (garden) → die Gärten
der Mantel (coat) → die Mäntel
der Vater (father) → die Väter
der Apfel (apple) → Äpfel

Examples:

der Tisch (table) → die Tische
der Arm (arm) → die Arme
der Hund (dog) → die Hunde
der Versuch (attempt)→ die Versuche

Examples:

der Bach (creek) → die Bäche
der Stuhl (chair) → die Stühle
der Fuß (foot) → die Füße
der Bart (beard) → die Bärte

Examples:

  • All so-called ‘weak’ masculine nouns referring to male people & animals, e.g.
    der Affe (monkey) → die Affen
    der Student (male student) → die Studenten

  • 6 other -e outliers
    der Buchstabe (letter of the alphabet) → Buchstaben
    der Friede (peace) → Frieden
    der Funke (spark) → Funken
    der Gedanke (thought) → Gedanken
    der Name → Namen
    der Same (seed) → Samen

  • a handful of others, e.g.
    der Fleck (spot, stain) → die Flecken
    der Schmerz (pain) → die Schmerzen

Examples:

der Gott (God) → die Götter
der Mann (man) → die Männer
der Wald (forest) → die Wälder
der Irrtum (error) → die Irrtümer

Feminine Noun Plurals

Feminine noun plurals are the most straightforward of the 3 genders.

There are 2 plural forms that feminine nouns don’t use at all and over 90% of all feminine nouns use the same plural form.

Die Mutter (mother) → die Mütter
die Tochter (daughter) → die Töchter

Examples:

die Erlaubnis (permission) → die Erlaubnisse
die Mühsal (hardship) → die Mühsale
die Finsternis (darkness) → die Finsternisse

TIP: 70% of nouns that end with -nis or -sal are neuter, but they also take an -e plural!

NOTE the doubled ‘s’: die Erkenntnis (insight) → die Erkenntnisse

Examples:

die Kuh (cow) → die Kühe
die Nacht (night) → die Nächte
die Hand (hand) → die Hände
die Nuss (nut)→ die Nüsse

NOTE: also compound nouns ending with -brunst, -flucht, and -kunft (<– note the ‘u’ vowels and the ‘t’ endings!) take this e + umlaut plural form, too!

Examples:

  • nouns with any of the feminine suffixes (e.g. -ung, -schaft, -tät, -ur)
  • ~25% of all nouns ending in -er or -el (just the -n, though, without the extra -e)

Remember: the bulk of -er and -el nouns are masculine or neuter and take the no change plural form with very few exceptions.

NOTE that feminine persons with the -in ending in the singular double that ‘n’ before adding on the -en plural ending, e.g. die Freundin (female friend; girlfriend) → die Freundinnen

You clicked and found … no treasure 😔

Neuter Noun Plurals

There are three categories of neuter noun plurals were we find the bulk of neuter nouns and just a smattering of additional neuter nouns spread over the other three plural form groups.

Examples:

das Fenster (window) → die Fenster
das Kissen (pillow) → die Kissen
das Mädchen (girl) → die Mädchen
das Büchlein (little book) → die Büchlein

Das Kloster (cloister) → die Klöster
das Wasser (water) → die Wässer

Examples:

das Bein (leg) → die Beine
das Jahr (year) → die Jahre
das Verbot (prohibition) → die Verbote
das Zeugnis (witness) → die Zeugnisse

NOTE: just as for feminine nouns ending in -nis, the ‘s’ must be doubled before the -e.

Das Floß (raft) → die Flöße

  • Some of the few singular neuter nouns ending with -e take this plural form, e.g. das Auge (eye) → die Augen, das Interesse (interest)→ die Interessen.
  • Scientific terms ending with -on in the singular also take this plural form, e.g. das Elektron → die Elektronen.
  • Other nouns taking this plural form include das Bett (bed) → die Betten and das Herz (heart) → die Herzen

Examples:

das Bild (picture) → die Bilder
das Buch (book) → die Bücher
das Kleid (dress) → die Kleider
das Kind (child) → die Kinder

Notes: an umlaut is added in the plural wherever possible (so, on any a, o, or u).

Plurals According to Hierarchical Rules

This is my favorite way to think about plurals because, here, we lump nouns together functionally, which crosses gender lines.

Here are the fewest number of rules that still cover the vast majority of plurals (if you memorize the short lists of common exceptions, too, we’d be getting pretty darn close to 100%!).

You have to start at rule #1: does the noun have a suffix?

If none of the listed suffixes apply, move on to rule #2: is it a feminine noun OR a noun for a male person?

If that doesn’t apply, move on to rule #3: is it a monosyllable?

If rule #3 doesn’t apply, you’ve reached the end of the road! Put on the default add -e plural.

Examples:

  • You need the plural for Blume (flower). Blume ends with -e, so you stop at Rule #1 (Suffixes)! The plural form for Blume is -n: Blumen (flowers)
  • You need the plural for Held (hero) Rule #1 doesn’t apply because there’s no suffix. But Held is a male person, so that lines up with Rule #2. The plural for Held is therefore Helden.
  • You need the plural for Lineal (measuring ruler). Rules #1-3 don’t apply, so Lineal defaults to the -e plural: Lineale.

Exception Lists

If you memorize the short lists of these common exceptions (note: there are more, but you really don’t need to worry about them!) to our broad, overarching rules, there will be scarcely a noun left that you wouldn’t be able to properly pluralize!

Exceptions: these 12 nouns (almost all masculine*) do take an umlaut

*Apfel (apple) → Äpfel
*Bruder (brother) → Brüder
*Garten (garden) → Gärten
*Graben (ditch) → Gräben
*Kasten (box) → Kästen
*Laden (store) → Läden
*Mantel (coat) → Mäntel
die Mutter (mother) → Mütter
*Schaden (damage) → Schäden
*Schwager (brother-in-law) → Schwäger
die Tochter (daughter) → Töchter
*Vater (father) → Väter
*Vogel (bird) → Vögel

 Exceptions: some common foreign-origin words ending with -a take an -en plural:

das Drama → Dramen, Thema (topic) → Themen, die Firma (company) → Firmen

Exception: neuter Ge…e nouns, e.g. das Gebäude → die Gebäude

Exception: ~45 feminine monosyllables (and compound nouns that end with –brunst, -flucht, -kunft) take the -e + umlaut plural.

16 of the most common [all monosyllables] examples:

  • Angst (fear) → Ängste
  • Bank (bench) → Bänke
  • Brust (breast / chest) → Brüste
  • Faust (fist) → Fäuste
  • Frucht (fruit) → Früchte
  • Gans (goose) → Gänse
  • Hand → Hände
  • Kraft (strength) → Kräfte
  • Kuh (cow) → Kühe
  • Macht (power) → Mächte
  • Maus (mouse) → Mäuse
  • Nacht (night) → Nächte
  • Nuss (nut) → Nüsse
  • Stadt (city) → Städte
  • Wand (wall) → Wände
  • Wurst (sausage) → Würste

There are admittedly a lot of exceptions to this rule, but you’re still ahead of the game if you use it & work on committing the exceptions to memory!

Exceptions:

  • 10 masculine* & neuter nouns take the -(e)n plural:

    Bett (bed) → Betten
    Fakt (fact) → Fakten
    *Fleck (spot, stain) → Flecken
    Hemd (shirt) → Hemden
    Herz (heart) → Herzen
    *Nerv (nerve) → Nerven
    Ohr (ear) → Ohren
    *Staat (state) → Staaten
    *Zeh (toe) → Zehen

  • 30 masculine* & neuter nouns take the -er (+ umlaut) plural

    Bad (bath) → Bäder
    Blatt (page, leaf) → Blätter
    Bild (picture) → Bilder
    Brett (board) → Bretter
    Buch (book) → Bücher
    Dach (roof) → Dächer 
    Dorf (village) → Dörfer
    Fach (subject; compartment) → Fächer
    *Geist (spirit) → Geister
    Glas (glass) → Gläser
    *Gott (god) → Götter
    Haus (house) → Häuser
    Holz (wood) → Hölzer
    Horn (horn) → Hörner
    Kind (child) → Kinder
    Kleid (dress) → Kleider
    Kraut (herb) → Kräuter
    Licht (light) → Lichter
    Lied (song) → Lieder
    Loch (hole) → Löcher
    *Mann (man) → Männer
    *Mund (mouth) → Münder
    Nest (nest) → Nester
    Rad (wheel) → Räder
    *Rand (edge) → Ränder
    Schild (sign) → Schilder
    Tal (valley) → Täler
    *Wald (forest) → Wälder
    Wort (word) → Wörter
    *Wurm (worm) → Würmer

  • These *masculine & neuter monosyllables are examples of ones that take the -e plural form but NO umlaut even though, in some cases, they could take an umlaut (on ‘a’, ‘o’, or ‘u’ → ä, ö, ü):

    *Arm (arm) → Arme
    *Hund (dog)→ Hunde
    *Punkt (point) → Punkte
    Schaf (sheep) → Schafe
    Jahr (year) → Jahre

Exceptions:

  • these common masculine* and neuter nouns take -(e)n

*Diamant (diamond) → Diamanten
*Elefant (elephant) → Elefanten
*Hydrant → Hydranten
das Insekt (insect) → Insekten
*Komet (comet) → Kometen
*Konsonant (consonant) → Konsonanten
*Magnet → Magneten
*Planet → Planeten

Oddball Plurals

Since you clearly want to master German noun plurals, let’s cover some other special situations and you will be SET!

In the following sections, you’ll learn about

  • foreign word plurals
  • countable vs. uncountable nouns
  • when German vs. English prefers the singular or plural version of a given noun
  • what happens in English & German when no regular singular and/or plural forms exist.
  • nouns with multiple plurals (and different meanings!)

Foreign-loan word plurals

There are many foreign-loan words that take and ‘s’ in the plural, just like in English — how nice!

Even if you don’t know for sure if the word is necessarily “foreign” or not, in general, if the noun ends with i, o, u, or y, its plural form takes an ‘s’.

Otherwise, there are also loan words from classical languages or Italian that tend to take -(i)en in the plural.

Plurals with -s 

Many recent loan words from French and English take an -s in the plural, including after a y. Note that nouns ending in -o, -i, and -u take an ‘s’ plural.

In contrast, nouns that end with -e (or -ie), take an -n as per regular plural rules. And nouns that end with -a sometimes take an ‘s’ plural, sometimes an ‘en’ plural (read more below).

das Auto → die Autos
das Baby → die Babys
das Büro (office) → die Büros
der Chef → die Chefs
das Detail → die Details (note: French pronunciation!)
das Handy (cell phone) → die Handys
das Hotel → die Hotels
die Kamera (video recorder)→ die Kameras
der Opa (grandpa) → die Opas
der Ossi (resident of former East Germany) → die Ossis
der Park → die Parks
die Party → die Partys
das Sofa → die Sofas
der Tunnel → die Tunnels
der Uhu (type of owl) → die Uhus

The -s plural is also used after family names, colloquially, and with acronyms and abbreviations.

die Schmidts (the Smiths)
die Kumpels (pals, buddies, coll.; standard plural is die Kumpel)
der LKW (semi-truck) → die LKWs
die Lok (locamotive) → die Loks

For loan words from classical languages or Italian, -o endings will change to -i OR -en in formal contexts (e.g. das Cello → die Celli, das Konto (account) → die Konten), but frequently take a simple -s plural in colloquial German (e.g. das Cello → die Cellos, das Konto → die Kontos).

der Espresso → die Espressos
das Risiko (risk) → die Risikos
der Solo → die Solos
der Tempo → die Tempos

Plurals with -(i)en 

Some of the foreign loan-word nouns that I’ll list here with -en plurals do have other, formal plurals that are still used in academic literature, etc.

But for your purposes and mine — to speak everyday German with everyday Germans — it’s best to learn these versions (so we don’t sound hoity-toity).

Bonus: now we have fewer plural endings to learn! YAY.

der Rhythmus (rhythm) → die Rhythmen

das Museum → die Museen

das Zentrum (center) → die Zentren

das Album → die Alben (or Albums)

Exceptions: there are some nouns that have adopted native plurals, e.g.: der Bus → die Busse, der Bonus → die Bonusse.

das Dogma → die Dogmen
die Firma (company) → die Firmen
die Pizza → die Pizzen (or Pizzas)
das Thema (topic) → die Themen
die Veranda → die Veranden
die Villa → die Villen

Exceptions: some nouns ending with -a take an -s plural in colloquial speech instead: das Dilemma → die Dilemmas, das Komma → die Kommas. 

Many other nouns (listed in the previous section) that end with -a take an ‘s’ — in fact, you can think of the -a words going 50/50 either way.

das Epos (epoch) → die Epen
der Mythos (myth) → die Mythen
die Basis → die Basen 
die Praxis (practice) → die Praxen
das Prinzip (principle) → die Prinzipien
das Privileg (privilege) → die Privilegien
das Material → die Materialien
das Utensil → die Utensilien

Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable nouns are generally materials (e.g. water, tea, rice, sugar, air, wool) or abstract concepts (e.g. love, hatred, anger, fear, intelligence, beauty, safety).

German and English have very similar lists of uncountable nouns (hooray!).

However, even when a noun is technically countable, oftentimes both German and English will prefer the uncountable version.

For example, both English and German prefer to use people (Leute) over the countable person(s) (Menschen):

Many people [not persons] travel to Germany each year.
(Viele Leute reisen jedes Jahr nach Deutschland.)

Nouns used in the plural

There are some nouns that German prefers to use in the plural, whereas in English those same nouns are used in the singular form.

Check out this example with die Flitterwochen (honeymoon).

Our honeymoon was [singular noun-verb agreement] in France.
Unsere Flitterwochen waren [plural noun-verb agreement] in Frankreich. 

Here are some other nouns that German uses in the plural, but English uses in the singular:

die Immobilien (real estate)
die Lebensmittel (food)
die Wirren (turmoil)
die Zinsen (interest, as on a loan)

Nouns used in the singular

Of course, now we have the opposite scenario: nouns in German that are used in their singular form that have English equivalents in the plural.

For example, das Archiv in German is a singular noun that means archives in English, as in:

I checked the office archives for her hire date.
(Ich habe nach ihrem Einstellungsdatum im Archiv gesucht.)

If you were to use the plural in German — die Archiven — that would mean multiple buildings of archives. See the difference?

Likewise, here are some other nouns used in their singular form in German, but plural form in English. Note that there isn’t necessarily a plural version in German at all! Some of these nouns exist only in singular form:

der Besitz — possessions
die Brille — eyeglasses
die Hose — pants
der Lohn — wages
die Politik — politics
der Pyjama — pyjamas
die Zange — tongs

No Regular German or English Plural

Some singular nouns don’t take a regular plural form, so another word (that does have regular singular and plural forms) is added.

For example, what is the plural of lightning?

In English, lightning is a noun that doesn’t have a standard, regular plural. We don’t say ‘wow! I saw many lightnings!’ 

The clever way around this problem is to use another noun that we can count, e.g. flash → flashes. Wow! I saw many flashes of lightning!” is an acceptable phrase in English.

In English, we can’t say advice → advices, either, for example. Rather, we say pieces of advice. And in German, is the same: der Rat (advice) → die Ratschläge(pieces of advice)

Similarly, der Schmuck (jewellery) → die Schmuckstücke (pieces of jewellery)

Regular English Plurals With No German Equivalent

In most instances, English and German use plural forms (e.g. die Ferien for holidays) in the same way. But some German nouns don’t have regular plurals like our English equivalents do.

These plurals in German have to be formed in a ‘roundabout’ way, using other nouns that can be counted, e.g. Stufen – degrees/levels/stages.

das Alter (age) → die Altersstufen (ages)
der Atem (breath) → die Atemzüge(breaths)
der Käse (cheese) → die Käsesorten (cheeses)
der Kohl (cabbage) → die Kohlköpfe(cabbages)
der Kummer (anxiety) → die Kümmernisse(anxieties)
der Luxus (luxury) → die Luxusartikeln(luxuries)
der Rasen (lawn) → die Rasenflächen(lawns)
der Sport (sport) → die Sportarten(sports)
der Streit (quarrel) → die Streitereien(quarrels)
der Tod (death) → die Todesfälle(deaths)

Regular German Singular Nouns With No English Equivalent

In these examples, English has a regular plural form only. But in German, a distinction is drawn between one and multiple.

In English, these singular versions are formed in a ‘roundabout’ way using countable nouns, e.g. piece.

Examples:

die Auskunft ([piece of] information) → die Auskünfte (information)
die Hausaufgabe ([piece of] homework) → die Hausaufgaben (homework)
die Information ([piece of] information) → die Informationen (information)
die Kenntnis ([piece of] knowledge) → die Kenntnisse (knowledge)
die Nachricht ([piece of] news) → die Nachrichten (news)

Learn about how declensions (a.k.a. ‘endings’) change based on whether the noun is singular or plural.

Nouns with multiple plurals that mean different things

Similarly to those words that have double genders (e.g. der Leiter — leader, but die Leiter — ladder), there is a small group of words that have the same gender in the singular (so, the meaning is ambiguous) but then different plural forms.

For example, der Strauß means either ostrich OR bouquet, but the plurals are die Strauße (ostriches) and die Straüße (bouquet).

Other Examples:

die Bank — die Banken (banks), die Bänke (benches)
der Effekt — die Effekte (results), die Effekten (valuables)
die Mutter — die Mütter (mothers), die Muttern (nuts, for bolts)
das Wort — die Wörter (countable words, as in ‘there are many words in this article’), die Worte (collection of words, as in a saying or the phrase ‘thank you for your kind words’)

Main Takeaways

  1. There are 6 main types German plurals: -e, -(e)n, -er, -e + umlaut, -s, and no change.
  2. If you know the gender of the singular noun, you can accurately predict the correct plural about 80% of the time (<– very good reason to learn nouns with their genders!)
    1. Most masculine & neuter nouns take the -e plural (masculine nouns also take an umlaut about 50% of the time).
    2. Most feminine nouns take the -(e)n plural (a good 90% of the time).
  3. Certain suffixes (<– always on polysyllabic nouns) always* take the same plural, regardless of the noun’s gender:
    1. -nis, -ling, ig, -ich:-e plural
    2. tum: -er + umlaut plural
    3. -chen, -lein: no change
    4. -er*, -el*, -en: no change OR ‘no change’ plus an umlaut only
    5. -e -(e)n plural (but without doubling the ‘e’, of course)

      *feminine nouns ending with -er, or -el DO take the -(e)n plural (<– with no ‘e’)

  4. With these 4 hierarchical rules, you’ll have German plurals wrapped up!
    1. Suffixes are king! Most suffixes take the same plural regardless of what gender the singular nouns with those suffixes may have (see graphic above in Plurals According to Hierarchical Rules).
    2. If your noun doesn’t have a suffix you recognize, do you know if it’s a feminine noun or in reference to a male person? Then, give your noun the -(e)n plural!
    3. That doesn’t apply? Is your noun a monosyllable? Monosyllables default to the -e + umlaut plural. If you know the gender of your monosyllable and/or if it’s one on a list of monosyllables exceptions, you will have greater accuracy in picking the right plural form.
    4. Still not finding a match? Well, then default to putting the -e plural on your noun and you’ll probably be right! 😀

German Noun Plurals Study Tips

Of course, a lot of study tips have broad application regardless of the German grammar topic. So, you will see some overlap in my recommendations when you read multiple guides on my website.

To break it down for you for plurals specifically, here you go:

  • Always learn not only the gender of each new noun, but also the plural.

However, the smarter-not-harder way is to relate the gender AND plural form to the hard-and-fast rules (or, in some cases, guidelines) that I’ve spelled out for you here.

If you can better understand WHY the plural form is what it is, it will be easier to commit that information to memory.

For example, if you learn the word die Blume (flower) and its plural, die Blumen, you can reinforce either that the vast majority of feminine nouns take the -(e)n plural AND/OR the principle that polysyllabic nouns (regardless of gender) tend to take the -(e)n plural.

  • Think in colorful images for better retention.

Sticking with the same die Blume(n) example, when you practice this vocabulary word, invision purely BLUE flower(s) — even the usually green parts of the plant. This can help you more easily remember that the gender of Blume is feminine.

NOTE: I say BLUE just because that is the color that I randomly chose for myself when I first started learning German at age 14. Of course, you can pick whatever color for whatever gender that suits you!

  • Expose yourself to lots of authentic German materials.

The simplest way to learn a language is organically, by osmosis, without even realizing that you’re learning! That’s how we learned English as our native language, right?

So, watch German shows / movies (preferably undubbed, since it is confusing to hear sounds that don’t perfectly line up with the talking mouths), listen to German music, read German books (at your level, no matter how simple!).

Do this and you’ll be naturally exposed to German noun genders and plurals (since the two concepts are pretty intertwined, I mention both). You’ll pick up on proper forms without knowing it, without really trying to. It’s a nice way to learn!

As a fringe benefit, you’ll also be improving your pronunciation and/or accent (just by listening to authentic spoken German) and otherwise building a subconscious framework for proper German usage. Learn language within context is huge!

  • Create your own German dictionary.

Keep a little notebook in which you record new German words. You can devise your own methods for regularly reviewing and practicing (or read my other study tips! I get into details elsewhere!)

Beyond including basic categories for parts of speech –nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. — consider breaking things down into subcategories.

For nouns, specifically, then, I recommend you reserve several pages of your nouns section for each of the 6 regular plural forms and a 7th for the -s plural form. View the 6 regular forms again here.

Then, using a different colored pen (for whatever color you’re associating with each of the 3 genders), record each new noun under the plural form that it takes.

For example, check out which plural form sections these nouns would be recorded:

Hund → -e plural form

Katze → -(e)n plural form

Sofa → -s plural form


Bonus: if you color-code your noun entries, you don’t need to write der, die, or das each time. Gender info is included in the color — handy!