eg: die Katze (the cat), die Blume (the flower), die Liebe (the love) - but: der Bote (the delivery boy).
Nouns ending in the following suffixes: -heit, -keit, -tät, -ung, -ik, -schaft, are also feminine.
eg: eine Freiheit (a freedom), eine Zeitung (a newspaper), eine Freundschaft (a friendship)
|Nom:||der Tisch||die Tische|
|Gen:||des Tisch(e)s||der Tische|
|Dat:||dem Tisch(e)||den Tischen|
|Acc:||den Tisch||die Tische|
Contrary to strongly inflected languages like Latin or Lithuanian, German expresses cases more through the word's article than the ending of the word, quite comparable to Ancient Greek, though especially the difference between plural and singular is also expressed by suffixes on the words' endings (der Tisch, die Tische). Other exceptions of a suffix expressing the case of a noun along with the article are the forms of genitive singular and dative plural. Yet one could still say that transferring the case-information to the article preserved the German case-system throughout its development from Old High German to contemporary German.
A German book called Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod ("Dative is for Genitive its death") alludes to this phenomenon (being called "genitive's death struggle" by the author) in its title. In standard German, the title would be "Der Dativ ist der Tod des Genitivs" ("Dative is Genitive's Death"). As is apparent, the book uses the modern, casual way of speaking by employing the dative case instead of the genitive to poke fun at what the author perceives as a decline in the German language, since in written German a dative construction replacing the genitive is still considered a major error.
|Accusative||Dative||Genitive||Accusative or Dative|
|Masculine nominative singular||Feminine dative singular|
|definite article||der schöne Mann||vor der verschlossenen Tür|
|indefinite article||ein schöner Mann||vor einer verschlossenen Tür|
|no article||schöner Mann||vor verschlossener Tür|
The German language has twelve different ways of forming the plural. A student of German as a foreign language must learn the plural for each new noun learned; although a great many feminine nouns are very regular in the formation of the plural, many masculine and neuter nouns are not. For example, some plurals are formed with an "n", some with "en", some with an umlaut and an "e" or an umlaut and an "en", other plurals are the same as the singular, some add "er" or an umlaut and "er", etc.
A German nominal phrase, in general, consists of the following components in the following order:
article, number (cardinal or ordinal), adjective(s), noun, genitive attribute, position(s), relative clause reflexive pronoun
(the third stunning performance of the drama by Schiller this week in Hamburg)
Of course, most noun phrases are not this complicated; adjectives, numbers, genitive attributes, positions, relative clauses and emphasizers are always optional.
A nominal phrase contains at least a cardinal number, an adjective, a pronoun, or a noun. It always has an article, except if it is an indefinite plural noun or refers to an uncountable mass.
If the noun is uncountable, an article is not used; otherwise, the meaning of the sentence changes.
A nominal phrase can be regarded a single unit. It has a case, a number, and a gender. Case and number depend on the context, whereas the gender is determined by the main noun.
A direct translation of "Der Beruf des alten Mannes" would be "the profession of the old man." "The old man's professions" could be translated directly and correct as "Des alten Mannes Beruf", though this form is almost never used in modern German.
In early high German, the genitive attribute can consist of a personal pronoun in its genitive case. In modern German, this is no longer used; the corresponding possessive pronoun is used instead.
Unlike English, German permits lengthy nominal modifiers such as
"Der während des Bürgerkrieges amtierende Premierminister" (The acting Prime Minister during the civil war, literally:the during the civil war holding-office prime minister) or "Die noch zu Anfang des Kurses relativ kleinen, aber doch merklichen Verständigungsschwierigkeiten" (literally: The still at the beginning of the course relatively small but nevertheless noticeable difficulties in communication).
These are a feature of written (particularly educated) German. One hears them in the context of formal oral communications as well (such as news broadcasts, speeches, etc.).
Aside from their highly inflected forms, German relative pronouns are less complicated than English. There are two varieties. The more common one is based on the definite article der, die, das, but with distinctive forms in the genitive (dessen, deren) and in the dative plural (denen). Historically this is related to English that. The second, which is more literary and used for emphasis, is the relative use of welcher, welche, welches, comparable with English which. As in most Germanic languages, including Old English, both of these inflect according to gender, case and number. They take their gender and number from the noun they modify, but the case from their function in their own clause.
The relative pronoun dem is neuter singular to agree with Haus, but dative because it follows a preposition in its own clause. On the same basis, it would be possible to substitute the pronoun welchem.
However, German uses the uninflecting was ('what') as a relative pronoun when the antecedent is alles, etwas or nichts ('everything', 'something', 'nothing'.).
In German, all relative clauses are marked with commas.
A German noun has one of three specific grammatical genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) and belongs to one of three declensions. These features remain unaltered by inflection but must be considered in this process. The grammatical gender influences articles, adjectives and pronouns. Note that gender and sex differ in many cases, as mentioned above.
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.
The inflected forms depend on the number, the case and the gender of the corresponding noun. Articles have the same plural forms for all three genders.
If you use a cardinal number, you must use the plural form of the nominal phrase, in contrast to languages like Turkish.
Whereas there is a cardinal number meaning "one" in English, Germans use the indefinite article instead. The difference is expressed by the intonation.
The numbers zwei (two) and drei (three) have endings for case in some cases. Where an adjective would have weak endings, numbers don't have endings. If an adjective had strong endings, these numbers may also have strong endings in the genitive case
If there is no other word carrying the strong ending of the genitive plural, the numbers must carry it.
If these numbers are centre of a nominal phrase in the dative plural and no other word carries case markers, they may carry dative endings.
Special case for 'eins' in German: It can be represented as : "eins", "eine", "einer", "eines", "einem" or "einen" depending on the sentence. This is because in German, 'eins' means one, while 'ein' (as in "Das ist ein Buch") is the German equivalent of the English word "a" ("This is a book").
To correctly agree German adjectives, the case, number and gender of the nominal phrase must be considered along with the article of the noun. German adjectives normally go before the noun which they are changing. German adjectives have an ending before the noun. The ending is normally the letter "-e" in the singular form and "-en" in the plural form.
Like articles, adjectives use the same plural endings for all three genders.
Participles may be used as adjectives and are treated in the same way.
In contrast to Romance languages, adjectives are only declined in the attributive position (that is, when used in nominal phrases to describe a noun directly). Predicative adjectives, separated from the noun by "to be", for example, are not declined and are indistinguishable from adverbs.
German pronouns of the first person refer to the speaker; those of the second person refer to an addressed person. The pronouns of the third person may be used to replace nominal phrases. These have the same gender, number and case as the original nominal phrase. This goes for other pronouns, too.
pronoun [position(s)] [relative clause]
|1st sg||2nd sg||3rd sg||1st pl||2nd pl||3rd pl||2nd formal|
German verbs may be classified as either weak, with a dental consonant inflection, or strong, showing a vowel gradation (ablaut). Both of these are regular systems. Most verbs of both types are regular, though various subgroups and anomalies do arise. The only completely irregular verb in the language is "sein" (to be). However, textbooks for foreign learners often class all strong verbs as irregular. There are fewer than 200 strong and irregular verbs, and there is a gradual tendency for strong verbs to become weak.
Modal particles (Abtönungspartikel) are a part of speech used frequently in spoken German. These words affect the tone of a sentence instead of conveying a specific literal meaning. Typical examples of this kind of word in German are doch, mal, halt, eben, nun, schon, eh or ja. Many of these words also have a more basic, specific meaning (e.g. ja "yes", schon "already"), but in their modal use this meaning is not directly expressed.
German sentence structure is somewhat more complex than in other languages, with phrases regularly inverted for both questions and subordinate phrases.