Weak Nouns in German and Why They Are Special

My female readers won’t be surprised to learn that weakness in German grammar is a masculine trait 😉. So-called weak nouns are a group of masculine nouns that follow the special n-declination in all cases but the nominative singular. So in addition to the articles, the nouns change as well and end on a -n or -en.


Singular

der Junge (Nominativ)

den Jungen (Akkusativ)

dem Jungen (Dativ)

des Jungen (Genitiv)


Plural

die Jungen

die Jungen

den Jungen

der Jungen


Other weak nouns ending on -e in the Nominativ are:


der Neffe,

der Kunde,

der Kollege,

der Name,

der Löwe,


and nationalities ending on -e, e.g.

der Deutsche,

der Franzose,

der Pole,

der Chinese,

der Däne

der Russe

der Portugiese


However, not all weak nouns and on -e. Some common nouns with other endings in the nominative are:


der Held

der Nachbar

der Hase

der Affe

der Elefant

der Franzose

der Polizist,

der Assistent,

der Philosoph,

der Astronom,

der Student

der Mensch

der Herr


Their declination is the same as Junge, though.


e.g. der Nachbar

den Nachbarn

dem Nachbarn

des Nachbarn etc.


der Herr

den Herrn

dem Herrn

des Herrn etc.


Since there is no clear rule that would allow you to identify weak nouns, it's best to memorise them. The only rule of thumb that I usually teach my students is that when a noun ends on -e and is masculine rather than feminine, it is normally a weak noun. Learn more about German gender rules and the cases in German on our blog.


There you will find many posts on German grammar- ranging from adjective ending rules in German to German word order. We also have articles on the most common words and phrases in German, a comparison between online dictionaries like Linguee, dict.cc, dict.leo and Collins, and a review of the apps Duolingo, Memrise, Babbel, Busuu, and Quizlet. So check out our blog to learn more about the German language.

Find out more about our German lessons in London and our German courses here.




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