What is the German “n Declension”?

What is the "n Declension" in German?

There is almost no declension of the nouns left in German. Apart from the opposition singular/plural there are only the endings “-n” in dative plural and the “-(e)s” in genitive singular masculine/neuter.

Nevertheless, these nouns are called “strong nouns” (meaning they change a lot) due to their plural form (with umlaut) and the genitive -s.

The n declension is easier! 😉

First rule: The n declension includes only masculine nouns.

Second rule: The nouns of this group (called “weak declension”) add only “-(e)n” in all the cases both in singular and plural except for the nominative singular.

1. Endings of the n declension

  • If the noun ends in -e it adds only -n.
  • If it ends in a consonant it adds -en,
  • exceptions: Bauer/Nachbar add only -n, and Herr adds -n in singular and -en in plural.
Kasus & Numerus„Junge“„Mensch“
Nominativ Singularder Jungeder Mensch
Akkusativ Singularden Jungenden Menschen
Dativ Singulardem Jungendem Menschen
Genitiv Singulardes Jungendes Menschen
Nominativ Pluraldie Jungendie Menschen
Akkusativ Pluraldie Jungendie Menschen
Dativ Pluralden Jungenden Menschen
Genitiv Pluralder Jungender Menschen

2. Which nouns belong to this group

  • All masculine beings (i.e. with the article der) that finish in -e: Junge, Kollege, Kunde, Neffe, Hirte, Jude, Bote, Affe, Hase, Löwe, Ochse, Drache including masculine nationalities with -e: Türke, Russe, Grieche, Ire, Finne, Tscheche, Pole, Slowake, Rumäne … (and also: Bayer, Ungar).
  • Other masculine beings: Mensch, Nachbar, Held, Bauer, Christ, Graf, Bär, Fink, Spatz.
  • Professions and other designations for male beings that finish in: -ant, -and, -ent, -ist, -at, -ad, -af, -loge (and also: Architekt, Philosoph, Zar, Katholik, Poet, Chirurg) as well as some objects with the same endings: Automat, Diamant, Telegraf, Planet, Komet, Satellit.
  • Notice that the Latin ending –or does not belong to the n declension!

Examples

  • Wer ist dieser Junge? — Ich kenne den Jungen nicht.
  • Ich sehe den Rezeptzionisten am Telefon.
  • Da ist ein Bär! Hast du den Bären gesehen?
  • Wo finde ich einen Bankautomaten?
  • Ich suche einen Fotografen.
  • Sie spricht mit keinem Menschen.
  • Helga bewundert einen großen Elefanten.

Exceptions

There are 7 masculine nouns that belong to the n declension but they add the genitive -s to their normal -n ending: Name, Buchstabe, Friede, Glaube, Wille, Gedanke, Funke.

  • Wie schreibt man den Namen?
  • Ich mag die Form dieses Buchstabens.
  • Dies ist ein Symbol des Friedens.
  • Ich glaube, das ist eine Frage des Glaubens.

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