Plural forms of nouns

Most nouns can be either singular or plural. The plural indicates that you're talking about several units of the same thing.

Ist das Bett zu hart? – Sind die Betten zu hart?

The definite article in the nominative and the accusative is always "die" in all three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. The indefinite article is omitted.

Ich mache einen Test. – Ich mache _ Tests.

The negative article in the nominative and the accusative is "keine".

Haben Sie ein Zimmer? – Nein, wir haben keine Zimmer.

There are altogether five different endings to form the plural:

       Singular       Plural
-n oder -en:   das Bett   die Betten
    der Name   die Namen
-e:   der Arm   die Arme
-er:   das Kind   die Kinder
-s:   das Sofa   die Sofas


Some nouns stay the same in both the plural and the singular.

das Zimmer die Zimmer (endungslos)

In such cases, the definite article "die" or the use of a determiner indicating number or amount - such as "zwei" (two), "viele" (many), or "mehrere" (several) - help to identify the plural.

Wir haben ein Zimmer. – Wir haben viele Zimmer im Hotel.


Memorize it!

It is very hard to list all the rules that determine which plural endings go with which nouns - and it's even harder to remember them all and use them. The best way is to always learn the nouns along with their article and plural form.

The vocabulary list will also help you. Each noun is listed along with its article and plural ending. The entries look like this:

Bett (das); -en
So the plural of "Bett" is formed with the ending -en: die Betten.

Fernseher (der); -
The plural of "Fernseher" is formed without an ending (-): die Fernseher.


In many cases, turning a noun into the plural requires not only adding an ending, but also changing a stem vowel to an umlaut: a becomes ä, o becomes ö or u becomes ü. Sometimes an umlaut change is the only indication of the plural.

Singular        Plural
die Hand   die Hände
der Fuß   die Füße
die Tochter   die Töchter


Note that with some words, the final consonant is doubled before the plural ending is attached. This doesn't happen often and affects mainly words that end with -nis and -in. But it applies to most female forms of describing people because they often have -in at the end:

Masculine         Plural         Feminine         Plural
der Freund   die Freunde   die Freundin   die Freundin-n-en
der Verkäufer   die Verkäufer   die Verkäuferin   die Verkäuferin-n-en