Definition - Nouns are 'names' we use to
identify people, things, places, or ideas.
Examples of German nouns are:
Koffer [suitcase], Firma [company], Buch [book],
Österreich [Austria], Dank [thank-you], ...
Note: in German all nouns are written with an initial capital letter.
Types - Nouns can be of many different
Proper nouns are names of specific people, things, locations, or ideas:
die Vereinten Nationen [the United Nations], Wien [Vienna],
Kommunismus [Communism], ...
Common nouns are names of general 'categories' of people, objects, places,
Organisation [organisation], Stadt [town], Schönheit
Countable nouns are names of anything that can be counted:
ein Koffer [one
suitcase], drei Bücher [three books], vielen Dank [many
Uncountable nouns name what cannot be counted:
Wein [wine], Luft [air], Wasser [water], ...
Note: some nouns can be used as countable or uncountable depending on
what we want to say.
Examples of uncountable nouns:
ist gut. [German beer is good.]
Das ist Kaffee.
[This is coffee.]
Examples of uncountable nouns used with a 'countable meaning':
kosten zwei Euro. [Four beers -- glasses/cans/bottles/... of beer
-- cost two Euros.]
Ich trinke einen
Kaffee. [I drink a coffee -- cup of coffee.]
Collective nouns refer to a group made up of more than one person or
Familie [family], Obst [fruit], Herde [herd], ...
Gender - Some languages divide nouns according
to gender. In German there are three genders: masculine, feminine, and
This concept is not easy to understand for speakers of languages that
do not have genders, especially because the genders of nouns do not follow
a clear logic. Some nouns that name masculine people or things are masculine,
but others are feminine or neuters. Trying to 'reason' about the gender
of a noun is not very helpful. The best is to simply learn the gender
of the nouns by learning other words that indicate gender, for instance
Examples of German nouns divided by gender:
Masculine - der
Koffer [the suitcase], der Dank
[the thank-you], der Wein [the
Feminine - die
Briefmarke [the stamp], die Schönheit
[the beauty], die Luft [the air]
Neuter - das Buch
[the book], das Land [the country],
das Wasser [the water], das Obst
Number - Most nouns have a singular and
a plural form. Singular refers to one (only one person, thing, or 'group'),
while plural refers to more than one.
Examples of singular and plural form:
Singular - ein
Junge [one boy], eine Firma
[a company], ein Land [a country]
Plural - zwei Jungen
[two boys], hundert Firmen [hundred
companies], viele Länder [many