The German noun

The noun Das Substantiv

The noun is a part of speech that names things, beings, phenomenons, notions and ideas. Nouns in german will always be written with upper case initials (the first letter of a substantive/noun is written with capital letter.)


Categories of nouns: - proper nouns (which define specifically the name of a being, phenomenom, notion or idea - they are usualy unique given names) 

> Examples: Köln (name of a city in Germany), Thomas (name of a person), die Dunau (name of a river), Rumänien (name of a country), die Relativitätstheorie (relativity theory) etc. 


- common nouns (which define a category of things of the same kind)

> Examples: der Fluss (theriver), die Stadt (the town), die Schule (the school), das Kind (the child), der Mann (the man) etc. 


- abstract nouns (caracterized particulary by the fact that they can't be counted)   

> Examples: die Gemütlichkeit (the comfort), die Klugheit (the smartness), der Lauf (the run), das Geweine (the crying), das Gelb (the yellow) etc. 


- colective nouns (naming a group of objects, persons, beings etc.) 

> Examples: die Jugend (the youth), das Volk (the nation), die Mannschaft (the team) etc. 


Remember: When a german noun is preceded by a definite article (der, die, or das) in english the noun will be translated with the article "the"

   Example: das Auto is translated with „the car” if we eliminate the article “das”, translation becomes “car”

  Other examples:

der Mann = the man

der Mann = man

die Frau = the woman

die Frau = woman

der Zug = the train

der Zug = train

German nouns have three genders: masculine, feminine si neuter.

The gender of the nouns can be determined by the articles that precede them. Therefore it is recommended to learn the nouns together with their articles.

Example: - Child = Kind, das (Substantiv, Neutrum)

"das Kind" is of neuter gender as indicated by the article "das"

There are three definite articles for each gender>

der - for masculine gender nouns

die - for feminine gender nouns

das - for neuter gender nouns

The article "die" defines plural nouns indifferently from their gender.

   Examples: die Tiere (the animals), die Steine (the rocks), die Kinder (the children) etc.

The gender of a noun in german is not the same with the gender of the same noun translated from english!

By composition nouns can be simple or compound.
> - simple nouns:  das Wasser (the water), der Lehrer (the teacher), der Baum (the tree), das Haus (the house), das Gebäude (the building) etc. 
- compound nouns (they form by adding more words together and can have in it's compositions other parts of speach like adjectives, numerals, verbs, adverbs):

The forming of compound nouns:

> das Mineralwasser


das Mineral


das Wasser

das Mineralwasser


(the mineral)


(the water)

(the mineral water)

> der Hauptlehrer


der Haupt


der Lehrer

das Hauptlehrer


(the main)


(the teacher)

(the main teacher)

> der Obstbaum


das Obst


der Baum

der Obstbaum


(the fruit)


(the tree)

(the fruit tree)

> das Rathaus 


der Rat


das Haus

das Rathaus


(the council)


(the house)

(the council house, the town hall)


Note that in english we use two or more separate words to express the same word in german.

   other examples:
> der Rat + das Haus + der Platz becomes der Rathausplatz (the town hall place/park)
 (the council)   (house) (the place)
> die Kranken + das Haus becomes das Krankenhaus  (the hospital, house of the sick)
(the sick)   (the house)
> das Leben + das Mittel + der Laden becomes der Lebensmittelladen (the grocery store)
(the life)  (environment)  (the store)

Remember: The gender of a compound noun is determined by the last noun of the compound word!