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Weak nouns are certain masculine nouns that, when used in the accusative or dative case, not only show a change in article from

  • der  den  dem
  • ein  einen  einem

but also themselves change by adding -(e)n to their base form:

  • der Affe  den Affen dem Affen
  • der Elefant  den Elefanten,  dem Elefanten

These weak nouns will look identical in form to the plural; only the article will enable you to tell them apart:

  • den Affen (sing.) vs. die Affen (pl.)
  • We've seen this confusion happen before with other singular vs. plural forms: 
    • das Mädchen (sing.) vs. die Mädchen (pl.)
  • NOTE: der Herr becomes den/dem Herrn, but the plural is die Herren.

Usage Example:

  • du: "Das ist ein Bär."  (simple identification: "That is a bear.")
  • ich: "Was?  Ich sehe keinen Bären."  (direct object: "What?  I see no bear.")
  • du: "Der Bär ist da im Baum.  Du stehst direkt unter dem Bären." (subject and preposition with dative: "The bear is in the tree there.  You're standing directly under the bear."


Recognizing Weak Nouns

  • Masculine nouns often refer to people (occupations, nationalities, especially of foreign origin) and animals, but not every masculine gender person or animal is a weak noun.
  • Masculine nouns with the following endings are weak nouns:
    • -e (der Junge)
    • -ant (der Elefant)
    • -ist (der Tourist)
    • -ent (der Präsident, but not der Moment)
    • -at (der Automat) 


Master List of Weak Nouns for German One

  • der Affe = monkey, ape
    • den/dem/die Affen 
  • der Bär = bear
    • den/dem/die Bären 
  • der Eisbär = polar bear
    • den/dem/die Eisbären 
  • der Löwe = lion
    • den/dem/die Löwen 
  • der Junge = boy
    • den/dem/die Jungen 
  • der Herr = mister, lord
    • accusative is den Herrn
    • dative is dem Herrn 
    • plural is die Herren
  • der Mensch = person, human being
    • den/dem/die Menschen 
  • der Elefant = elephant
    • den/dem/die Elefanten
  • der Prinz = prince
    • den/dem/die Prinzen 
  • der Hirte = shepherd
    • den/dem/die Hirten 
  • der Automat = automat
    • den/dem/die Automaten 
  • der Geldautomat = ATM
    • den/dem/die Geldautomaten 
  • der Blumenautomat = automated flower dispenser
    • den/dem/die Blumenautomaten
  • der Neffe = nephew
    • den/dem/die Neffen 
  • der Pirat = pirate
    • den/dem/die Piraten
  • der Präsident = president
    • den/dem/die Präsidenten
  • der Idiot = idiot
    • den/dem/die Idioten
  • der Riese = giant
    • den/dem/die Riesen
  • der Gigant = giant
    • den/dem/die Giganten 
  • der Produzent = producer
    • den/dem/die Produzenten 
  • der Diamant = diamond
    • den/dem/die Diamanten
  • der Fotograf = photographer
    • den/dem/die Fotografen 
  • der Meteorit = meteorite
    • den/dem/die Meteoriten
  • der Polizist = police officer
    • den/dem/die Polizisten
  • der Pilot = pilot
    • den/dem/die Piloten
  • der Hase = hare
    • den/dem/die Hasen
  • der Bauer = peasant, farmer
    • den/dem/die Bauern 



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