I’m an absolute beginner. I was reading a chapter on the dative case in this book called German Basic Grammar by Routledge. I think in the following example of a sentence with two dative nouns, dem Jungen is wrong, at least according to the rule the book gives.

Ich helfe dem Jungen mit seinem Mantel. I help the boy with his coat. (Unit 13, P. 72)

I think it should be either dem Junge (singular) or den Jungen (plural). Am I right?

I know this is a very basic question, but I have less than a month exposure to German language, and it is frustrating when you doubt the book teaching you.

  • Sorry, I fail to understand your question. The example sentence is perfectly fine. – Jan Nov 12 '16 at 11:48
  • In which region do they say "dem Junge"? I've never heard it. I only know " dem Jungen". – Iris Nov 14 '16 at 15:28

"den Jungen" (plural)

Correct. "den Jungen" would be plural.

"dem Junge" (singular)

Indeed here in Germany you'll find both speakers saying "dem Junge" and speakers saying "dem Jungen".

However "dem Jungen" seems to be the "official" form used by the majority of speakers while "dem Junge" seems to be an inofficial form only used by a minority.

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  • Official and inofficial? I would call it correct and wrong.... – Iris Nov 14 '16 at 8:16
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    @Iris A BVerfG-Urteil (supreme court verdict) from 1998 decided who is allowed to define what is "correct German" for schools and administration. The verdict can be interpreted in a way that "correct German" is not defined outside schools and administration. With douzends of German dialects existing (some even having a different grammar than Hochdeutsch) I would not call anything "wrong German" which is used by a large group of native speakers. And I think this applies to both "dem Junge" as well as "dem Jungen". – Martin Rosenau Nov 14 '16 at 15:14
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    but in a essay in school it would be marked as a mistake, right? – Iris Nov 14 '16 at 15:27
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    In school I would definitely use "dem Jungen". However I don't know if "dem Junge" would be marked as mistake. At least here in BaWü (southern Germany) there are some words which are not "official" but not allowed (!) to be marked as mistake either. (I know from my time in school 20 years ago.) – Martin Rosenau Nov 14 '16 at 15:41
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    @Iris Yesterday I met a person who teaches German at school. That person told me that "dem Junge" currently would be marked as mistake in schools so you'll have to use "dem Jungen" in school. – Martin Rosenau Nov 16 '16 at 5:58

There are singular, masculine nouns which take the suffix -n or -en in the dative as well as the accusative case.They are called "Weak nouns".

Hast du ihm schon einen Namen gegeben?

which means "Have you given it a name already?"

Most masculine singular nouns that end with -e are subject to this declension, and most of these happen to be of Latin origin: (for example: Kollege).

This will help you: http://germanforenglishspeakers.com/nouns/weak-nouns-the-n-declension/

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