This question nouns refers to nouns that are forms of verbs in English, or their equivalents in German.

Some examples are:

abholen: Abholung
anfangen: Anfang
aufnehmen: Aufnahme

The first one ends with -ung, and the second one ends with -ng, using its own "a," rather than a "u," as a vowel. That much I understand.

But the third ending "nahme," deviates significantly from the other two. If it followed the "pattern," it would be something like "aufnehmung," or "aufneng," but that's not the case.

Why is that? Is that for purposes of "assimilation?" Could it have to do with the "h" in "nehmen?" Is that the only deviation, or are there others that I haven't thought of?

  • Not all nouns that have similar forms of verbs have been derived from them. Sometimes, the verb may have been derived from the noun or the noun and the verb co-evolved in parallel.
    – Jan
    Nov 24, 2016 at 16:05
  • @Jan: That's a good comment. If you could provide some examples of " the verb may have been derived from the noun or the noun and the verb co-evolved in parallel," that would make an excellent answer.
    – Tom Au
    Nov 24, 2016 at 19:00
  • Here, two links where the derivation fromverbs to nouns is described. There is more than just one rule: canoo.net/services/WordformationRules/Derivation/To-N/V-To-N/… canoo.net/services/WordformationRules/Derivation/To-N/V-To-N/…
    – Iris
    Nov 25, 2016 at 13:02
  • 3
    Your question could be understood to claim "German has a gerund" (I know you didn't say this). Just to clear this up: No, it hasn't. And you probably shouldn't assume the "-ung" substantiation ending in German is in any way related to the "-ing" gerund ending in English. This might lead you onto wrong tracks.
    – tofro
    Nov 26, 2016 at 9:49
  • 1
    Alliteration (Stabreim in German) is something completely different: A group of words that begin with the same consonant, e.g. "Manner mag man eben". You probably meant assimilation, which is changing letters to make pronouncing words more convenient.
    – idmean
    Nov 27, 2016 at 20:27

3 Answers 3


These words are not gerunds, they are nouns. Verbs can be turned into nouns in several ways. To a certain extent, you will need to simply learn the noun forms by heart, but the various endings tend to carry a certain meaning. For example

nouns ending in -ung usually express an occurrence or a process always feminine verbinden - die Verbindung, entwickeln - die Entwicklung

Infinitives with 'das' usually express an action always neuter lernen - das Lernen, leben - das Leben

ending in -ion or -tion usually for foreign words always feminine diskutieren - die Diskussion, organisieren - die Organisation


There is no gerundium in German. A gerundium is a verb form, while these words you gave are nouns made from verbs or share the same root as a verb.

I've answered a similar question recently.

  • This question was actually inspired by the other one. But mine is, why is the Aufnahme form so different from the other two. Is there a rule governing the other two that makes Aufnahme an exception? Or is there even a scenario where Aufnahme is considered a more pronounceable form of "Aufnehmung."
    – Tom Au
    Nov 24, 2016 at 18:56
  • 2
    No. Aufnehmung doesn't exist. Neither does Backung exist nor Backe is a form of backen. Aufnahme isn't a form of the verb but a noun independent from it. It just happens to share the same word stem. There are some general hints how to find out or even make up a noun related to a verb (as I wrote in the other post) with the desired meaning or function but no strict rule you could follow.
    – Janka
    Nov 24, 2016 at 19:12
  • But "Ausnehmung" does exist as a technical term in mechanics, while it's not an "Ausnahme"
    – tofro
    Dec 5, 2016 at 6:55
  • @tofro, typischer wäre aber «Aussparung». Auf den Artikel verweist zumindest der Duden, wenn man nach «Ausnehmung» sucht.
    – Iris
    Dec 5, 2016 at 13:45
  • @iris Stimmt. Aber: Der Duden ist leider keine sehr gute Referenz für technische Fachbegriffe
    – tofro
    Dec 5, 2016 at 17:59

As stated in the comment: Not EVERY noun in Germany can be built by just adding an "ung" to it. Already your conclusion regarding your second example is wrong.

If it was the gerund form ,it would be something in the line of "Anfangung".

The rule that every verb has a gerund form that can be derived from its verb by adding "ung" is simply wrong.

Nothing more to say...

  • I would guess this is true of "most," probably not all. Perhaps "anfangen/Anfang" is an exception, as you state. Then the question is, what is the exception and what is the rule?
    – Tom Au
    Nov 24, 2016 at 18:58
  • 2
    @Tom Au, I would estimate that the majority of nouns is constructed without adding an "ung". And I think there are several rules how nouns are built, so it is wrong to think of one rule and exceptions.
    – Iris
    Nov 25, 2016 at 12:15

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