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I know that "Bier" is a neutral noun in German (das Bier), so the adjective groß becomes großes. But how does this change for two beers? (In plural). Zwei großen Bier? Is this correct?

Additionally, why is it okay to leave the noun in singular form even though we're saying zwei? (E.g. I hear often zwei Bier, bitte).

Any references for learning the grammar at play here would be much appreciated.

  • 1
    This is where German shows its efficiency: »Zwei große Bier, bitte!« – dakab Mar 28 '17 at 19:48
  • Units of measurement are usually kept in singular, even when there are several: "2 Meter", "5 Kilogramm", "1800 Watt". There are exceptions of course (e. g. units of time, "Tonne(n)"). But I'm not sure "Bier" can be considered a unit here, so I leave this as a comment. But you could technically say "1 kurzer Meter" and "2 kurze Meter", where the adjective changes but the unit does not. – Raketenolli Apr 10 '17 at 8:57
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It is

Zwei/drei/... große Bier bitte.

Bier has here the function of a mass noun, meaning it stands for a substance, where the distinction of singular and plural is not overly useful. If you feel still uncomfortable, you can think

Zwei große [Gläser] Bier, bitte

instead, since the beer is unlikely to get better / greater or whatever depending on the glass size.

Note, that it does not depend on the beverage, also Wasser, Orangensaft or Milch (quite difficult to find a plural form) would be left as singular.

  • Deine Erklärung ist an den Haaren herbeigezogen. Wenn sie richtig wäre, müsste man „zwei Große Bier“ schreiben. – Carsten S Mar 28 '17 at 19:36
  • Thanks a lot. So this is not a general rule right? As in it only applies to liquids. So for example for books, one would say zwei schwarze bücher and not buch, right? – user26374 Mar 31 '17 at 11:27
  • @user929304: Yes, as soon as you have something you can count, singular and plural apply as usual and there is no need to apply the mass noun special rule. – guidot Mar 31 '17 at 13:11
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In your case it is

Zwei große Bier, bitte.

The plural of Bier is Biere, but if you use Biere you normally mean two different beers (e.g. from different breweries or different types of beer).

It is difficult to make a plural of a liquid. If you say one beer it is not clear how much it is. It could be a small glass/bottle or a big one. So it does not make sense to create a plural of a liquid . If you order two beer, you don't count the beer, but the glasses or bottles.

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I believe it would still be "zwei großes Bier" as beverages like beer in German are normally left in the singular when talking about quantity. Plural is used when talking about different kinds of beer.

If this is not culturally correct, please correct me.

  • 2
    Not quite right, großes has to be set into plural form, giving große. – guidot Mar 28 '17 at 19:37
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    "Zwei große Bier(e), 2 starke Kaffee(s), 2 O-Saft, 2 eiskalte Apfelsaft, ..." - jedenfalls nicht "2 großes Bier". "2 Mal großes Bier" dagegen wäre wieder richtig. Spaßeshalber auch Imbisdeutsch ansehen: ardmediathek.de/tv/extra-3/Extra-3-Classix-Imbiss-Deutsch/… (Ich bin das Schaschlik, er war die Pommes). – user unknown Mar 28 '17 at 20:16

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