I'm a bit confused. For dative plural, nouns end with n, the adjective ends in en, and the definite article is den.

So, for example: Der Junge lernt von DEN neuEN BücherN (the boy learns about the new books).

But, in the following example, the noun ends in s: Der Junge lernt von DEN neuEN AutoS (the boy learns about the new cars).

Why does das Auto end in S instead of N, as per the default rule? I'm assuming because das Auto ends with the "o" vowel, but I can't find any rules about this.

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    If you use the long form Automobil it's consistent again: Der Junge lernt von den neuen Automobilen. – πάντα ῥεῖ Mar 4 '18 at 14:17
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    Even if you'll find a rule, each rule may have it's irregular exceptions. – πάντα ῥεῖ Mar 4 '18 at 16:00
  • Forget about rules. Learn using the language. - Or in milder words: rules are only sticks to help you slowly walk; but you walk better without a stick. Or more concretely: don't learn rules about case endings - learn [= memorize = get used to] the endings for each word and use them. Nobody who uses a language fluently is aware of "rules" while speaking; one simply knows the proper form 'by heart'. – Christian Geiselmann Mar 4 '18 at 23:03
  • I get told and read this advice a lot, but I have trouble understanding how it can be applied to German, since getting the wrong ending or case can change the meaning of a sentence. I understand that it's useful to get a feel for a language and familiarizing yourself enough with it to the point where it just feels comfortable and more natural, but I still feel like you need some understanding of grammar when it comes to German. You're right about fluency as I don't think of these rules with English (it's my first lang), but I still took English classes all my life and learned rules. – user9405683 Mar 5 '18 at 10:06

Articles, adjectives and nouns have different declination tables. You have to learn them separate from each other. Nouns also have a different declination depending on their nominative singular ending and gender.

There are a lot of words with vowel endings that are shortcuts of other words in reality, e.g.

der Pullover → der Pulli, die Pullis

der Kriminalroman → der Krimi, die Krimis

das Automobil → das Auto, die Autos

die Fotografie → das Foto, die Fotos

der Rolladen → das Rollo, die Rollos

der Akkumulator → der Akku, die Akkus

die Dokumentation → die Doku, die Dokus

(Please note the word sometimes even change the gender in the process.)

If those shortcuts end in -i, -o, -u, they follow the declination of words ending in -a, which are all loan words:

die Kamera, die Kameras

That's the same for shortcuts ending in -a:

das Motorfahrrad → das/die Mofa, die Mofas.

For the -e ending, the normal declination of words ending in -e is used.

das Pennal → die Penne, die Pennen

Shortcuts ending in -a and -e are very uncommon.

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