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For example:

Große Bäume

but

Die großen Bäume

or

Lange Leitungen

but

Die langen Leitungen

Why is the an n at the end if there is "Die" in front of it? Both are plural and both are nominative, right? What's the difference?

marked as duplicate by Carsten S, Janka, peterh says reinstate Monica, PiedPiper, Robert Oct 10 '18 at 23:26

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So you're describing the situation between having an article and not in the plural. Case is used to show different parts of speech clearly. If you remember that when you have the feminine article "die", this is always followed by the "-e" ending. To create a distinction, the "-en" came about to show that it isn't feminine singular - to add more clarity in exactly what is being said. The reason it doesn't have this without an article is so that there are options to demonstrate cases like the dative and genitive clearly.

Long story: To create more distinction between cases and singular/plural

Short story: Because it is how German has developed.

  • Can you cite to any research to back this up or is this your personal theory? It sounds implausible. As far as I'm aware, it has never been the case that the weak nom. pl. fem. had the same ending as the weak nom. sg. fem. The weak inflection type did not evolve from the strong type but strictly followed existing noun inflection paradigms. Therefore, the weak nom. pl. fem. and the weak nom. sg. fem. differ because they differed in the corresponding class of nouns. E.g. Gothic qinô "woman", pl. qinôns, and hence the weak nom. sg. fem. of blinda "blind" is blindô, pl. blindôns, etc. – johnl Oct 11 '18 at 6:14

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