What's the difference between "Plural" and "Mehrzahl" (and "Singular"/"Einzahl")? The dictionaries I've seen don't give much detail, except that Mehrzahl might be less common.

  • 1
    "Plural" is the grammatical terminology. Mehrzahl means most likely "plural", but I never heard it in a grammatical context. I think it might be some similar like "Zukunft" (future) or "futur" (grammatical term).
    – peterh
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


Plural is a Latin term, die Mehrzahl is the equivalent German term.

However, this only applies when discussing grammar, as the noun die Mehrzahl has other uses as well.

In der Mehrzahl der Fälle verlaufen Infektionen mild.

It means majority then. You cannot use Plural in those cases. The counter term is die Minderzahl, as opposed to die Einzahl when discussing the singular grammar term.

  • Thanks! Which style would be more useful in the context of e.g. a grammar book?
    – rlms
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 23:04
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    The Latin terms because they aren't used in other contexts. Some people disagreed in the past as pupils had been required to learn Latin to understand German grammar, but duh! it's just random names, who cares if this was Latin or Moonspeak?
    – Janka
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 23:13
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    Similarly, we use either teh German term Hauptwort for noun, or the latin Nomen or the latin Substantiv; for verb, we either use latin Verb or German Tuwort or German Zeitwort. If you live through several phases of different didactical philosphies, this may become confusing ... I suppose that this abundance of differnt terms for the same also leads to many people confusing related terms between word types and parts of speech and think these are just one more name for the same thing (e.g., they may think Adjektiv = Attiribut, Verb = Prädikat, ...) Commented May 11, 2019 at 13:10
  • To specifically talk about the non-grammatical meaning, Mehrheit can be used to mean only "majority", and never "plural" (you could say in der Mehrheit der Fälle). Commented May 13, 2019 at 7:43

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