I found a sentence in the exercise of Langenscheidt German Grammar book:

  1. Frau Radwan faehrt heute mit ihrem Kollegen nach Hamburg.
  2. Herr Hundt hat einen neuen Kollegen.

But "Kollegen" is plural form of "der Kollege". It should be "mit ihren Kollegen" and "hat neue Kollegen", isn't it?

  • 3
    Kollegen is not only plural of Kollege, it's also dative or genitive singular. That's the case here, which you can get from "ihrem" (plural would be "ihren"). In the second example you can tell it's only one coworker because of "einen".
    – Robert
    Jun 28 '19 at 3:12
  • 1
    @Robert: That's an answer, not a comment, isn't it? Jun 28 '19 at 3:18
  • @Robert. Thanks! I looked it up further here duden.de/rechtschreibung/Kollege : The confusing part is that for "Kollege", the genitive, akkusative and dative are all "Kollegen", which the same with plural form... Such a confusing word.
    – Shrinetown
    Jun 28 '19 at 3:57
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    Actually, further digging into it, I found it's because of the "Nouns Declension", with which masculine nouns ended with -e will have gen., akk. and dat. all changed to -en. Interesting
    – Shrinetown
    Jun 28 '19 at 4:22
  • The "system" behind those different declensions is maintaining at least some unambiguity with a mix of different reduction syllables only. So you always have to look at the sentence item as a whole. With some practice you will find it's easier than you thought initially. The most important hints on case and number are given away by the article or pronoun already. Focus on those.
    – Janka
    Jun 28 '19 at 9:06

The word "Kollegen" is not only the plural form of "der Kollege", it is also the dative and accusative form of "der Kollege" both singular and plural. The difference must be derived from the words around, sometimes only from the context.

  1. Sie fährt mit ihrem Kollegen. (singular)

    Sie fährt mit ihren Kollegen. (plural)

  2. Er hat einen Kollegen. (must be singular because of "ein")

    Er hat Kollegen. (plural implied)

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