What are all the attributes necessary to remember, when learning a new noun in German?

Here is my idea of it:

  1. its grammatical gender

  2. whether it is an adjectival noun or not

  3. its plural form

  4. ending in the genitive case


i) Is that correct?

ii) Are there even more attributes to learn?

iii) What are some rules how to deal with / recognize the ending in the attribute 4) ?

a) Attribute 1) is sometimes not necessary, especially if the noun ends with eg. -schaft, -ung, - keit etc, but in general it is necessary to learn

b) Attribute 4) I am not sure about. In my paper Czech-German dictionary there is written every noun in the form: die Scheibe (~, n); or der Sack ((e)s, ~mit Umlaut+e), so I am guessing that the elements in those brackets are: the genitive ending and the plural form, right?

Thank you.


1 Answer 1


I never before have heard the term "adjectival noun". Whatever it mights be, you don't need it when you learn German nouns.

You missed the most important item on your list:

  • meaning

Some words have just grammatical functions but no meaning (like "ein", "und", "wo" and many others), but nouns always have a meaning. This is why we put nouns into almost all sentences. And with meaning I do not mean "translation in my native language", because every language has nouns with meanings that you will not find in some other languages. It is really hard to express the meaning of the english word "mind" in German, on the other hand you will see, that it is difficult to understand the meaning of the German word "Gemütlichkeit" when you speak any other language.

One other very important property is

  • usage

Do not learn just words! Learn sentences! And learn how to build new sentences.

  • 1
    I feel this answer is well-intended and contains some good advice, but doesn't really answer tge question. I agree the OP could have made it more explicit, but the question is quite specifically about what aspects to memorize in order to integrate a noun grammatically correctly into a sentence. As for the "adjectival noun", I suspect it's supposed to refer to "substantivierte Adjektive", in which case it might be relevant, but I hope the OP will still come back to clarify. Mar 29, 2020 at 14:03
  • 3
    An adjectival noun is a horrible experience for a student of the German language. Let's think of two nouns: "Hund" and "Gefangener". Here are two sentences for each of them: 1) Der Hund ist schön. 2) Ein Hund ist schön. 3) Der Gefangene ist dumm. 4) Ein Gefangener ist dumm. In the 1) and 2) sentence the word "Hund" has the same ending. In the 3) and 4) sentence the word "Gefangene" has different ending. There is the "r" in addition in the sentence 4). An adjectival noun changes its ending depending to whether there is a definite / indefinite article in front of it.
    – Jane N.
    Mar 29, 2020 at 14:56
  • 1
    With respect to inflection, an adjectival noun does not behave differently from an ordinary adjective.
    – RHa
    Mar 30, 2020 at 7:54
  • 1
    @RHa: That may be true, but it's beside the point; it behaves differently from an ordinary noun. Mar 30, 2020 at 12:45
  • The fact that one also learns the meaning of the word apart from its morphological features is pretty obvious, isn't it?
    – Nico
    Apr 29, 2020 at 10:20

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