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I've just started learning German and one of the books I was reading explains that you can use various words like articles by using the endings of the article cases. My book just says:

this/these     dies- (close to speaker)
that/those     jen- (away from speaker)*
all            all- (singular or plural)
each, every    jed- (always singular)
which          welch-
some           manch- (almost always plural)
such           solch-

*Jener used relatively rarely in German, and instead of it one can use dieser (this/that, these/those)

Some of the restrictions of plurality make sense to me: jed- is always going to be singular because it is referring to the individuals e.g. jeder Baum means "every tree", but some of the others confuse me, namely all- and manch-.

I would have expected all- and manch- to always be plural because they are used to talk about many of something e.g. alle Bäume means "all trees". When are the singulars used?

  • 1
    Welcome to German.SE. Despite the text book rules - do you have some examples where you think the plural and singular could fit (from the "not sure ones")? It is easier to show something on examples. And if it is an example you have to deal with, you might benefit more from the explanation. – Shegit Brahm Aug 14 at 6:09
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Yes, in German the indefinite pronouns all and manch can be used in singular. The following examples show this.

all

  • Ich wünsche dir alles Gute.
    (I wish you all the best.)
  • Er besitzt alle Macht.
    (He has all the power.)

manch

  • Ich träume manches Mal davon.
    (I dream of it sometimes.)
  • So manch einer versteht micht nicht.
    (Some people don't understand me.)

At least the English all is also used with singular here. For some, I could not find a corresponding example.


Addition: In the comments, a user insisted on an example with all undeclined. Even though this is not part of the original question, I am providing here a passage from DUDEN 9 (8th ed., p. 43), partly translated with the help of DeepL:

all-:

6. all die Mühe / alle die Mühe – all meine Freunde / alle meine Freunde: In front of a noun with an article word all can be both declined and undeclined. […] In the singular, with masculine and neutral nouns, the undeclined form is common in all cases today: All der Fleiß war vergebens. All mein Zureden half nichts. Es bedurfte all meines Mutes. The undeclined form, on the other hand, is no longer needed: Wozu alles dieses Geschwätz (Lessing). With feminine nouns, in the nominative and accusative singular both possibilities are equally important (all / alle meine Arbeit), while in the genitive and dative the undeclared forms predominate (all dieser Arbeit war er überdrüssig; ich in all meiner Unschuld und Unwissenheit).

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  • Im talking about the use of all, e.g. "All die Macht die er besaß, konnte ihn nicht retten." – πάντα ῥεῖ Aug 14 at 10:17
  • I think I understand when all- is used singularly now. It's for stuff that isn't really countable on it own (I'm guessing that the context of 'power' in your example means influence and if you said "all powers", it would mean having every ability). – Nicholas Aug 14 at 20:32
  • Presumably if I am talking about something like sand, time, water, light, etc. which cannot be divided into separate counting units, I would use the singular. I'm still not 100% sure when you would use something like alle Macht vs all die Macht though. Would the meaning change? – Nicholas Aug 14 at 20:38
  • Also, I don't really mind if you can't find a corresponding example similar to manch if I can know how to use it properly. Is there some kind of condition (similar to the uncountable singular with all) that I can use as an indicator of what is appropriate? – Nicholas Aug 14 at 20:43
  • Wait. Is manch also used singularly with 'uncountable' things? So, for example, I could say something like manches Wasser? It's singular since a person can't really 'count' water, but it is still 'some'. – Nicholas Aug 20 at 4:03
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all-

  • die allgemeine Schulpflicht
    general compulsory schooling
  • das alljährliche Weihnachtsfest
    the annual Christmas festival
  • der alleinige Herrscher
    the sole ruler
  • der allseits bekannte Star
    the well-known star
  • der allmächtige und allwissende Gott
    the almighty and omniscient God

manch

  • Manch einer, der vor der Versuchung flieht, hofft doch heimlich, dass sie ihn einholt.
  • Someone who flees temptation secretly hopes that it will catch up with him.
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  • 3
    The question is about inflected forms such as alle, allen, alles, not about compounds such as allgemein. – David Vogt Aug 14 at 7:48
  • Would be nice to have an example that explains a sentence like "All die Dinge die Du getan hast ..." and how the inflection works there (especially since Dinge is Plural there). – πάντα ῥεῖ Aug 14 at 7:55

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