While conversing with 2 native German speakers I said:

Anna beklagt sich über großen Schmerz im Mund.

and they corrected me to:

Anna beklagt sich über große Schmerzen im Mund.

While investigating the usage of Schmerz(en) in references, there did not appear to any correspondence between English and German as to when to use the singular and when the plural. In Reverso I find these, for example:

  • ihre Schmerzen
    her pain
  • chronische Schmerzen
    chronic pain
  • dumpfer Schmerz
  • stechender Schmerz
    stabbing pain
  • sie schrie vor Schmerzen
    she cried out in pain
  • Schmerzen haben
    to be in pain

I am at a loss to know when to use each. Any advice?


You already gave yourself the answer to your question: In German you normally use the noun »Schmerzen« in plural. You can use it in singular too if you want, so your sentence is not wrong. But it's unusual.

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