Most of the time German nouns remain the same in declension apart from the genitive exception of "+s". But are there any other exceptions? I'm thinking of something that would look like Volk -> Volken, Volkem or something similar, i.e. a change that applies not only to the article but to the noun itself. Or were there any examples in Old German?

I'm asking because in Slavic languages nouns decline in all cases and not just the genitive. Is the +s genitive the only one that's survived?

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    Presumably I'm missing something abiut this question but isn't what you describe - the occurrence of different endings as case/plural markers - what ordinarily happens in multiple declension classes? See eg en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_nouns#Declension_classes. Perhaps you can clarify what you mean.
    – johnl
    Aug 12, 2021 at 8:18
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    What did you find when you looked for declension tables of different nouns? What answer did you get when you searched for the answer in grammar books? Aug 12, 2021 at 8:19
  • In slavic languages you normally have different endings/forms for all cases. In German the declension endings/forms are ambiguous, so an article is needed to define the case.
    – Bodo
    Aug 12, 2021 at 17:07
  • I'm not sure what the point of this question is. Apart from the link given by johnl, this can be answered by any basic text on German grammar. I think what you might be getting at when in the evolution from Proto-Germanic to Modern German nouns lost most of their distinct inflections, but this process took place slowly over a long period of time. Proto-Germanic has many descendants, including English, so I'm not convinced that issue is on-topic for this site.
    – RDBury
    Aug 13, 2021 at 5:14

1 Answer 1


I take it that you are talking about singular dative or accusative. Plural changes most German nouns anyway. This is information that is found in declension tables. I'll summarize this on a general level with some examples.

There are nouns with an irregular declension:

der Herr / des Herrn / dem Herrn / den Herrn

das Herz / des Herzens / dem Herzen / das Herz

In weak declension, some words use -en for singular cases:

der Junge / des Jungen / dem Jungen / den Jungen

Strong declension has some classes that have an older dative form that ends on -e. You can often encounter this in idioms, sayings or old texts:

der Mann / dem Manne ("Das Kind im Manne", idiom)

das Volk / dem Volke ("Dem deutschen Volke", inscription on the Reichstag building in Berlin)

der Berg / dem Berge ("Auf dem Berge, da wehet der Wind", Christmas carol)

Modern everyday dative of these words is the same as nominative: dem Volk, dem Berg, dem Mann.

  • THanks, that's exactly what I was interested in. I'm a novice in German.
    – gene b.
    Aug 13, 2021 at 13:34

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