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I guess Liebfrau means mother Mary. So I thought St. Mary church can be called Liebfraukirche or Liebfrauekirche (because Kirche is female noun). But why is it Liebfrauenkirche? I think I've seen many such cases.

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  • I don't think your initial assumption holds. St Mary Church simply would be Marienkirche Sep 28, 2021 at 7:11
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    @planetmaker Look at de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsere_Liebe_Frau.
    – Paul Frost
    Sep 28, 2021 at 9:01
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    See also this question. Sep 28, 2021 at 9:05
  • Both variants "Liebfraukirche" and "Liebfrauenkirche" occur. Just make a Google search for these two words. In my opinion the second variant sounds better.
    – Paul Frost
    Sep 28, 2021 at 9:15

1 Answer 1

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The rules for building compound nouns are very complicated, and there are more exceptions than rules. But the rule for building compound nouns with "Frau" is easy: Always use "Frauen":

Frauenbund, Frauenheld, Frauenhandel, Frauenteam, Frauenkleid, Frauenwelt, Frauenwahlrecht, Frauenarzt, Frauensauna, Frauenschuh, Frauenmangel, Frauenzimmer, Frauenstreik, Frauenjournal, Frauenmörder, Frauenstimme, Frauenhut, Frauenheilkunde, Frauengürtel, Frauenkirche, Frauenkörper, Frauenname, Frauenrecht, Frauenbild, Frauenanteil, Frauenchor, Frauenhaus, Frauenpartei, Frauenmode, Frauenparkplatz, Frauenabend, ...

Although it looks like a plural it isn't. It is just the form you use for compound words. You can read more about this topic in the wikipedia articles about Fugenlaut and Komposition (both in German).

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  • thanks, is it commont for 'weak nouns'?
    – Chan Kim
    Sep 28, 2021 at 9:00
  • As I said: there are more exceptions than rules. But it's true: most weak nouns have this -en- in compositions, but not all: Stirn (forehead), Erbe (heritage) and Uhr (clock) are a weak nouns, but "Stirnenlampe", "Erbentante" and "Uhrenwerk" are wrong, "Stirnlampe", "Erbtante" and "Uhrwerk" are correct. Also all words ending in -heit or -keit are weak, but they go with -s- in compositions: "Krankheitsbild, Tätigkeitsbereich" Sep 28, 2021 at 16:09
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    That said, there are nouns with Erben- (Erbenaufruf, Erbenversammlung) and of course Erbs- (Erbseinsetzung) as well. More exceptions than rules? Frankly, I find it hard to discern any rules here.
    – Ingmar
    Sep 28, 2021 at 17:56
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    I cannot help but think this answer does not quite resolve a possible misunderstanding by the OP. The remark "because Kirche is female noun" from the question suggests that the OP might somehow be trying to apply adjective endings to "Liebfrau" here. Sep 28, 2021 at 20:51

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