Why is it Gedanken in "Er hatte einen interessanten Gedanken"?

I thought the noun should be Gedanke because it is a maskulin singular noun with Akk. Adjektiv applied in that sentence obviously, but my Kursbuch shows as Gedanken?! Really gets me confused.

May I check with you if my thought is valid and my Kursbuch is wrong?


2 Answers 2


The noun der Gedanke follows the weak noun declination. It's also called n-Deklination because all forms but nominative singular end in -(e)n. Genitive singular may end in -(e)n or -(e)ns, that's a bit wonky with those nouns. Both are okay but usually one or the other is more common.

Most masculine nouns ending in -e follow this pattern. You should know about der Junge already. But there's some more patterns and also exceptions. So for masculine nouns, you not only have to learn the definite article and the plural but also the genitive singular. As that one gives away whether the declination is strong or weak. And also whether the -n or -ns genitive is more common.

  • der Zug, des Zuges, Züge
  • der Junge, des Jungen, Jungen
  • der Gedanke, des Gedankens, Gedanken

At least there's one rule: only masculine nouns may follow this declination scheme. There's exactly one exception to this. It's the noun das Herz which has two different declination schemes depending on whether you mean the organ or courage. The latter follows a modified n-Deklination.

  • many thanks for your kind clarifications and special / exceptional word examples shared for explanation. The declension of Gedanke needs my special attention for 4 cases applied. Thanks again.
    – Canny
    Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 0:11

What are you talking about? It's

  1. Nom. sg.: der Gedanke
  2. Gen. sg.: des Gedankens
  3. Dat. sg.: dem Gedanken
  4. Akk. sg.: den Gedanken

  1. Nom. pl.: die Gedanken
  2. Gen. pl.: der Gedanken
  3. Dat. pl.: den Gedanken
  4. Akk. pl.: die Gedanken

Akkusativ, männlich, Einzahl: "den Gedanken". Nothing to see here, carry on.

  • Hi Ingmar, Thanks for your reply. My German textbook shows der Gedanke is Nom. sg. and die Gedanken as its plural form. In that sentence I shared, Gedanke is the Object of hatte, so it follows Akk. Thus, it should be einen interessanten Gedanke, not Gedanken. Hope i made my question clear here.
    – Canny
    Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 12:46
  • 1
    I am afraid you are wrong. "Gedanken" can either mean 1.) sg. dat. or 2.) sg. acc. or 3.) plural (all cases). So, yes, it's acc. sing. but that means "den Gedanken". "Gedanke" is only used for the nominative singular.
    – Ingmar
    Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 13:36
  • I see, many thanks for your kind explanation.
    – Canny
    Commented Aug 14, 2023 at 0:08

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