I am beginner in learning German and I am a bit confused. When I try to translate English sentence: "I see her nephew now." to German, both Google and DeepL translates as "Ich sehe jetzt ihren Neffen."

Here I ask, why "Neffe" takes "-n", it is not plural, doesn't it have to be "...ihren Neffe." in akkusativ??


3 Answers 3


Here I ask, why "Neffe" takes "-n", it is not plural, doesn't it have to be "...ihren Neffe." in akkusativ??

First off, your assumption that it is Akkusativ is correct. "ihren" is a so-called Possessivpronomen, in English "her" (from "her nephew"). These are treated similar to Adjektive in respect of getting declinated with the Nomen (noun) they go with:

mein Auto (Nominativ Singular)
meines Autos (Genitiv Singular)
meinem Auto (Dativ Singular)
mein Auto (Akkusativ Singular)

The forms are different for Maskulinum, Femininum and Neutrum, the above ("das Auto") is a Neutrum. "Neffe" is a Maskulinum and hence:

ihr Neffe (Nominativ Singular)
ihres Neffen (Genitiv Singular)
ihrem Neffen (Dativ Singular)
ihren Neffen (Akkusativ Singular)

There are different declensions for nouns in German, but there is one rule which has no exceptions: if an Adjektiv, Numeral, Demonstrativpronomen or Possessivpronomen goes with a Nomen then both are declinated the same way (same Kasus, same Numerus).

Here is an example for that:

ein leuchtendes rotes Auto
ein leuchtend rotes Auto

In the first case there are two Adjektiva ("leuchtend", "rot"), which both go with the Nomen ("Auto"). So the car is "red" as well as "shining". Both Adjektiva are declinated along with "Auto".

In the second case, "leuchtend" is not declinated. This is because it is not a property of the car any more, but a property of its colour - "red". "Leuchtend" is not even an Adjektiv any more but an "Adverb". The two expressions mean "a shining red car" (1) and "a shiningly red car" (2).


For each German noun, you have to remember the definite nominative singular article and the plural. I think you already do that.

  • das Haus, Häuser
  • die Maus, Mäuse

For the masculine nouns, you have to remember the genitive singular on top, as there are three declination classes for those:

  • der Zug, des Zuges, Züge

That's the strong declination which behaves as you expected.

  • der Neffe, des Neffen, Neffen
  • der Gedanke, des Gedankens, Gedanken

Those are the two flavours of the weak (or n-) declination. They have an (-e)n ending in all cases but nominative singular and the genitive singular is irregular either -en, on -ens. You can spot the weak declination from that irregular genitive singular ending. That's why you have to drill it.

Note there are also nouns made from adjectives and adjective-like words as e.g. der/die/das Auszubildende which follow adjective declination.

And there's das Herz which is completely irregular.


That's called n-deklination in German. All the masculine names who are ended at -e like Neffe, some animal names like der Löwe, der Hase, der Falke, der Affe, der Bulle, der Rabe, der Schimpanse

Für folgende Nomen gilt die N-Deklination:

Nomen mit der Endung „-e“, z. B.:

Personen, z. B.: der Kollege, der Junge, der Kunde, der Experte, der Neffe, der Riese, der Zeuge, der Sklave, der Bote, der Erbe, der Gatte Nationalitäten, z. B.: der Pole, der Russe, der Grieche, der Franzose, der Brite, der Chinese, der Türke Tiere, z. B.: der Löwe, der Hase, der Falke, der Affe, der Bulle, der Rabe, der Schimpanse

Nomen mit der Endung „-oge”, „-ent”, „-ant”, „-at”, „-ist” (meist Bezeichnungen von Berufen oder Personen), z. B.:

  • der Biologe, der Psychologe, der Gynäkologe, der Pädagoge, der Soziologe
  • der Student, der Dozent, der Produzent, der Präsident, der Patient, der Absolvent, der Assistent
  • der Lieferant, der Praktikant, der Elefant, der Diamant, der Emigrant, der Musikant
  • der Soldat, der Kandidat, der Diplomat, der Automat
  • der Tourist, der Polizist, der Journalist, der Spezialist, der Terrorist

andere Nomen, z. B.:

der Katholik, der Fotograf, der Planet, der Architekt, der Herr, der Mensch, der Nachbar, der Bauer, der Held, der Bär, der Prinz, der Idiot

source= https://deutsch-mit-anna.de/lektion/n-deklination/ these all will get a n when they're conjugated

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