Declension of German Nouns
See the following sentence:
Ich gebe dem Studenten den Kuli. (I give the student the pen.)
Studenten can't be a plural noun, because the article of Studenten is "dem". It is clearly a dative, singular masculine noun. Then, what is this ending -en?
Some masculine nouns add an ending "-en" or "-n" in the accusative, dative and, genitive cases. These nouns are called weak nouns (schwache Nomen) and this type of declension is called n-declension (n-Deklination). schwache Nomen are:
- Nouns that end in letters "-ent", for example, "der Student" changes into "dem Studenten", "der Assistent" changes into "dem Assistenten"
- Nouns that end in the letter "-e", for example, "der Junge" (boy) changes into "dem Jungen" , "der Name" changes into "dem Namen" .
- Some other nouns with no specific endings like "der Herr" (Mr.) changes into "dem Herrn" and "der Mensch" (human, person) changes into "dem Menschen".
Sie erzählt einem Jungen eine Geschichte.
(She tells a boy a story.)
erzählen (to tell somebody something), der Junge (boy), die Geschichte (story)
Ich erzähle Herrn Meier die Wahrheit.
(I tell the truth to Mr. Meier.)
die Wahrheit (truth)
Ich erkläre dem Menschen das Problem. (I explain the problem to that person.)
As German demonstrative pronouns are the same as definite articles, so "dem" can have meanings of "the" and "that".
erklären (to explain something to somebody), der Mensch (person, man) plural: die Menschen, das Problem (problem)
Similarly, all the examples with definite articles from the last lesson can have two meanings:
Ich zeige der Frau das Auto.
(I show the car to the woman.)
(I show the car to that woman.)
zeigen (to show somebody something)
Ich schicke dem Mann ein Geschenk.
(I send the man a gift.)
(I send that man a gift.)
schicken (to send somebody something), das Geschenk (gift)
Ich kaufe der Frau das Brot.
(I buy the woman the bread.)
(I buy that woman the bread.)
kaufen (to buy), das Brot (bread)