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What is N-Declension? (N-Deklination)

Some masculine Nouns (Nomen) require the so called the N-Declension.

These Nouns have an extra -(e)n ending in the singular Accusative, singular Dative, and singular Genitive cases.

⇒ With N-Deklination they look like the Plural form.


Important: The Nominative stays the same and never uses N-Deklination.

N-Deklination n-declension overview

The "Genitive-s" is overwritten by N-Deklination. 

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When do we use N-Deklination?

All 4 conditions have to be fullfilled:

  • Only Masculine noun (Exception: „das Herz“) 
  • The Plural form has to end in „-n“ or „-en“. 
  • People or Animals
  • Only in Accusative, Dative and Genitive


Simple 4-Step-Guide

Step 1: Is the noun used in the Accusative, Dative or Genitive case?

  • Nein ⇒ No N-Deklination

Der Franzose ist freundlich.” Nominative ⇒ Keine N-Declension

  • Ja ⇒ Continue to Step 2

Der Deutsche gibt dem Franzosen einen Tipp.“

Step 2: Is it a person or an animal?

  • Nein ⇒ No N-Deklination
  • Ja ⇒ Continue to Step 3

Der Deutsche gibt dem Franzosen einen Tipp.“

„einen Tipp“: nein ⇒ keine N-Declension

„dem Franzosen“ ⇒ ja

Step 3: Is the noun masculine and singular?

  • Nein ⇒ No N-Deklination
  • Ja ⇒ Continue to Step 4

Der Deutsche gibt dem Franzosen einen Tipp.“

„dem Franzosen“ ⇒ ja

Step 4: Does the noun use an „-n“ or „-en“ ending for it's plural form?

  • Nein ⇒ No N-Deklination
  • Ja ⇒ Yes, you have to use the N-Deklination

Der Deutsche gibt dem Franzosen einen Tipp.“

„die Franzosen“ ⇒ ja ⇒ N-Deklination


The Noun must take on an „-n“ or „-en“ ending when:

  1. it is Masculine,
  2. it is a person or an animal,
  3. the plural ends in „n“ or „en“ and
  4. it is not in the Nominative case.

All 4 conditions must be fulfilled.

Attention: Check list of exceptions below!

Exceptions of the 4-Conditions-Rule:

The 4 conditions rule works for almost all nouns, but there are a few exceptions:

1. You have to use N-Deklination for the following nouns (even though not all of the four rules are fulfilled):

  • der Automat, die Automaten: den Automaten – dem Automaten – des Automaten
  • der Planet, die Planeten: den Planeten – dem Planeten – des Planeten
  • der Konsonant, die Konsonanten den Konsonanten – dem Konsonanten – des Konsonanten
  • der Hydrant, die Hydranten: den Hydranten – dem Hydranten – des Hydranten
  • das Herz, die Herzen: das Herz - dem Herzen - des Herzens

2. You do NOT use N-Deklination for these nouns (even though all rules are fulfilled).

  • der Doktor, die Doktoren: den Doktor – dem Doktor – des Doktors
  • der Drachen, die Drachen: den Drachen - dem Drachen - des Drachens 

3. The N-Deklination is used together with the "Genitive-s" for the following nouns:

  • der Gedanke, die Gedanken: den Gedanken – dem Gedanken – des Gedankens
  • der Glaube, kein Plural: den Glauben – dem Glauben – des Glaubens
  • der Wille, die Willen: den Willen – dem Willen – des Willens
  • der Frieden, (kein Plural): den Frieden – dem Frieden – des Friedens
  • der Name, die Namen: den Namen - dem Namen - des Namens

Related Topics:

Entire lesson in German only: N-Deklination

More lessons about Declension:

More information on German sentence structure and word order: Satzbau (Sentence Structure).

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