Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

5.8: Noun Formation

  • Page ID
    89150
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    clipboard_e4daac9648d6183a81b0fda847b787035.png

    Knowing how words are formed is most helpful in learning vocabulary and preparing yourself to be able to determine the meaning of new vocabulary. It is very useful to know that German forms nouns from verbs, from adjectives, and from adding suffixes to other nouns and adjectives among other ways. Study the following examples of word relationships, and as you work on translating the exercises in this book, look for possible connections between words. Check your guesses in the dictionary and list related words together for purposes of learning them more quickly. Remember, these are just some examples; there are thousands of words formed in these various ways.

    Noun – Verb Relationships

    Related to simple verbs:

    NOUN VERB
    das Band (string / band) binden
    die Bindung (bond / binding) binden
    die Fahrt (drive / ride) fahren
    die Reise (journey) reisen
    der Spruch (saying) sprechen

    Related to verbs with prefixes:

    NOUN VERB
    die Abfahrt (departure) abfahren
    der Ausgang (exit) ausgehen
    der Eingang (entrance eingehen
    der Gewinn (gain / winning) gewinnen
    der Niedergang (decline) niedergehen
    der Übergang (crossing) übergehen
    der Umgang (circuit) umgehen
    der Verstand (reason) verstehen
    der Widerstand (resistance) widerstehen

    Noun – Adjective Relationships

    NOUN ADJECTIVE
    die Breite (breadth) breit
    die Dicke (thickness) dick
    die Größe (size) groß
    die Länge (length) lang
    die Kälte (cold) kalt
    die Röte (redness) rot

    Noun Suffixes

    1. –chen and –lein (diminutives, always neuter)

    Bettchen (little bed) Bett
    Städtlein (little town) Stadt

    2. –er denotes “doer” or “that which does”

    Musiker (musician) Musik
    Tänzer (dancer) tanzen
    Zeiger (pointer / indicator) zeigen

    3. –heit and –keit denotes “state of being” (always feminine)

    Abhängigkeit (dependence) abhängig
    Aufmerksamkeit (attentiveness) aufmerksam
    Freiheit (freedom) frei
    Gesundheit (health) gesund
    Schönheit (beauty) schön

    4. –in denotes females

    Lehrerin (female teacher) Lehrer
    Professorin (female professor) Professor

    5. –schaft denotes “relationship,” “collective state” (always feminine)

    Bruderschaft (brotherhood) Bruder
    Freundschaft (friendship Freund
    Landschaft (landscape) Land
    Wissenschaft (science) wissen

    6. –tum denotes “condition”

    der Reichtum (wealth / richness) reich
    das Wachstum (growth) wachsen

    7. –ung (always feminine)

    Sammlung (collection) sammeln
    Vergrößerung (enlargement) vergrößern
    Zeitung (newspaper) Zeit

    The topic of word formation will continue to be covered throughout later units to help you both with building vocabulary and with quickly guessing the meaning of unfamiliar words.


    This page titled 5.8: Noun Formation is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Howard Martin revised by Alan Ng.

    • Was this article helpful?