Just like in English, the following German nouns are “non-count”. They’re what we call “mass nouns”. They can only be used in the singular form.
|the luggage||das Gepäck|
|the weather||das Wetter|
|the furniture||die Möbel|
|the jewelry||der Schmuck|
|the gold||das Gold|
|the music||die Musik|
|the ice||das Eis|
|the mathematics||die Mathematik|
|the trash/rubbish/garbage||der Müll|
|the braces (BE)/ the suspenders (AE)||die Hosenträger|
These English mass nouns have a German singular and a German plural form!
|information||die Information||die Informationen|
|feedback||die Rückmeldung||die Rückmeldungen|
|advice||der Rat||die Räte, die Ratschläge|
|news||die Nachricht||die Nachrichten|
|homework||die Hausaufgabe||die Hausaufgaben|
|work||die Arbeit||die Arbeiten|
|education||die Ausbildung||die Ausbildungen|
|data||die Data||die Daten|
|help||die Hilfe||die Hilfen|
|knowledge||die Kenntnis||die Kenntnisse|
|pollution||die Umweltverschmutzung||die Umweltverschmutzungen|
|evidence||der Beweis||die Beweise|
These English mass nouns only use the plural form! German has a singular and a plural form.
|ENGLISH (non-count)||DEUTSCH/EINZAHL||DEUTSCH /MEHRZAHL|
|clothes||die Kleidung||die Kleidungen|
|scissors||die Schere||die Scheren|
|jeans||eine Jeans||zwei Jeans|
|glasses||die Brille||die Brillen|
|binoculars||das Fernglas||die Ferngläser|
|pliers||die Zange||die Zangen|
|pants, trousers||die Hose||die Hosen|
|police||die Polizei||die Polizeien|
|tights||die Strumpfhose||die Strumpfhose|
|*braces||die Zahnspange||die Zahnspangen|
*British English uses the word „braces“ for “Hoseträger” AND for the German word “Zahnspange”. One “braces” holds your pants up and the other “braces” holds your teeth in place. Cool! American English has one word for “Hosenträger” and that’s “suspenders”. They help to “suspend” our pants above the waist, I guess!
The following German words do not have an English equivalent. They’re considered “Sammelbegriffe” and always start with the prefix “Ge-“. The article is always “das”. English has singular and plural forms for these words. Of course, we also have “foliage” and “mountain range”, too, but I personally think English speakers are quicker to use the plural forms. To all you German learners, English speakers would say “Vegetables ARE healthy” Germans would say “(Das) Gemüse IST gesund”!
|das Gebirge||the mountain||the mountains|
|das Gemüse||the vegetable||the vegetables|
|das Gebüsch||the bush||the bushes|
|das Gebäck||the pastry||the pastries|
|das Gewitter||the storm||the storms|
I see a lot of mistakes made by foreign speakers (Germans learning English, mostly), and I have here a collection of sentences I often have to correct. Feel free to learn from these!
- I would like some information.
BUT NOT: I would like some informations.
- Would you give me some advice?
BUT NOT: Would you give me an advice?
- Give me your feedback.
BUT NOT: Give me a feedback.
- A company uses wood to make its products.
BUT NOT: A company uses woods to make its products.
“Wood” (Holz) wird nur im Singular benutzt. “Woods” heißt eine Gruppe von Bäumen. „He got lost in the woods”. Er hat sich im Wald verirrt. Andere Stoffe, die keine Mehrzahl haben: gold, silver, lead, cotton, steel
- My teacher gave us homework in Geometry.
BUT NOT: My teacher gave us a homework in Geometry.
- Many fish live in the ocean.
BUT NOT: Many fishes live in the ocean.
The word “fish” is also used as the plural form. There used to be the form “fishes” but it’s fallen out of usage. There’s also no plural form for animal words deer, sheep, trout, shrimp or moose. However, English often uses the following collective nouns to describe groups of more than two:
a school: a school of fish, a school of trout
a herd: a herd of buffalo, a herd of sheep, a herd of moose, a herd of cattle
- There are a lot of mice in the barn.
BUT NOT: there are a lot of mouses in the barn
“Mice” is the irregular form for “mouse”. Now you might be asking, “What about a computer mouse?” If you want to talk about the input device “mouse”, then you can say, for example, “two mouse devices”. That way, you can avoid the awkward use of “mice” to describe what we use to click around with!
- This store sells nice clothes.
BUT NOT: This store sells nice clotheses.
The police are in the building.
BUT NOT: The police is in the building.
- He fell off his bike and broke two of his teeth.
BUT NOT: He fell off his bike and broke two of his tooths.
There’s a few nouns that have an irregular form. Words whose middle changes to “ee” are goose – geese, foot – feet, tooth – teeth