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Nouns

Substantiver / navneord

  Genders and articles (køn og artikler/kendeord)

There are two genders in Danish:
  1. common gender (fælleskøn) -- en, den
  2. neuter gender (intetkøn) -- et, det
They have to be remembered along with the words. A hint: about 75% of nouns are en-words. There are two indefinite articles: et and en and three definite articles: det, den, and plural de. They are used in the form of suffixes -en, -et, -(e)ne. That means they are attached to words (they don't preceed them like in English or German). The following table illustrates the use of articles.

singular plural
indefinite en-word en dreng
a boy
en pige
a girl
drenge
boys
piger
girls
definite en-word drengen
the boy
pigen
the girl
drengene
the boys
pigerne
the girls
indefinite et-word et hus
a house
et træ
a tree
huse
houses
træer
trees
definite et-word huset
the house
træet
the tree
husene
the houses
træerne
the trees

If an adjective is present, articles are used in a different way:

singularplural
indefinite en-word en stor dreng
a big boy
en stor pige
a big girl
store drenge
big boys
store piger
big girls
definite en-word den store dreng
the big boy
den store pige
the big girl
de store drenge
the big boys
de store piger
the big girls
indefinite et-word et stort hus
a big house
et stort træ
a big tree
store huse
big houses
store træer
big trees
definite et-word det store hus
the big house
det store træ
the big tree
de store huse
the big houses
de store træer
the big trees

For the explanation of adjective forms in the above table see the chapter on adjectives.

  Plurals (flertal)

Plurals can be formed in four ways:
  1. by adding -er, eg. en kage - kager (a cake - cakes)
  2. by adding -e, eg. et hus - huse (a house - houses)
  3. no change, eg. en ting - ting (a thing - things)
  4. irregularly, eg. en mand - mænd (a man - men)
In a very few cases forming a plural is accompanied by a vovel mutation in the noun stem, eg. en bog - bøger (a book - books). Certain words, though not many, retained their original plural forms (eg. Latin visum - visa or English point - points). Some words are found only in the singular (eg. død, håb (death, hope)) or only in the plurar (eg. briller, bukser (glasses, trousers)).

  Joined nouns (sammensatte substantiver)

Danish words (N, V, Adj, Adv) are often joined together (one observes a similar phenomenon in the German language) by putting s, e, or nothing between them. In such cases the last word decides about the article, and takes the plural form. Examples:

  Genitive (ejefald)

Genitive is formed just like in English - we add an s at the end of the word (after all other possible suffixes). The only difference is that in Danish one does not use an apostrophe. If a noun ends with s (or z), we add es, 's or '. In case of a group of nouns (eg. Adam and Eve) s can be attached to both nouns, or only to the last one. Examples:

  Capitalization

Before the spelling reform in 1948 all nouns were spelled with a capital letter (as in German): Derude paa Himlen havde blaagraa Farver vundet Magten, og enkelte Regndraaber slog mod Ruderne. It is not the case anymore.

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tsca's Danish Grammar; © 1999 Copyright by Tomasz Sienicki < tsca @ edb.dk >