Resources on the German language.
This page is meant as a quick reference for cooking up German names for your timelines - names of countries, alliances, institutions, places. While it is relatively easy to find the German translations of single words or place names, here you can find an easy way to combine them correctly.
Imagine you are making map captions for your new timeline. In the middle of it, you stumble across the term 'New Bavarian Confederation', and feel the desire to translate into German. Then there are two possibilities: Either you know enough German to do that, or you use this page as a guide. Follow these steps:
But be sure to find the basic form of each word (which is what you find as dictionary entries). In our case, you find out that “Bavarian” is Bayerisch in German, “New” translates to Neu, and for some reason we make up our mind for Föderation for “Confederation”.
Adjective + Adjective + Nounconstruction.
The only decision to be made is whether to use an article or not. Now if it is the title of a map, displaying the member states of the entity under that name, then “The Bavarian Confederation” may be a good idea, and we remember to include a definite article. If, however, the caption is to indicate what the dark blue color means on a map of Europe, then “Bavarian Confederation” is enough. Luckily, this reasoning directly transfers to German.
In our example, we only need the section Adjective + Noun or (Definite) Article + Adjective + Noun, respectively, dependent on our choice under 2. Now these sections chatter about the gender of the noun in questions, so we need to find out about that. Consulting the List of nouns with genders, or an appropriate hard copy or online dictionary, yields that Föderation is female; in this case, a look at Gender Hints would have served the same purpose. Following the “female” row in the adjective table for the non-article case yields the adjective ending -e, which we apply to both adjectives. Thus we already obtain the final caption for the European map: Neue Bayerische Föderation. If we chose the article option, then the table tells us the same adjective ending, and provides us with the female article Die. Therefore, the detail map would be entitled Die Neue Bayerische Föderation.
A quick look at the spelling section encourages us to keep the consistent initial capitalization. Moreover, in the sad case we cannot type umlauts, we learn that the transcription should read Neue Bayerische Foederation.
Haff fun viz zis paitche!
This is a short list of things which are closely related to the material presented here, but are not (yet) explained (please update the list when editing this page):
preposition + adjective + nounwithout article;
So we're sorry this page does not yet lead you to translate the phrase
the most refined one of the five states of German nation during the Seventh French Republic, in a way.
You are welcome to contribute!
Identifiers, as used on maps or other captions, often consist of adjectives and nouns, occasionally with article added. The following table lists the correct forms of articles and adjectives to use. The right form depends on the gender of the noun. (For the cracks: All listed forms are in the nominative case, which you usually only need.)
|Male:||-er||Deutsch-er Bund (German Confederation)|
|Female:||-e||Heilig-e Allianz (Holy Alliance)|
|Neuter:||-es||Deutsch-es Reich (German Empire)|
|Plural:||-e||Kaiserlich-e Truppen (The Imperial Forces)|
The plural rule refers to nouns of any gender (if they happen to appear in multiplicity).
If there is more than one adjective, all take the same ending: Heilig-es Römisch-es Reich — Holy Roman Empire
|Male:||der||-e||der Deutsch-e Bund (the German Confederation)|
|Female:||die||-e||die Heilig-e Allianz (the Holy Alliance)|
|Neuter:||das||-e||das Deutsch-e Reich (the German Empire)|
|Plural:||die||-en||Die kaiserlich-en Truppen (the Imperial Forces)|
Again, the plural rule refers to all genders. Only in the singular differentiation takes place.
As above, if there is more than one adjective, all take the same ending: Das Heilig-e Römisch-e Reich — Holy Roman Empire
For practically all terming and caption purposes, the article der, die, das is employed roughly in the same cases when the would pop up in English.
German speakers like composite nouns, and they do so even more when non-person names are concerned. This is particularly practical since declension complications cannot arise. It often feels natural even if you make up new combinations hitherto unheard of.
And so it works: Just attach the words to each other . This is meant literally: In most cases, no hyphen will be used.
If the first noun is male or neuter, often an -s- is glued in between. If it is female, sometimes -(e)n- takes the same place. There is no fixed rule whether or not (and which) infix should be taken in neologisms; but a rule of thumb can be given: if you happen to find a combination with the same first part, than treat it the same way.
Here is a small sample of possible first parts:
e.g.: Reichsmarschall — Imperial Marshall.
(mostly substituted by adjective kaiserlich)
e.g.: Staatskanzlei — state chancellery.
e.g.: Landesregierung — state government, state administration. \ But: Landtag — state parliament (without -es).
e.g.: Bundesregierung — federal government, Bundestag — federal parliament.
Less frequently, the first part of a composite noun can also be an adjective in its basic form. Again, this avoids the declension part. This time, the composition is marked with a hyphen in most cases. Typical applications include:
Französisch-Guayana, Deutsch-Westafrika, Britisch- Kolumbien (the latter occurred up to WWI, now the English term is used)). Also with cities: Sächsisch-Altenburg, Ungarisch-Altenburg.
Also Rotchina (Red China; contemptuous term).
Of course, if you can do two, you can do more… but if you combine more than three words, it will soon sound ironic. Mostly.
In German, every noun is assigned one of the three grammatical genders: Male, female, or neuter. The gender controls the way that word is integrated in phrases and sentences; more precisely, it determines the forms of adjectives, articles, and pronouns referring to it.
In general, the gender cannot be told from the word itself; it can be considered an independent part of the vocable beside spelling, pronunciation (and stressing), and meaning. However, see section Gender Hints.
Obviously, the above list is only useful if you can find out genders of German nouns. Start of a semantically ordered list (to be extended):
Although the gender usually cannot be told form the word itself, there are some simplifications:
See above: Reich is neuter, hence so is Königreich.
Terms for male persons employed for females are usually “moved”, i.e. made female. In most cases this is accomplished by the suffix -in (e.g. König m. → Königin f.), sometimes with additional umlaut (e.g. Graf m. → Gräfin f.). Moving may be omitted for carelessness. \ There are few nouns which do not allow for moving (Gast m. guest, Spitzel m. informer).
Many things and abstract notions have male or female gender. Moreover, neuter can also
German prepositions behave in a completely different way if they specify a location than if they define a spatial direction. All information below refers to location/position. \ Insider hint: Direction is usually expressed via the accusative, whereas location requires dative from the noun after the preposition. We explain prepositions with dative. \ The section about //auf// already explains the general case for such prepositions (the ones reigning the dative), i.e. an and in (along with a couple of others) constitute exceptions with their contraction behavior.
The preposition “an” means “near, next to”; we need to mark the position of a city “on” a body of water. The complete forms depend on the gender of the word after it, here the river. For the table of forms, we assume that the river always takes a definite article, which should be always the case for our applications.
|gender/number||preposition + article||adjective ending||example|
|Male:||am||-en||Köln am Rhein (Cologne on the Rhine), Bregenz am Bodensee|
|Female:||an der||-en||Wien an der Donau (Vienna on the Danube), Neustadt an der Weinstraße|
|Neuter:||am||-en||Trapezunt am Schwarzen Meer|
|Plural:||an den||-en||Çanakkale an den Dardanellen|
The preposition “in” corresponds closely to the English “in”. Obviously, it is often applied to countries, regions, and cities.
To explain the corresponding forms, I have to tell you the whole truth now. The sad news is that in addition to the genders and the plural, we get another case, namely “no definite article after the preposition”. Luckily, this is the simplest as well as the most frequent case. The rest is similar to “an”.
|gender/number||preposition + article||adjective ending||example|
|no article:||in||-||Darmstadt in Hessen|
|Male:||im||-en||Freiburg im Breisgau|
|Female:||in der||-en||Kaiserslautern in der Pfalz|
|Neuter:||im||-en||Kempten im Allgäu|
|Plural:||in den||-en||eine Stadt in den Alpen (a town in the Alps)|
Now we have to specify in which cases you drop the article.
|gender/number||preposition + article||adjective ending||example|
|no article:||auf||-||Binz auf Rügen|
|Female:||auf der||-en||Freiburg auf der Schanz'|
|Neuter:||auf dem||-en||auf dem Matterhorn|
auf (English on) is used for the location on small islands; in this case, it practically always stands without article (auf Ibiza, auf Long Island). Exception: If there a regular (non-name) noun is part of the name, the the article is used (auf der Osterinsel). See Islands.
These forms explain the generic case of a preposition with dative; in particular, the prepositions which indicate location (as opposed to direction). (The contractions of in, an are exceptions.)
General rule: Names for rivers, mountains, islands etc. stand for themselves. Do not add the notions “Fluss” or “Berg”.
Country, city, and other place names are usually neuter. Exceptions may arise:
Irak (male), Iran (male), Kongo (male), Libanon (male), Niederlande (Netherlands, plural), Schweiz (Switzerland, female), Sudan (male), Tschad (male), Ukraine (female), Vatikan (male)
… dropping by in German-speaking countries are usually female (die Donau - the Danube), with a few significant male exceptions (hopefully complete list: Rhein (Rhine), Main, Neckar, Inn, Regen, Lech, and Belt, if that one counts as (historic) German-speaking sphere). In particular, the adjective rules above apply (die untere Elbe — the lower Elbe).
Rivers outside German-speaking spheres are usually male (der Amazonas, der Nil, der Ohio). Exception: If the name ends in an unstressed -a or -e, a German speaker will sense strong female vibes about it (die Wolga, die Seine, die Rhone, die Themse; nevertheless, der Volta).
A city “on” a river, or lake, or sea, is called “an” + definite article + that body of water in German. This is subject to declension, see the Prepositions section.
Island names are almost always employed without an article. Exception: If there a regular (non-name) noun is part of the name, the the article is used (auf der Osterinsel).
The position on an island is expressed via the preposition auf for small islands, and with the preposition in if the island is large. Hence, big islands are treated like other countries and regions.
Now good luck telling small from large islands.
A rule of thumb which seems largely acceptable: Formosa/Taiwan is big, Sicily is debatable, and Hawaii Main Island is small. At any rate, it is in Britannien, in Irland and auf Sansibar. Either in Sizilien and auf Sizilien are correct.
When following the link to the respective preposition, please take care of deciding whether you need an article (usually not).
If a city name occurs more than once, or if its rough position should be explained, DO NOT just juxtapose it with a state or country name.
If you want to make non-German notions look like lean words in German, follow these simple rules:
This covers most changes lean words undergo in spelling.
Country and ethnic adjectives are usually formed out of a country name by adding the suffix -isch after a consonant (japanisch, indisch); sometimes the suffix -(i)anisch replaces the country suffix -(i)en (brasilianisch, peruanisch). In most recent cases, -esisch is used, corresponding to the English suffix “-esian”. A final vowel of the country name is then skipped (ghanesisch, kongolesisch).
The suffix -sch (without i) is only used in a few specific terms (deutsch — German, kölsch — Colognian, pommersch — Pomeranian).
For adjectives derived from personal names, mostly -sch is used (wagnersch, freudsch). If, however, it refers to the supporters of a person, you will often find -ianisch for the adjective and -ianer for the followers (singular and plural); e.g. Hegelianer, hegelianisch; Wagnerianer, wagnerianisch).
General rules of capitalization:
German uses two types of special characters in spelling:
In case you do not have these at your disposal, there is a standard way of paraphrasing them:
DO NOT just replace them by a, o, u.
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