When studying German, you will quickly realize that finding the right gender of a noun can cause some headaches once in a while. To help you ease up, I will discuss the nouns with the ending -ung in more detail in this article and hope to shed some light in the dark.
The problem with nouns
Depending on the language you speak, you might already get used to languages that use one gender as the English “the” or two genders as the French “le” and “la”. But, believe it or not, the German language has three genders! In German, we differentiate between male (der, ein), female (die, eine), and neuter (das, ein). You mustn’t hit the hay and assume those neuter nouns are what you call “it” in English – because they are not.
Many German students struggle when it comes to finding out the gender of a noun that is not as obvious as “der Mann” (the man) or “die Frau” (the woman). I always recommend studying each noun with its gender and plural form. An excellent way to do so is flashcards.
But in reality, we cannot always know the gender of a noun, and when we stand at a cashier and would like to pay, the line behind us will not be willing to wait until we find the correct gender of the noun we would like to say in the dictionary. Besides guessing the article, some tiny hints and rules can still help us in these situations. Accordingly, we will discover the usage of the ending “-ung” in this article.
Recommended study materials on the topic:
- A-Grammar: Practice German grammar (incl. answers)
- German self-study book for A1-B1 (incl. answers)
- Schubicards Artikel: der – die – das
- Langenscheid Memo game
- Mindmemo poster – German parts of speech
German nouns with “-ung”
Luckily, there is light at the end of the tunnel because nouns with the ending “-ung” are always female. Therefore you need to use the definite article “die” and the indefinite article “eine”. This is important because otherwise, you cannot adjust your noun according to the grammatical case like Accusative or Dative. Besides, nouns with the ending “-ung” will always become “-ungen” in plural form.
- die Rechnung = die Rechnungen (the invoice/calculation)
- die Einladung = die Einladungen (the invitation)
- die Entdeckung = die Entdeckungen (the discovery)
- die Bedienung = die Bedienungen (the service / the waiter)
The roots of these nouns
Besides the fact that you now always know the gender of these nouns and how they change in plural form, there is another thing you can learn from them.
If you remove the suffix (ending) “-ung(en)” from these nouns, you always receive the stem of the verb that refers to this noun. This means that if you will add the ending “-en” which most German verbs have, you get the verb that describes the act of your noun.
The noun “the invoice/calculation” becomes the verb “to calculate”.
Einlad- = einladen
The noun invitation becomes the verb “to invite”.
Verbs vs. nouns with “-ung”
This system works with all of the nouns that have this ending. This means that when you already know a noun, you can quickly discover the meaning of an accordingly verb. For you, this is good news because it simplifies your life as a German student.
However, this concept does not work the other way around. Therefore, you cannot only use any random verb but also take its stem, add the ending “-ung” and get the noun!
As you can hopefully see in this article, if you know the rules that apply to nouns with “-ung”, you can use this advantage for your everyday life in German.
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