Nouns can be conjugated

Inflectable parts of speech

Which types of words can be inflected and how do you designate the different inflections? This question about German grammar will be investigated in the following blog post.

Info: The term "flexion" comes from the Latin verb "flectere", which means something like "to bend". So inflectable parts of speech are inflected. 

What is a part of speech anyway?

German grammar understands the term “part of speech” to mean the different categories into which the words of the German language can be classified. The most important of them are nouns and verbs. These are an essential part of a German sentence, because a correct German sentence always consists of a subject (i.e. a noun), object (also a noun) and predicate (i.e. the verb, which can, however, also consist of several partial words) . Other parts of speech are as follows:

  • adjective
  • adverb
  • items
  • Interjection
  • conjunction
  • Numerals
  • preposition
  • Pronouns (also an inflected part of speech)
  • Subjunction

What types of inflections are there?

Which of these examples are inflectable parts of speech? The bottom line is that there are two types of inflection, called declination and conjugation. Nouns, pronouns and adjectives are declined, but only verbs are conjugated.

What does conjugation mean?

If you conjugate a verb, you literally change its shape, that is, you change the original form. With the so-called primary conjugation you change the person (I, you, he / she / it, we, you, they) or the number (singular vs. plural, dual vs. trial). In the so-called secondary conjugation, the property of the verb is changed with regard to the tense (i.e. its time - present, past, future), the mode (indicative, subjunctive, imperative) and the gender of the verb (active, passive).

An incomplete example table shows the different possibilities for conjugating a verb:

Inf .: walk

Present, indicative, active

Present,

Subjunctive I, active

Present,

Subjunctive II, active

Future tense I,

Indicative,

active

etc.

1st person Sing.

go

go

would go

will go

 

2nd person Sing.

go

go

went

will go

 

3rd person Sing.

goes

go

would go

will go

 

1st person Pl.

walk

walk

went

will go

 

2nd person Pl.

goes

go

went

will go

 

3rd person Pl.

walk

walk

went

will go

 

What does declination mean?

On the other hand, nouns and their often connected adjectives are declined. With nouns only two things are declined, namely the case (the case) and the number (the number) of a word. If the gender is changed, on the other hand, one speaks of derivation (that is, “derivation”). In the case of adjectives, however, the genera can also be declined. The noun “Beruf” shows how the word and its respective article can be changed.

Example 1: the job

 

Singular

Plural

1. nominative (who?)

the job

the professions

2. Genitive (whose?)

of the profession

of professions

3. Dative (whom?)

the profession

the professions

4. Accusative (whom?)

the job

the professions

The situation is very similar with adjectives, which can also be seen in an example. To this end, we add the adjective “beautiful” to “the profession”.

Example 2: the beautiful job

 

Singular

Plural

1. nominative (who?)

the beautiful job

the beautiful professions

2. Genitive (whose?)

of the beautiful profession

of beautiful professions

3. Dative (whom?)

the beautiful job

the beautiful professions

4. Accusative (whom?)

the beautiful job

the beautiful professions

Attention: In this case, the gender could also be declined, but “the profession” is masculine and therefore remains unchanged.

What about pronouns?

If a pronoun is used instead of a noun / noun, it is also declinable. Here, German grammar differentiates between gender, number and case.

Memory aid:

So there are only four inflected parts of speech. Three of them are declined (nouns, pronouns and adjectives), the fourth is conjugated (verbs). There are numerous tables on the Internet that you can use in case of doubt, if you are not sure about a shape.