Menu
Search

Adding Endings Posted by on Oct 19, 2021 in Grammar, Pronunciation

Krølle-r-ne på hale-r-ne på gris-e-ne… (The curls on the tails on the pig[let]s…) Endings are an essential part of the Danish language. (Illustrative photo by Gerhard G. from Pixabay; no copyright.)

One of the funny things about Danish is that you can’t avoid adding endings to words. Well, of course English learners also sometimes get confused – how do you add a plural -s to box? But generally, as long as you know how to add an -s1and a few other common endings, such as -ing, -ed and -ly to words, you don’t have to worry about endings in English. Danish is more complex, mainly because – and I’m sure you learnt this early – the is an ending! Yeah, Danes don’t go to ”the party (fest)”, but rather to ”party-the” (fest-en).

The main challenge is knowing which word takes which ending.

Plurals of many Danish nouns (by, træ, kvinde, system – city, tree, woman, system) are made with -er, while many other nouns (hund, kat, ost, hus – dog, cat, cheese, house) take the ending -e, or, in the case of just a few words (år, sværd – year[s], sword[s]), no ending. (And yes, the plurals of some words imported into Danish from other languages2predominantly English, but you’ve also got Spanish plurals such as tapas sneaking into Danish! 🙂 even end in -s.)

• Singular the varies according to the noun’s gender – you have to know whether the word you’re about to use has the common (the = -en) or neuter (-et) gender.

Once you know a noun’s endings (-er/-e/-/-s; -en or -et), you simply add one:

træer, hunde, osten, huset. But what if a word already ends in -e – do you really write kvindeer? 🙂 Naturally, you just remove the -e, then add the ending – kvinder.

Easy, right?

The plural the is -ne3Could also be analysed as -e(r)ne, but I find the -ne breakdown easier. – you simply attach it to the regular plural:

kvinderne, husene, byerne (the women, the houses, the cities)

If the preceding word ends in a consonant, you insert an extra -e-4Originally this was done for pronunciation’s sake; nowadays Danish pronunciation is so blurred that it’s mostly a spelling convention! 😀 There’s hardly any difference between årene or år’ne, for instance.:

mændene, årene, drinksene (the men, the years, the drinks)

NB1! Some words already end in -er in the singular. Very often, these nouns denote persons – such as bager (baker) or svensker (Swede). Even though they do have -e plurals (bagere, svenskere), the -ne is added to their basic form: bagerne, svenskerne.

NB2! A few short words end in -p, -t or -k. This letter is always doubled before endings:

top > toppen (the top), flot karakter > flotte karakterer (nice grades), tak > jeg takker jer (I thank you!)

  • 1
    and a few other common endings, such as -ing, -ed and -ly
  • 2
    predominantly English, but you’ve also got Spanish plurals such as tapas sneaking into Danish! 🙂
  • 3
    Could also be analysed as -e(r)ne, but I find the -ne breakdown easier.
  • 4
    Originally this was done for pronunciation’s sake; nowadays Danish pronunciation is so blurred that it’s mostly a spelling convention! 😀 There’s hardly any difference between årene or år’ne, for instance.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Keep learning Danish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


Leave a comment: