In German, as in English, we can combine several words to create a new noun. Words created like this are called compound nouns, or compound words. The last word in a compound noun is the most important as it determines the gender, while the words before it provide more detail about the noun.
der Taucher + die Brille = die Taucherbrille
the diver + the goggles = the diving goggles
die Sonne + die Brille = die Sonnenbrille
the sun + the glasses = the sunglasses
die Brille + der Träger = der Brillenträger
the glasses + the wearer = the wearer of glasses
There are several ways to form compound words:
- We can simply combine several words.
alt + der Bau = der Altbau
old + the building = the old building
die Lippen + der Stift = der Lippenstift
the lips + the pen = the lipstick
- Many nouns ending in -tum, -ing, -heit, -keit, -schaft, -ung, -ät and infinitives used as nouns are joined with an -s- in between them.
essen → das Essen + die Zeit = die Essenszeit
to eat → the food + the time = the mealtime
die Qualität + die Kontrolle = die Qualitätskontrolle
the quality + the control = the quality control
der Liebling + das Essen = das Lieblingsessen
the favorite + the food = the favorite food
- Some nouns are joined with -n-:
die Sonne + die Blume = die Sonnenblume
the sun + the flower = the sunflower
die Nummer + das Schild = das Nummernschild
the number + the plate = the number plate
- When using a verb to form a compound word, we leave out the last syllable:
schwimmen + das Bad = das Schwimmbad
to swim + the bath = the swimming pool
malen + die Farbe = die Malfarbe
to paint + the color = the paint color
In compound words, the article and the plural are determined by the last noun in the combination.
das Wort + die Kunst = die Wortkunst
the word + the art = the word art
das Wort + die Künste = die Wortkünste
the word + the arts = the word arts
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