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We use the diminutive form ‑chen to indicate that something is “small” or “cute”. It can be added to most nouns in German.
das Tier das Tierchen
the animal the little animal, the little critter
der Stern das Sternchen
the star the little star
If the noun contains an a, o or u we generally add an umlaut to it. We also generally remove the final ‑e, if there is one.
der Schatz das Schätzchen
the treasure little treasure, darling, sweetheart
die Torte das Törtchen
the cake the little cake
die Blume das Blümchen
the flower the cute little flower
- All diminutive nouns are neuter.
der Haifisch das Haifischchen
the shark the baby shark
die Katze das Kätzchen
the cat the pussycat, the kitten
- The alternative diminutive ending -lein is mainly used for words that end in ‑ch. It can be used with other words too, but that sounds somewhat old-fashioned.
das Buch das Büchlein
the book the little book
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