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Rules for words of fiction in German?

Say I was writing a book in German, and I wanted to create a specie that I decided to name "Klaufer"s. Is there any set rules that say what gendered article I'm supposed to assign to it? ( der, das, die ), or can I choose whatever I wan't?, and how about plurals?, should I only add an "s", or could I change the word to something like Kläufer?

Are there any rules to words created by a writer, or are writers free to choose whatever they wan't for a word?

( drawing was made by me, using Fire Alpaca )

July 8, 2017



Hey! Fellow German learner here!

My take on it is: as with any work of fiction, you can do whatever you want; first and foremost (in any language). What may play a role in your decision is how easy it is to be understood, and how easy it is to follow. If it follows a general trend with other pre-existing German words, then that should make it easier to understand.

So, with this specific example: automatically my brain told me "Klaufer" would be masculine (therefore "der" in the nominative case). The two reasons behind this are:

  • Words ending in "er" are typically masculine (more on that below)

  • "Klaufer" looks pretty close to "Käufer", which is masculine

With the plural form, I believe there would be even less consensus between German speakers. Personally, I prefer the umlaut (or possibly even leave it completely unchanged) over the "s" ending. There are two reasons behind this also, which are:

  • Using the umlaut or leaving the word unchanged allows for the dative "n" ending (more on that below)

  • I feel the "s" ending is typically an anglicism, and is generally only used for Denglisch/imported words

Once again, this is just my take and I think you can do what you want; but following well-known trends should help it to be more easily understood.

This section is just for anyone that's interested

Typical Genders for Word Endings

From a few resources I've used in the past I've found some word endings that are a pretty good indicator of a word's gender.

A quick caveat:
Some of these are universal and others have several exceptions; but all are correct in at least the majority of cases.

  • Masculine: Der -ig-ling-or-ismus-ant-er

  • Neuter: Das -o-ma-ment-chen-ing-lein-um

  • Feminine: Die -ei-heit-e-schaft-ion-ie-keit-tät-ik-ur-ung

The Dative "n"

Pretty much what is says on the tin. The vast majority of words add an ending of "n" in the plural dative case. (Exceptions include plural words that already end in "n" and plural words that end in "s")

Example: der Schüler

  • Nominative - singular: der Schüler; plural: die Schüler

  • Accusative - singular: den Schüler; plural: die Schüler

  • Dative - singular: dem Schüler; plural: den Schülern

  • Genitive - singular: des Schülers; plural: der Schüler

Example sentence:

Ich gehe mit den Schülern in die Schule.

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Hallo Adam, ich mag beide Ibibs8 und deine Antwort auf diese Frage. Es ist hilfreich. - Susan

P.S. (Does German have a P.S.?) Wie du schon wisst, nehme ich jede Gelegenheit, ich kann mein Deutsch üben.


Hallo, Adam! Das mit dem "er" am Ende und dem männlichen Geschlecht wird aber sehr häufig durchbrochen: "Das Opfer", "die Natter", "die Kammer", in Österreich auch "die Butter" (in Vorarlberg und der Schweiz übrigens "das Butter"). Aber du hast mich auf etwas anderes gebracht: Mehrzahl könnte auch "die Klaufern" sein - zumindest in meine Ohren. Klingt das für Norddeutsche zu Bayrisch?


Usually, with "er" at the end the gender is male, though as a German native speaker I wouldn't object to a neuter gender either. Only "die Klaufer" (singular) would sound odd, although I can't think of any grammar rule against it. As a plural it could be "die Klaufer" oder "die Kläufer". Die Klaufers would be an Anglicism. Klaufer sounds to me like a mixture of "Läufer" (runner, from "laufen" to run) and "Klauer" (colloquial for thief), but also reminds me of "Käufer" (buyer). So I'm really interested in what a Klaufer does! There are no rules for inventing new words, but a lot of things sound odd to German ears. For instance we don't usually create nouns out of verbs and vice versa as English native speakers do all the time. But I can't point my finger to any specifics right now. Would have to look it up myself, if there are any official rules, and I doubt there are.


Danke für Ihre Antwort!, es war sehr hilfreich!


Ich werde dich einen Klaufer nennen. (Akkusative!) or Ich werde dich Klaufer nennen. (without article, like you would give someone a nickname).

Its your word, you can decide the Plural. If you wish to make it Kläufer or Klaufers, its up to you, if you decide the Plural of Klaufer is Klauferetti (then the plural nominative is like this, the rest will be indeclinable and just looks like this) , then it is like this. Foreign word and new creations are flexible, but they will still have a gender and the article follows the declination even when the noun is indeclinable.


I was treating the word as if it was "das Klaufer" ( neuter gender ) in the sentence. I believe the accusative neuter form of "ein" is still "ein".


Great question--I love this question! I asked something like it very recently. Here are the responses I got.


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LavethWolf - Cool drawing. I think you got the answers you needed already but I had to compliment your drawing. You can call me Susan, - Susan


Thank you Susan!

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