The nouns of the German language have several properties, some unique. As in many related Indo-European languages, German nouns possess a grammatical gender; the three genders are masculine, feminine, and neuter. Words for objects without obvious masculine or feminine characteristics like 'bridge' or 'rock' can be masculine or feminine. German nouns are declined (change form) depending on their grammatical case (their function in a sentence) and whether they are singular or plural. German has four cases: nominative, accusative, dative and genitive.
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German is unusual among languages using the Latin alphabet in that all nouns are capitalized (for example, "the book" is always written as "das Buch").. Other High German languages, such as Luxembourgish, also capitalize both proper and common nouns. Only a handful of other languages capitalize their nouns, mainly regional languages with orthographic conventions inspired by German, such as Low German and Saterland Frisian. Under the influence of German, the Scandinavian languages formerly capitalized their nouns; Danish retained the habit until 1948.
Noun compounds are written together with no spacing (for example, the German word for "spy satellite" is "Spionagesatellit"). Plurals are normally formed by adding -e, -en, -er (or nothing) to the noun, and sometimes a vowel is also changed (the so-called umlaut). Moreover, recent loanwords from French and English often keep the -s plural ending.