One of my favorite stories in German is Rhabarberbarbara (Rhubarb Barbara). It is a great video that shows you how to build compound nouns in German. The German text to the story of Rhabarberbarbara along with an English translation is included below.

    Rhabarberbarbara Text in German

    In einem kleinen Dorf wohnte einst ein Mädchen mit dem Namen Barbara. Barbara war in der ganzen Gegend für ihren ausgezeichneten Rhabarberkuchen bekannt. Da jeder so gerne Barbaras Rhabarberkuchen aß, nannte man sie Rhabarberbarbara.

    Rhabarberbarbara merkte bald, dass sie mit ihrem Rhabarberkuchen Geld verdienen könnte. Daher eröffnete sie eine Bar: Die Rhabarberbarbarabar.

    Natürlich gab es in der Rhabarberbarbarabar bald Stammkunden. Die bekanntesten unter Ihnen, drei Barbaren, kamen so oft in die Rhabarberbarbarabar um von Rhabarberbarbaras Rhabarberkuchen zu essen, dass man sie kurz die Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren nannte.

    Die Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren hatten wunderschöne dichte Bärte. Wenn die Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren ihren Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbart pflegten, gingen sie zum Barbier.

    Der einzige Barbier, der einen Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbart bearbeiten konnte, wollte das natürlich betonen und nannte sich Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbier.

    Der Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbier kannte von den Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren Rhabarberbarbaras herlichen Rhabarberkuchen und trank dazu immer ein Bier, das er liebevoll Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbier nannte.

    Das Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbier konnte man nur an einer ganz bestimmten Bar kaufen. Die Verkäuferin des Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbieres an der Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbierbar hieß Bärbel.

    Nach dem stutzen des Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbarts ging der Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbier meist mit den Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren in die Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbierbar zu Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbierbarbärbel um sie mit zur Rhabarberbarbarabar zu nehmen um etwas von Rhabarberbarbaras herrlichem Rhabarberkuchen zu essen. Prost.

    Rhabarberbarbara Text in English

    In a small village there once lived a girl with the name Barbara. Barbara was known in the entire area for her excellent rhubarb pie. Because everyone liked eating Barbara’s rhubarb pie so much, they called her Rhubarb Barbara.

    Rhubarb Barbara soon realized that she could make money with her rhubarb pie. Therefore she opened a bar: The Rhubarb Barbara Bar.

    Of course there were soon regular customers in the Rhubarb Barbara Bar. The most famous among them, three barbarians, came so often to the Rhubarb Barbara Bar in order to eat of Rhubarb Barbaras rhubarb pie, that they soon were called the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians.

    The Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians had wonderful thick beards. When the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians wanted to tend to their Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarian beards, they went to the barber.

    The only barber who could work on a Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarian beard of course wanted to highlight that and named himself the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarian Beard Barber.

    The Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarian Beard Barber knew from the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians about Rhubarb Barbara’s marvelous rhubarb pie and always drank a beer with it that he lovingly called Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarian Beard Barber Beer.

    The Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarian Beard Barber Beer could only be purchased at a very special bar. The sales woman of the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarian Beard Barber Bier at the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarian Beard Barber Bier Bar was called Bärbel.

    After pruning the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarian Beards, the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarian Beard Barber mostly with the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarians went to the Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarian Beard Barber Bier Bar to Rhubarb Barbara Bar Barbarian Beard Barber Bier Bar Bärbel in order to take her along to the Rhubarb Barbara Bar in order to eat some of Rhubarb Barbara’s superb rhubarb pie. Cheers.

    A Bit About German Compound Nouns

    In German, you can make a ton of great nouns in German by putting other nouns together. In general there aren’t very many rules for doing this, but there are a few. The main one is that the gender of the last noun in the compound noun dictates the gender of the entire compound noun.

    Let’s take a look at the examples from the video in order to examine this rule in more detail.

    Rhabarber (plural)
    +Kuchen (masculine)
    = der Rhabarberkuchen

    Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbaren (plural)
    +Bart (masculine)
    = der Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbart

    Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbier (masculine)
    +Bier (neuter)
    = Rhabarberbarbarabarbarbarenbartbarbierbier (neuter)

    Adding -S to German Compound Nouns

    Occasionally, you have to add a few other letters in between the nouns. The most common of these letters is “s”. This can occasionally be used to show ownership between the nouns. Other times, it is to aid pronunciation. Some of the more common times that you use an “s” are with the following endings: -keit, -heit, -tät, -ung, and -schaft. Take a look at these examples.

    das Jahr
    + die Zeit
    = die Jahreszeit (possessive -es added)

    die Einsamkeit
    + das Gefühl
    = das Einsamkeitsgefühl (-s added)

    die Gesundheit
    + die Karte
    = die Gesundheitskarte (-s added)

    die Universität
    + die Mensa
    = die Universitätsmensa (-s added)

    die Reinigung
    + das Mittel
    = das Reinigungsmittel

    die Freundschaft
    + der Ring
    = der Freundschaftsring

    Adding -N or -EN to German Compound Nouns

    Occasionally, you will need to add an -n or -en between the words. This happens most often if the first noun ends with an -e. Check out these examples.

    der Löwe
    + der Zahn
    = der Löwenzahn

    die Klasse
    + das Zimmer
    = das Klassenzimmer

    While there are other letters that you will sometimes need to add in the middle of your compound nouns, they don’t have such solid rules for when you use them, so I will just say that they exist and you will pick them up the more you see compound nouns in German sentences. So, go out and read some German stories and articles and look for the compound nouns. Try to break them apart and see if there are any letters that were added. If there were, what were they and why were they added?

    Herr Antrim

    Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites. *This site uses Amazon Affiliate links. If there is a link that leads to Amazon, it is very likely an affiliate link for which Herr Antrim will receive a small portion of your purchase. This does not cost you any extra, but it does help keep this website going.