This question is actually spawned from a rather embarrassing personal blunder years ago, that was that when I had first begun to learning an heavily inflected language, I had made the mistake of assuming that if an article declined, then it carried enough grammatical information that the noun went undeclined.

Now the reason why I ask this is because it was natural for me -- different things are natural for different people, but I do declare that if it was for me, could it have been for another culture?


Because it has been requested, here is a made up example, using some Old English declensions mixed with Contemporary english:

Let's take the undeclined word King, it's article is þe. If the word is in nominative, the undeclined form, one says þe King, if it is plural, then a man says þa kings, if it is in dative, then it is, for singular, þæm Kinge, plural, þam Kingum, if it is accusative, then it is þone/þa king/kings.

So what I am asking is, is there a language that will, instead of declining the noun and making the article agree with it, will instead decline the article and leave the noun be, so instead of saying: Iċ geaf þam kingum þæt sweord, you would instead say I gave þam king the sword; this being done because the article carries the necessary grammatical information to tell you the gender and number of the noun King.


I felt that using "king" instead of "cyning" would push the point across a bit easier.

  • Can you give an example, even if made up, just to make this more clear?
    – Mitch
    Sep 29, 2017 at 20:39
  • 4
    German is almost there, you can probably find some dialect or closely related language where only modifiers and pronouns are declined. Sep 29, 2017 at 20:45
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    Yes, Macedonian in an earlier stage and to some extent today’s Macedonian dialects in Albania. There are examples in Blaže Koneski’s “A history of Macedonian”.
    – Atamiri
    Sep 29, 2017 at 23:25
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    When I was working on a conlang earlier, I wanted to give the lang a reason to have had articles and strong and weak declension, so I decided to do something similar to a Germanic language's weak declension of articles, but for nouns with articles. If an adjective has an article with it, then the adjective's declension becomes weak, as the article carries the information. E.g.: Blauer Mann = Der blaue Mann. Something like that, but with nouns instead. This was the mistake I had made years ago with nouns and articles, though. Sep 30, 2017 at 2:55
  • I'm not really sure what you're looking for, but have you looked at danish?
    – virmaior
    Sep 30, 2017 at 16:09

2 Answers 2


I think French is very close to what you are looking for. Most nouns are pronounced identically in the singular and plural (though the plural is mostly still written with a silent “s”), but number and case are indicated audibly by articles. Thus:

singular: le garçon

plural: les garçon(s)

possessive singular: les main(s) du garçon

possessive plural: les main(s) des garçon(s)

singular indirect object : donne-le au garçon

and so forth.

  • 1
    Thank you, I didn't think about that, that's one example of a spoken form. Sep 30, 2017 at 17:04

It is common to drop the plural from nouns when they are preceded by plural forms of determiners or numerals in spoken Brazilian Portuguese, but this is considered non-standard/uneducated speech by people who pay attention to it.

Eu vi os menino[s]. - I saw the boy[s].

Eu vi aqueles menino[s]. - I saw those boy[s].

Ela tem dois gato[s]. - She has two cat[s].

  • Interesting, that is what I am looking for, behaviour like that. Dec 18, 2017 at 19:31

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