-chen n (genitive -chens, plural -chen)
- nowadays the most common German suffix to create a diminutive form; e.g. Hund ("dog") → Hündchen ("little dog")
- Words ending in the suffix -chen are always neuter, whatever gender the basic word.
- Generally, with few exceptions, diminutives with -chen have an umlauted stem vowel. Double vowels must be singled as the combinations ää and öö are not permitted in modern German orthography (e.g. Härchen from Haar, Bötchen from Boot).
- Words ending in -ch (and some others) use the double suffix -elchen, e.g. Strichelchen from Strich. However, the suffix -lein is quite common for these words in writing (Strichlein).
- Some words also have a (dated or colloquial) plural in -erchen, e.g. Häuschen, Hühnchen, Kindchen, Lämmchen, Liedchen, Männchen.