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The German Cases

In German there are 4 Cases:

  1. Nominative
  2. Accusative
  3. Dative
  4. Genitive

In all units I highlight the 4 German cases with the following colours in order to make it easier for you to memorize and identify them

Examples:

Das Pferd ist weiß.“   (das Pferd = nominative)

„Das Pferd des Bauers ist weiß.“  (des Bauers = genitive)

„Der Mann schenkt der Frau das Pferd.“ (der Frau = dative)  (das Pferd = accusative)

This unit gives you an overview of the four German cases. You will find exceptions, more detailed information about the usage and further examples in the particular unit about each case: nominative, accusative, dative and genitive.

What is a Case?

  • German grammar has 4 cases.
  • The nouns in a sentence have different functions.
  • The noun takes a different case depending on which function it has.

⇒ The case explains which function the noun has and how the noun relates to the other words in the sentence.

The Nominative Case

  • The nominative case is the base form of the noun and describes the subject (the person or thing that performs the action)!
  • It is the word that tells you how to conjugate the verb.
  • The question for the nominative case is „wer“ or „was“?
  • The nominative case is also used after the verbs „sein“, „werden“, and „bleiben“ (Warning: In such sentences, it is NOT the subject!).

Declension in Nominative Case:

The article must match the case:

Definite Article
Indefinite Article
Masculineder MannMasculineein Mann
Femininedie FrauFeminineeine Frau
Neuterdas KindNeuterein Kind
Pluraldie ElternPlural- Eltern

The Nominative Case – Examples:

  • Das Pferd ist weiß.“

Who ist white? – Das Pferd!

„Das Pferd“ is the subject and third person singular ⇒ „ist“.

  • Der Junge spielt Ball.“

Who is playing ball? – Der Junge!

„Der Junge“ is the subject and third person singular ⇒ „spielt“.

Nominative Case
Cases │ Nominative case │ Usage, Declension, examples and an easy explanation about nominative case. │ When do we use nominative case? │ Irregularities?

The Accusative Case

  • We use the accusative case after certain verbs and prepositions.
  • It is also known as the direct object.
  • The direct object is the thing that is acted upon (it „receives“ the action).
  • The question for the accusative case is : „Wen?“ or „Was?“

Declension in Accusative Case:

The article must match the case:

Definite Article
Indefinite Article
Masculineden MannMasculineeinen Mann
Femininedie FrauFeminineeine Frau
Neuterdas KindNeuterein Kind
Pluraldie ElternPlural- Eltern

The Accusative Case – Examples:

  • „Der Mann hat ein Pferd.“

What does the man have?  – Ein Pferd!

The accusative case is always used after the verb „haben“. The noun in the accusative case is also the direct object.

  • „Der Junge schenkt einer Freundin die Blumen.“

What does the boy give to a friend? – Die Blumen!

„Die Blumen“ is the direct object, which receives the action.

Accusative Case
Cases │ Accusative Case │ Usage, Declension, examples and an easy explanation about accusative case. │ When do we use accusative case? │ Irregularities?

The Dative Case

  • We use the dative case after certain verbs and prepositions.
  • It is also known as indirect object.
  • The indirect object is normally the noun that receives something (normally the direct object, which is in the accusative case).
  • The question for the dative case is „Wem?“ or „Was?“

Declension in Dative Case:

The article must match the case:

Definite Article
Indefinite Article
Masculinedem MannMasculineeinem Mann
Feminineder FrauFeminineeiner Frau
Neuterdem KindNeutereinem Kind
Pluralden ElternPlural- Eltern

The Dative Case – Examples:

  • „Das Auto gehört dem Mann.“

To whom does the car belong? – Dem Mann!

The verb „gehören“ always requires the dative case.

  • „Der Junge schenkt einer Freundin die Blumen.“

To whom did the boy give the flowers? – Einer Freundin!

„Freundin“ is the indirect object. She receives the flowers.

The Dative Case
Cases │ Dative case │ Usage, Declension, examples and an easy explanation about dative case. │ When do we use dative case? │ Irregularities? │ EasyDeutsch

The Genitive Case

  • The genitive case shows possession or belonging.
  • It is used in noun-noun constructions.
  • The genitive case is used after certain verbs, prepositions, and adjectives.
  • The question for the genitive case is „Wessen?“
  • Masculine and neuter nouns get an extra „s“ or „es“ -ending.

Declension in Genitive Case:

The article must match the verb:

Definite Article
Indefinite Article
Masculinedes MannMasculineeines Mann
Feminineder FrauFeminineeiner Frau
Neuterdes KindNeutereines Kind
Pluralder ElternPlural- Eltern

The Genitive Case – Examples:

  • „Das Pferd des Bauers ist weiß.“

Whose horse is white? – Des Bauers!

Noun-noun construction ⇒ Genitiv

  • „Während des Spiels verletzt er sich.“

The preposition „während“ requires the genitive case – des Spiels.

The Genitive Case
Cases │ Genitive case │ Usage, Declension, examples and an easy explanation about genitive case. │ When do we use genitive case? │ Irregularities?

The German Cases Summary

Further Information


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