Nominative Case

What is 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 is „Wer?“ or „Was?“
  • The nominative case is also used after the verbs sein, werden und bleiben. (Warning: In this case it is not the subject!

Nominative Case – Examples

  • Das Pferd ist weiß.” 
  • Der Mann schenkt der Frau die Blumen. “
  • “Den Ball hat der Junge zum Geburtstag bekommen.”

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

Use of the Nominative Case

Use: the Subject

  • Das Pferd ist weiß.“ 
  • Der Mann schenkt der Frau die Blumen.“ 
  • „Den Ball hat der Junge zum Geburtstag bekommen.“

The subject is always in the nominative case! No Exceptions!!

(Info: The subject is the person/thing that is acting. It tells you how to conjugate the verb.)

Use: the Subject Complement

The verbs sein, werden und bleiben use a subject complement. That means we use the nominative even though it´s not the subject.

  • „Du bist ein guter Schüler.“
  • „Er ist der Beste!“
  • „Du willst einmal ein Lehrer werden.“

The subject complement is not the subject, but it describes a characteristic of the subject and therefore is in the nominative case.

Warning about the Subject Complement:

It is only the subject complement when „werden“ or „sein“ is the main verb of the sentence.

  • „Er ist der Beste.“ 

⇒ Sein („ist“) is the main verb.

  • „Er ist zu dem Mann gegangen.“

⇒ Sein („ist“) is only a helping verb (used to help create the perfect tense) ⇒ no nominative case after „sein“

Tip – Where does subject go?

The subject is often at the beginning of the sentence, but it can also be in the middle.

  • Der Junge hat den Ball zum Geburtstag bekommen“
  • „Den Ball hat der Junge zum Geburtstag bekommen“

If there is somethings else that´s more important, then the person/thing that is performing the action (the subject) goes behind the conjugated verb. (More information: Sentence Structure)

Further Information:

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

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