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Genitive case (2. Fall) in German

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What is the Genitive case in German?

The genitive case in German answers the question:

Wessen? - whose / of what?

The genitive is a complement of a noun, that means it completes the noun to which it refers. In English this is often expressed by the preposition of or by 's. In German an apostrophe is not used (but there are some exceptions).


Der Mund des Drachens ist riesig groß. - The mouth of the dragon is huge.

Wessen Mund ist riesig groß? - Whose mouth is huge?des Drachen - of the dragon

Das Dach des Hauses muss repariert werden. - The roof of the house has to be repaired.

Wessen Dach muss repariert werden? - Whose roof has to be repaired?des Hauses - of the house

Der Hund der lieben Frau heißt Paco. - The dog of the lovely woman is called Paco.

Wessen Hund heißt Paco? - Whose dog is called Paco?

der lieben Frau - of the lovely woman


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The declension of the genitive case

Most of the masculine and neuter nouns take the ending -s/-es in the genitive singular. Weak nouns (N-declension) take a -n/-en in genitive singular. Feminine nouns and the plural, on the other hand, do not have any special endings. An -s is added to proper names in the genitive case.

enlightenedKeep in mind: Mixed masculine nouns and nouns formed out of verb infinitive take the ending -s in the genitive singular.


  • die Frau meines Sohnes - the wife of my son
  • ein Foto meines Hauses - a picture of my house
  • die Haare meiner Tochter - the hair of my daughter
  • Luisas Bruder - brother of Luisa

Table of declension of the article and the noun in the genitive case

In this table you can find several examples for the declension of noun and their articles in the different genders. In addition, there are some examples of adjectives that are accompany a noun in the dative case.

With a definite articledes Mannesder Fraudes Kindesder Leute
With an indefinite articleeines Manneseiner Fraueines KindesLeute
With a definite article + adjectivedes guten Manneseiner schönen Fraudes jungen Kindesder alten Leute
With an indefinite article + adjectiveeines guten Manneseiner schönen Fraueines jungen Kindesalter Leute



  • des guten Mannes - of the good man
  • der schönen Frau - of the beautiful woman
  • des jungen Kindes - of the young child
  • der alten Leute - of the old people

Substitute of the genitive case with 'von'

In the spoken language it is very common to use the genitive formed out of von + dative. The table shows some cases in which the genitive is expressed with von + dative. This is often the case when there is no article in front of the noun.

Type of noun


Country namesdie Pizza von Italien - the pizza of Italy.
With (raw) materials

die Gewinnung von Erdöl - the extraction of petroleum

die Farbe von Silber - the colour of silver

Indefinite plurals

der Geschmack von Käse - the taste of cheese

die Klamotten von Kindern - the clothes of children

Personal pronouns

ein Freund von mir - a friend of mine

The genitive of proper names

There are two different ways to form the genitive of proper ways:

  1. the genitive with von
  2. the genitive with -s (possessive genitive) 

The genitive with 'von'

The genitive of proper nouns can be formed using the von preposition before the proper noun. 

enlightenedBe careful: the genitive cases changes into a dative cases then!

Here are some examples:

  • der Bruder von Emma - the brother of Emma
  • das Lied von Mozart - the song of Mozart
  • der Hund von Mario - the dog of Mario

The genitive with -s (possesiv genitive)

The genitive of proper names can also be formed with ending a -s (possessive genitive). Therefore you have to put the name in front of the noun (the possession) and add the suffix -s. In English it is nearly the same, but with an apostrophe.

Here are some examples:

  • Emmas Bruder - Emma's brother
  • Mozarts Lied - Mozart's song
  • Marios Hund - Mario's dog

How do you use the genitive case in German?

There are five different situation when you have to use the German genitive.

  1. To show possession of relationships between two nouns
  2. With expressions of indefinite time
  3. With prepositions
  4. With genitive verbs
  5. With genitive adjectives

Possession of relationships between two nouns

The genitive is used to express possession or a relationship between people and/or objects. In English it is translated with the preposition of or by 's. Answers the question:

Wessen? - whose? of what?


  • Das Spielzeug des Kindes ist blau. - The toy of the child is blue.
  • Der Rock meiner Mutter ist kurz. - The skirt of my mother is short.
  • Der Sohn deines Onkels ist dein Cousin. - The son of you uncle is your cousin.

With expressions of indefinite time

The genitive can also be used as an adverb to give indications about an indefinite duration or period. In English it is expressed by for instance: one day, some day.

  • Eines Tages werden sie heiraten. - One day they will marry.
  • Eines Morgens wurde ich von meiner Mutter geweckt. One morning I was awakened by my mother.
  • Eines Abends habe ich eine Suppe gekocht. - One evening I cooked a soup.

enlightenedThe female noun die Nacht behaves in this case as a masculine or a neutral noun. 

With prepositions

The genitive case used with certain prepositions. You can find them in this table.

während - duringWährend meines Aufenthalts in Hamburg habe ich viele Leute kennengelernt. - During my stay in Hamburg, I met many people. 
trotz - despiteTrotz des Regens spielt er im Garten. - Despite the rain, he plays in the garden
statt/anstatt - insteadStatt des Computers kauft mir meine Mutter das Handy.Instead of the computer, my mother buys the phone from me.
wegen - because ofWegen des Gewitters kann man nicht Fußball spielen. - Because of the storm, you can not play football.
infolge - as a result ofInfolge eines Vorfalls komme ich nicht mehr.As a result of an incident I will not come anymore.
dank - due to/ thanks toDank deiner Bemühungen hast du das Ziel erreicht.Thanks to your efforts, you have reached the goal.
außerhalb, innerhalb, oberhalb, unterhalb - outside, inside, above, belowDie Kinder spielen außerhalb des Hauses. - The children play outside of the house.
um ... willen - for the sake ofUm Himmels willen, warum? - For God's sake, why?
diesseits, jenseits - on this side of, on the other side ofDas Dorf ist diesseits des Sees.The village is on this side of the lake.

With genitive verbs

There are some verbs that are in need of the genitive in German. These shows you some of them with an example. In German it sounds more formal, so that it is not used often.

anklagen - to be chargedSie ist des Mordes angeklagt. She is charged with murder.
bedürfen - to require/to needDer Opa bedarf seiner Medikamente. - The grandpa needs medication.
gedenken - to commemorateWir gedenken der Toten.We commemorate the dead.
beschuldigen - to accuseDer Anwalt beschuldigt mich der Tat. - The lawyer accuses me of the act.
sich einer Sache bedienen - to use one thingDer Dichter bedient sich der Metaphern. - The poet uses the metaphors.

With genitive adjectives

There are some adjectives that are followed by the genitive case. Here a some examples.

sicher - sureIch bin mir der Antwort nicht sicher. - I am not sure about the answer.
bewusst - aware ofEr ist sich seines Fehlers bewusst. - He is aware of his fault.
würdig - worthySie ist dieses Namens würdig. - She is worthy of this name.



  1. Exercise of the German genitive
  2. Exercise of the German genitive

Exercise of the German genitive

Exercise of the German genitive

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