Questions?

Check our FAQs for the quickest support.

FAQ

Did not find your answer?
Contact us

Genitive case (2. Fall) in German

Our teachers

Looking for a language tutor? Contact one of our teachers!

Find a teacher

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).

EsempioDomandaRisposta

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

 

Have a question?

Take online language lessons with a professional teacher

  1. Native & verified teachers
  2. Free trial lesson
  3. Learning materials included

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.

Examples

  • 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.

 MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
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

 

Translation

  • 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

 

Example
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?

Examples:

  • 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.

PrepositionsExample
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.

VerbExample
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.

AdjectiveExamples 
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.

 


Exercises

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

Exercise of the German genitive


Exercise of the German genitive


What our students say

Unlike in other platforms, all our teachers are manually verified by our professional team. Trust in the experiences of our students.
4.96/5
Hands down one of the best teachers I've had the pleasure of working with. Very knowledgeable in all aspects of Bulgarian (grammar rules, expressions, ...) but also in both English and French, which helps whenever you have a more in-depth question on the how or why something is the way it is in Bulgarian. Furthermore he has his own material and always comes prepared, but he is equally open to changing the subject of a lesson to suit your needs. He is patient, positive and not too scholarly, which is what you need as an adult learning day- to- day Bulgarian.I have been working with him for 18 months now and still look forward to our lessons every week.
An's Bulgarian has tremendously improved since she gave it go a year and a half ago. Of course, It goes without saying that I am pleased to work with such an enthusiastic learner who is living proof that, through hard work and perseverance, everyone can succeed in their language goals. An, you are now an independant user of the language who is able to successfully lead real-live conversations. Pat yourself on the back.
5/5
Elena is an excellent teacher and a very nice person. I have been training in Spanish with Elena for quite some time now after her being recommended to me by a friend, and have consistently been very pleased with our lessons. While I do not consider myself to be very good at learning foreign languages, Elena is very patient and adapts the lessons to my ability, making me feel at ease. In fact, I find her to be extremely skilled at assessing exactly where I am at any given time with respect to my individual learning situation, and structuring the lessons accordingly. I think I probably would have given up trying to learn Spanish had I not began my study with Elena; and that would have been a shame considering where I am now with the language. Because of Elena's skilled help, I am extremely pleased to not only be conversant in basic Spanish, but also have confidence that I will one day reach full proficiency with the language. No other learning method I tried before meeting Elena compares to the one-on-one, personalized instruction I receive from her, which comprises reading; writing; developmental exercises; and most importantly, conversation. To be able to look at Spanish now and have it appear largely familiar is extremely satisfying. I even plan to study Italian with Elena after reaching my desired level in Spanish. These are not things I ever imagined would occur at the beginning stages of my studies. I am a native English speaker and find Elena's English to be excellent. She had no difficulty instructing me from the very beginning levels where it was necessary that a lot of English be spoken in our lessons, to where we are now with much less English being spoken. The friend who recommended Elena to me learned Dutch from her, and is equally pleased with their experience. I would not hesitate to learn from Elena any of the languages she teaches. I give Elena my highest recommendations and thank her for all the help she has provided me.
Thank you for your feedback, Brandon! I am very happy to know that you are so satisfied with the lessons. I've always believed that you could make it and I am glad that we never gave it up. The right attitude and a high level of perseverance have been the keys to your success. It has been a pleasure to be your guide in your learning process. I know that you can do much more, so let's continue towards a next level!
5/5
Again a lesson full of fun anf full of learning opportunities. I really like Angels patience and ability to adapt to my learning process.
This student is one of the best ones I ever had in my long teaching career. She is always so diligent and willing to learn more and more. I am so happy to work with her and see the immense progress she has made since we first started working together. Thank you Silke!
5/5
I would highly recommend Tove. Her lessons are fantastic and I learn exactly what I'm interested in. Tove is very friendly, our chemistry goes well together and I really enjoy being tought by her.
Dear Anita, Thank you very much for your nice review! I enjoy our lessons very much too and I am so happy that our communication and chemistry fit well together. That's the best precondition for a good learning experience. See you soon!
5/5
We are an Italian family residing in France for 3 months, we have two 10 year old children who have just started attending CM1. We asked Natalia to give the children two lessons a week to speed up their learning. We are super happy with the choice. Nous sommes une famille italienne résidant en France depuis janvier, nous avons deux enfants de 10 ans qui viennent de commencer la CM1. Nous avons demandé à Natalia de leur donner deux leçons par semaine pour accélérer leur apprentissage. Nous sommes super contents de Natalia. We are an Italian family living in France since 3 months, we have two 10 year old children who have just started attending CM1. We asked Natalia to give the kids two lessons a week to speed up their learning. We are super happy with this choice.
Translated by Google Translate
Fabrizio's children are learning French very fast, I have the impression that these lessons online have been helpful for them and I am sure they will master the language easily. They are very interested in learning.
5/5
Daniela is a very pleasant and brisk teacher who has the talent to make you feel at ease immediately. Her lessons are a nice mix of conversation and theory. Again and again it is a nice hour to look forward to !! Thank you Daniela !!
Translated by Google Translate
Dear Hilde, thank you very much for your words. I'm glad you are satisfied with our time together. I will continue to do my best to make you practice your beautiful Italian in a cheerful and peaceful way :-)
Translated by Google Translate
5/5
It is always a pleasure to have English lessons with Corinne. The lessons are always a lot of fun and extremely interesting concerning on current affairs and unfortunately the time always ends too early. Very recommended.
Thank you, Danilo. It is always a pleasure having lessons with you and I have enjoyed our many conversations together. And what a joy that over time they have become easier for both of us to understand! :D
5/5
Carmen is really prepared and very very nice. She takes you by the hand and introduces you to portuguese language in a really pleasant way. I learned 3-4 sentences already on the first lesson!
Fabia is a very nice student and learns very quickly. It is a pleasure to teach her as she really likes to learn a difficult language like Portuguese and improved a lot.
5/5
It was very nice to take a lesson from Theano (Anny). She is adaptable to the student's level and is prepared to help the student as necessary. She is a friendly and caring teacher!
Σ' ευχαριστώ πολύ Μέγκαν! I'm glad you had a good experience and that you enjoyed it. Your excitment about learning greek motivates me even more :)
5/5
Marissa is a very professional teacher who can put the student at ease. It is precise, effective and oriented towards achieving the objectives: highly recommended.
Translated by Google Translate
Thanks so much Paola!!! I LOVE working with you guys and have enjoyed every moment. Even after this brief period, we can already start to see some changes. :-)
5/5
I have had many lessons with Luisa and I always look forward to them. We begin by chatting about the past week's events and them move to Espresso which I find very useful as a good review of material I have done in the past. There is often additional words used I had not met before. Luisa is always a pleasure to talk with and is a kind and pleasant teacher. She corrects me gently and offers useful words or meanings when appropriate.
Dear Martin thank you so much ! It's my pleasure taking class with you. And thanks a lot for your suggestion about Us movies ( Just Mercy) or Us books
5/5
I had my first lesson a couple of days ago and everything went super good! Karin was attentive, transmiting her positivism and helping me with every doubt I had. She really focus on teaching how to pronounce and talk a language, so this is really interesting for me, to practise it & be able to use it in my day by day. I really recommend her to everyone willing to learn a new language :)
Hi Alba! Thank you so much for your wonderful review! I enjoyed our class too & I wish you the best of luck with all your future projects :-)
5/5
A prepared and kind teacher, ready to teach with patience and good humor. He provided me with very useful materials to study and review even after the lesson. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn a language with a smile. Thanks Silvia :)
Translated by Google Translate
Thank you so much for the Chiara review! It was a real pleasure to have this lesson with you. I wish you a nice trip with the German language!
Translated by Google Translate
5/5
The lesson with Celia was perfect! She was puntcual, kind and her teaching method is effective and funny. She started the class with some "games" to get to know eachother and then we discussed about an article she provided. The time of the class passed really fast and I learned new vocabulary. Absolutely raccomended.
Thank you so much, Remark! I´m happy to know you enjoyed our lesson and I´m looking forward to having more in the near future! Cheers!
5/5
Ekaterina writes new words and sentences learnt during the lesson. She has got a very nice attitude and great accent! A pleasure to work with... yes, even in German!!!!!
Dear Silvia, thank you very much for your feedback! It's a real pleasure to have classes with you, and I hope you find them useful!
5/5