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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
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.
Keep in mind: Mixed masculine nouns and nouns formed out of verb infinitive take the ending -s in the genitive singular.
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 article||des Mannes||der Frau||des Kindes||der Leute|
|With an indefinite article||eines Mannes||einer Frau||eines Kindes||Leute|
|With a definite article + adjective||des guten Mannes||einer schönen Frau||des jungen Kindes||der alten Leute|
|With an indefinite article + adjective||eines guten Mannes||einer schönen Frau||eines jungen Kindes||alter Leute|
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 names||die 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
der Geschmack von Käse - the taste of cheese
die Klamotten von Kindern - the clothes of children
ein Freund von mir - a friend of mine
There are two different ways to form the genitive of proper ways:
The genitive of proper nouns can be formed using the von preposition before the proper noun.
Be careful: the genitive cases changes into a dative cases then!
Here are some examples:
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:
There are five different situation when you have to use the German genitive.
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?
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.
The female noun die Nacht behaves in this case as a masculine or a neutral noun.
The genitive case used with certain prepositions. You can find them in this table.
|während - during||Während meines Aufenthalts in Hamburg habe ich viele Leute kennengelernt. - During my stay in Hamburg, I met many people.|
|trotz - despite||Trotz des Regens spielt er im Garten. - Despite the rain, he plays in the garden|
|statt/anstatt - instead||Statt des Computers kauft mir meine Mutter das Handy. - Instead of the computer, my mother buys the phone from me.|
|wegen - because of||Wegen des Gewitters kann man nicht Fußball spielen. - Because of the storm, you can not play football.|
|infolge - as a result of||Infolge eines Vorfalls komme ich nicht mehr. - As a result of an incident I will not come anymore.|
|dank - due to/ thanks to||Dank deiner Bemühungen hast du das Ziel erreicht. - Thanks to your efforts, you have reached the goal.|
|außerhalb, innerhalb, oberhalb, unterhalb - outside, inside, above, below||Die Kinder spielen außerhalb des Hauses. - The children play outside of the house.|
|um ... willen - for the sake of||Um Himmels willen, warum? - For God's sake, why?|
|diesseits, jenseits - on this side of, on the other side of||Das Dorf ist diesseits des Sees. - The village is on this side of the lake.|
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 charged||Sie ist des Mordes angeklagt. - She is charged with murder.|
|bedürfen - to require/to need||Der Opa bedarf seiner Medikamente. - The grandpa needs medication.|
|gedenken - to commemorate||Wir gedenken der Toten. - We commemorate the dead.|
|beschuldigen - to accuse||Der Anwalt beschuldigt mich der Tat. - The lawyer accuses me of the act.|
|sich einer Sache bedienen - to use one thing||Der Dichter bedient sich der Metaphern. - The poet uses the metaphors.|
There are some adjectives that are followed by the genitive case. Here a some examples.
|sicher - sure||Ich bin mir der Antwort nicht sicher. - I am not sure about the answer.|
|bewusst - aware of||Er ist sich seines Fehlers bewusst. - He is aware of his fault.|
|würdig - worthy||Sie ist dieses Namens würdig. - She is worthy of this name.|
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