In German nominal groups (articles, adjectives or nouns) are declined corresponding to their case. That means they have different endings according to their function in the sentence. In German there are 4 declension cases.
To identify the case of a noun, there are certain questions to ask for a specific case.
This table shows you the declension of different nouns split up into the cases, the gender and number.
|Nominative||der / ein Mann||die / eine Frau||das / ein Kind||die Leute|
|Accusative||den / einen Mann||die / eine Frau||das / ein Kind|
|Dative||dem / einem Mann||der / einer Frau||dem / einem Kind|
des / eines Mannes
|der / einer Frau|
des / eines Kindes
Remember: there is no indefinite article in plural in German.
This table shows you the personal pronouns changing in the different cases.
|First person singular||ich - I||mir - me||mich - me|
|Second person singular||du - you (informal)||dir - you||dich - you|
|Third person singular||er/sie/es - he/she/it||ihm/ihr/ihm - him/her/it||ihn/sie/es - him/her/it|
|First person plural||wir - we||uns - us||uns - us|
|Second person plural||ihr - you||euch - you||euch - you|
|Third person plural||sie/Sie - they/ you (formal)||ihnen / Ihnen - them||sie/Sie - them|
The nominative is always the subject of a sentence. It answers the questions
Wer oder was? - Who or what?
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 accompany a noun in the nominative case.
|With a definite article||der Vater||die Mutter||das Kind||die Leute|
|With an indefinite article||ein Vater||eine Mutter||ein Kind||Leute|
|With a definite article + adjective||der gute Vater||die schöne Mutter||das lustige Kind||die vielen Leute|
|With an indefinite article + adjective||ein guter Vater||eine schöne Mutter||ein lustiges Kind||viele Leute|
Remember: there is no indefinite article in German plural.
1. As the subject of the verb
2. As a predicate nominative
A predicative nominative is a noun that is equated with the subject of the sentence or clause. It follows a linking verb and refers back to it.
Here are some linking verbs:
3. As a noun of a direct address
You have to use the nominative case in phrases where you use the imperative or you directly address someone.
Usually the nominative, being the subject, occupies the first place in a sentence and the it is followed by the verb. However, it often happens that the sentence starts with an adverb or another element. In this case, since the verb always occupies the second place, the nominative (subject) comes after the verb (in third place).
The genitive is a complement of a noun, that means it completes the noun to which it refers to. It answers the question
Wessen? - whose / of what?
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 accompany a noun in the genitive 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||der schönen Frau||des lustigen Kindes||der vielen Leute|
|With an indefinite article + adjective||eines guten Mannes||einer schönen Frau||eines lustigen Kindes||vieler Leute|
1. To show 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
2. 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.
The female noun die Nacht behaves in this case as a masculine or a neutral noun.
3. With prepositions
The genitive case used with certain prepositions. You can find them in this list.
4. 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.
5. With genitive adjectives
There are some adjectives that are followed by the genitive case.
Ich bin mir der Antwort nicht sicher. - I am not sure about the answer.
Er ist sich seines Fehlers bewusst. - He is aware of his fault.
Sie ist dieses Namens würdig. - She is worthy of this name.
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.
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!
The dative is an indirect object in the sentence and forms the answer to the question
Wem? - whom?
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 accompany a noun in the dative case.
|With a definite article||dem Mann||der Frau||dem Kind||den Leuten|
|With an indefinite article||einem Mann||einer Frau||einem Kind||Leuten|
|With a definite article + adjective||dem guten Mann||der schönen Frau||dem lustigen Kind||den vielen Leuten|
|With an indefinite article + adjective||einem guten Mann||einer schönen Frau||einem lustigen Kind||vielen Leuten|
1. As the indirect object of the verb
In English the indirect object (dative) is often expressed by the preposition to and for. In addition, there are some verbs in German, that use the dative case as an indirect object of the verb and the accusative case as the direct object of the verb.
This list shows verbs that are frequently used with direct and indirect objects.
Examples (the dative is highlighted):
2. With dative verbs
There are some German verbs that only take the dative object. They are listed here:
3. With prepositions
This table list shows preposition that usually use the dative case.
4. With verbs of location and contracted prepositions
There are contracted prepositions (prepositions + article) that are used in the dative case and additionally expresses a position, location or a motion within a fixed location. These prepositions can answer the question wo? - in what place?/where?
Be careful: Verbs of movement + contracted prepositions always require the accusative case.
Here is a list of verbs that express position, location or a motion within a fixed location.
Examples for preposition + dative:
The accusative is used as the direct object in the sentence and forms the answer to the questions
Wen oder was? - who or what?
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 accompany a noun in the accusative case.
|With a definite article||den Mann||die Frau||das Kind||die Leute|
|With an indefinite article||einen Mann||eine Frau||ein Kind||Leute|
|With a definite article + adjective||den guten Mann||die schöne Frau||das lustige Kind||die vielen Leute|
|With an indefinite article + adjective||einen guten Mann||eine schöne Frau||ein lustiges Kind||viele Leute|
1. As the direct Object of the verb
All transitive verbs support the direct object and for this reason are followed by the accusative.
2. With expressions of definite time and duration of time
Nominal groups that express the frequency of an activity or a time are always in the accusative case.
3. With prepositions
There are some prepositions that always followed by the accusative case.
4. With verbs of movement and contracted prepositions
There are verbs that, depending on the action (whether it is static or a movement), govern the dative or the accusative case. The dative case is used when it comes to static verbs and the accusative case is used with movement.
Here are some verbs of movement
Prepositions that can be contracted:
Example of prepositions (some of them are contracted) and verbs of movement:
5. With sentence in passive
In passive phrases the object complement becomes subject and the subject becomes object complement.
The accusative is used in passive forms only when it is introduced by durch.
|Die Operation hat den Patienten gerettet. - The operation rescued the patient.||Der Patient wurde durch die Operation gerettet. - The patient was rescued by the operation.|
|Seine Schwester isst einen Apfel. - His sister eats an apple.||Der Apfel wird von seiner Schwester gegessen. - The apple is eaten by his sister.|
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