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German functions of words

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What is the grammatical category of a word?

The grammatical category of a word is the category to which it belongs. Indeed, all the words can be grouped in the same category according to the characteristics that are similar. 

function of words

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1. German nouns 

Nouns are categorized in three different categories. 

gendermasculine, feminine, neuter
casenominative, genitive, accusative, dative
numbersingular, plural 

Die Katzen der Männer sind lieb. - The cats of the men are nice. 



2. German articles

Articles accompany a nouns. An article in the narrow sense is the definite and indefinite article of der, die and das. Article can be inflected (declined) and adapt the gender and number of the noun.

Die Katzen der Männer sind lieb. - The cats of the men are nice.

gender feminine


3. German verbs

Verbs express actions, events, and states. A verb is the predicate of a sentence. A predicate contains at least one finite verb form (= in number and person defined). Verbs can be inflected (conjugated). A verb expresses Person, number, mood, tense and the active or passive state. 

Ich gehe zur Arbeit. - I go to work.

numberwhich person (singular or plural ) 1. person singular
moodindicative or subjunctive I / subjunctive IIindicative
tensepresent, simple past, future I,...present tense
state active or passiveactive


4. German adjectives 

Adjectives serve to attribute to a living thing, an object, an action, a state, etc., a property, a particular trait. They can have the following functions

modifier of a noundas aufregende Spielthe exciting game
modifier of an adjective or adverbtypisch türkische Speisentypical turkish dishes.
predicativedas Spiel ist aufregendthe game is exciting
adverbgut Golf spielenplaying golf well

Adjectives which function as modifier of a noun be inflected in gender, case and number. Adjective are mostly not inflected in other positions of a sentence.

Das Ergebnis der schweren Klausur ist online. - The result of the hard exam is online.



5. German pronouns

According to the classical definition, a pronoun is a word which  stand for another word (a noun). There are seven classes of pronouns.

personal a personal pronouns refers to a specific person, a group of people or an object.Ich sehe dich.I see you.
possessive they are used to show, that a noun belongs to somebody or something.Das ist meine Katze.That is my cat.
demonstrative these pronouns are used when referring to something that is already defined.Ja, die sehe ich.Yes, I see that.
interrogative there are interrogative pronouns, so called "question words".Wo bist du?Where are you?
reflexive they are part of the verb which refers to someone.Ich habe mich geschnitten.I cut myself.
indefinitethey are used to link to subjects or objects that are not defined.Man kann es schaffen.It is doable.
relative they describe the nouns more precisely.Das Mädchen, das Sport magThe girl, that likes sport.


6. German adverbs

The adverb refers to the circumstances in which an action is happening. For example, there are adverbs  of time, place and frequency. Adverbs can be used in different situations: 

for a verbWir sind dorthin gefahrenWe were driving there.
for an adjectiveDas Leben ist besonders schön.Life is especially nice.
for an adverbWir sehen uns sehr baldWe will see us very soon.
predicative for nounsDer Tisch ist dort.The table is over there.
attributive for nounsDer Tisch dort ist dir.The table over there is yours.


7. German prepositions

Prepositions connect words and groups of words. They refer to a local, temporal, modal or causal relationship between two things.

temporalWir kennen uns seit Ewigkeiten.We know each other since an eternity.
modal Nur mit großem Aufwand gelang es.Only with great effort was it accomplished
causalWegen des Unwetters ist alles zerstört.Because of the storm everything is destroyed
localDie Flasche steht auf dem Tisch.The bottle is on the table.


8. What to know about the German sentence structure

Let's have a look at the following example: 

subjectMaria wirft den ApfelMaria throws the apple. subject is always in the nominative case, it is the initial point of an action
predicateMaria wirft den Apfel.Maria throws the apple.central action of a sentence, at least one finite form of verb
object Maria wirft den Apfel. Maris throws the apple.accusativeobject (Wen/was?)
object Der Apfel gehört ihrThe apple is hers.dativeobject  (Wem?)
object Der Apfel ist ihrer.The apple is hers.genitiveobject (Wessen?)
object Sie denkt an ihn. She thinks of him.prepositional object



  1. Exercise of the functions of words
  2. Decide which gender the following German nouns have!
  3. Fill in the correct article of the German nouns
  4. Mark all the German verbs!
  5. Match the correct German pronoun!

Exercise of the functions of words

Decide which gender the following German nouns have!

Fill in the correct article of the German nouns

Mark all the German verbs!

Match the correct German pronoun!

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