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German possessive pronouns

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What are possessive pronouns in German?

Possessive pronouns are used to indicate ownership or affiliation. They have to be declined according to the associated noun.

We distinguish between two types of possessive pronouns in German:

  1. Dependent possessive pronouns ( = Possessivbegleiter)
  2. Independent possessive pronouns

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Dependent possessive pronouns (Possessivebegleiter) in German

What are dependent possessive pronouns? 

These pronouns are called dependent because they can, like articles, only occur as a companion of a noun. Often they are also called possessive article. Just like all articles, dependent possessive pronouns are declined according to the noun they accompany.

Examples:

  • Ist das dein Hund? - Is that your dog? 
  • Euer Haus ist sehr Groß. - Your house is very big.

Declension of dependent possessive pronouns

To decline possessive pronouns in German we should know the following basic forms (word stem):

 Personal PronounPossessive Pronoun (word stem) English Translation
1st person singularichmein-my 
2nd person singulardudein- your 
3rd person singular (m)ersein-his
3rd person singular (f)sieihr-her 
3rd person singular (n)essein-its
1st person pluralwirunser-our 
2nd person pluralihreu(e)r-your 
3rd person pluralsieihr-their

The word stem refers to the person which possesses the noun. 

To decline the pronouns we just need to add the appropriate ending.

The ending changes according to the possessed nouns...

  • ... number (singular, plural)
  • ... gender (masculine, feminine, neuter)
  • ... case (nominative, genitive, dative accusative)

enlightenedAttention: The stem of the second person plural changes from 'euer-' to 'eur-' when we add an ending! 

Nominative case

The nominative case of dependent possessive pronouns for masculine and neuter nouns equals the word stem. If we have a plural or a female noun we add the ending '-e'.

PersonMasculine/Neuter (-ø)Female/Plural (-e)
ichmeinmeine
dudeindeine
erseinseine
sieihrihre
esseinseine
wirunserunsere
ihreuereure
sieihrihre

Examples:

  • Das ist mein Buch. - that is my book.

  • Seine Schuhe sind schön. - His shoes are beautiful.

Genitive case

The genitive case of dependent possessive pronouns requires the ending '-es' for masculine and neuter nouns. For female and plural nouns we add the ending '-er'.

PersonMasculine/Neuter (-es)Female/Plural (-er)
ichmeinesmeiner
dudeinesdiner
erseinesseiner
sieihresihrer
esseinesseiner
wir unseresunserer
ihreureseurer
sieihresihrer

Examples:

  • Er mag die Freunde seines Sohnes. - He likes his sons friends.

  • Das ist das Haus meiner Eltern. - That's my parents house.

Dative case

For the dative case of dependent possessive pronouns we add the ending '-em' for masculine and neuter nouns. For female nouns we add '-er' and for plural nouns '-en'.

PersonMasculine/Neuter (-em)Female (-er)Plural (-en)
ichmeinemmeinermeinen
dudeinemdeinerdeinen
erseinemseinerseinen
sieihremihrerihren
esseinemseinerseinen
wirunseremunsererunseren
ihreuremeurereuren
sieihremihrerihren

Examples:

  • Meinem Bruder gefällt der Deutschunterricht. - My brother likes the German class.

  • Die Blume schenkt sie ihrer Tante. - She gives the Flower to her aunt.

  • Wir gratulieren unseren Eltern zum Hochzeitstag. - We congratulate our parents on their anniversary.

Accusative case 

The accusative case of dependent possessive pronouns demands the ending '-en' for masculine and '-e' for female and plural noun. If we have a neuter noun we use just the word stem.  

PersonMasculine (-en)Neuter (-ø)Female/Plural (-e)
ichmeinenmeinmeine
dudeinendeindeine
erseinenseinseine
sieihrenihrihre
esseinenseinseine
wirunserenunserunsere
ihreureneuereure
sieihrenihrihne

Examples:

  • Sie führen ihren Hund spazieren. - They take their dog for a walk.

  • Kann ich mir dein Buch ausleihen? - May I borrow your book?

  • Hast du deine Mutter gefragt? - Did you ask your Mother?

Independent possessive pronouns in German

Usage of independent possessive pronouns

Unlike the Possessivbegleiter, independent possessive pronouns stand alone and have the function to replace an already mentioned noun to avoid repetition.

  • Das ist ein süßer Hund. Ist das deiner? - That's a cute dog. Is it yours? 
  • Ich habe ein kleines Haus. Eures ist sehr groß. - I have a small house. Yours is very big.

However we still use the same word stem:

  • mein-
  • dein-
  • sein-
  • ihr-
  • sein-
  • unser-
  • eu(e)r-
  • ihr-

Declension of independent possessive pronouns

To decline these pronouns, again, we just need to add the appropriate ending according to the noun which is now being replaced.

Nominative case 

The nominative case of independent possessive pronouns is build with the ending '-er' for masculine nouns, '-s/-es' for neuter nouns and '-e' if we have a female or plural noun. 

PersonMasculine (-er)Neuter (-s/-es)Female/Plural (-e)
ichmeinermeinsmeine
dudeinerdeinsdeine
erseinerseinsseine
sieihrerihrs/ihresihre
esseinerseinsseine
wirunsererunseresunsere
ihreurereureseure
sieihrerihrs/ihresihre

Examples:

  • Siehst du den roten Wagen? Das ist meiner. - Do you see the red car? That's mine.
  • Das blaue Auto daneben ist unseres. - The blue car besides is ours.

  • A: Gehört die Tasche Maria? -  B: Ja, das ist ihre.A: Does this bag belong to Maria? - B: Yes, it's hers.

Genitive case 

enlightenedThe genitive form of independent possessive pronouns equals the genitive case of dependent possessive pronouns but it is less common.

Dative case

For the dative case of independent possessive pronouns we add '-em' if we have a masculine or neuter noun. For female nouns the ending is '-er'. The plural form is build with '-en'.

PersonMasculine/Neuter (-em)Female (-er)Plural (en)
ichmeinemmeinermeinen
dudeinemdeinerdeinen
erseinemseinerseinen
sieihremihrerihren
esseinemseinerseinen
wirunseremunsererunseren
ihreuremeurereuren
sieihremihrerihren

Examples:

  • A: Wo hast du dein Auto geparkt? - B: Neben deinem.A: Where did you park your car? - B: Next to yours.
  • Diese Tasche gehört nicht deiner Freundin. Sie gehört meiner.This bag does not belong to your girlfriend. It belongs to mine.
  • Alle Eltern sind gekommen, außer deinen. - All parents came, except yours.

Accusative case 

The accusative case of independent possessive pronouns needs the ending '-en' for masculine nouns. The neuter form is build with '-s/-es'. For female nouns we use the ending '-e'.

PersonMasculine (-en)Neuter (-s/-es)Plural (-e)
ichmeinenmeinsmeine
dudeinendeinsdeine
erseinenseinsseine
sieihrenihrs/ihresihre
esseinenseinsseine
wirunserenunseresunsere
ihreureneureseure
sieihrenihrs/ihresihre

Examples:

  • Unser Lehrer kennt die Antwort nicht. Könnt ihr euren fragen? - Our teacher doesn't know the answer. May you ask yours?
  • Ich habe mein Deutschbuch vergessen. Darf ich deins benutzen? - I forgot my German book. May I use yours?
  • Hans hat eine neue Uhr. Seine alte ist kaputt. -Hans has a new watch. his old one is broken.

wink Are you not sure which case to use? Check out the German cases


Exercises

  1. Exercise on the German possessive pronouns
  2. Exercise of German possessive pronouns

Exercise on the German possessive pronouns


Exercise of German possessive pronouns


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