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Possessive adjectives in German

This chapter will deal with the possessive form of adjectives.

What are possessive adjectives in German?

Possessive adjectives are used to indicate possession or relationship. This concept is very similar to the possessive pronouns. To make sure you get the difference, have a look at the following table. Each personal pronoun has an appropriate possessive adjective.

Table of possessive adjectives according to person

Singular Personal pronoun Possessive adjective
1st person ich (I) mein (my)
2nd person du (you) dein (your)
3rd person masculine er (he) sein (his)
3rd person feminine sie (she) ihr (her)
3rd person neuter es (it) sein (its)
formal Sie (you) Ihr (your)

 

Plural Personal pronoun Possessive adjective
1st person wir (we) unser (our)
2nd person ihr (you) euer (your)
3rd person sie (they) ihr (their)
formal Sie (you) Ihr (your)

 

enlightenedThe formal possessive adjective is always written with a capital letter. However, dein and euer can also be capitalized, when written in a letter, but this is optional.

  • Lieber Felix, vielen Dank für Deinen Brief. (Dear Felix, thanks a lot for your letter.)
  • Liebe Grüße, Euer Hans. (Kind regards, yours Hans.)

Declension of possessive adjectives

Because the possessive adjective stands right in front of the noun of a sentence, the adjective needs to be declined according to the gender, number and case of the noun. To do so, you have to use the declension for indefinite articles (ein, kein, etc.) and to declense it in the following way:

Possessive adjective endings Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nominative mein - / Bruder mein - e Schwester mein - / Kind mein - e Kinder
Accusative mein - en Bruder mein - e Schwester mein - / Kind mein - e Kinder
Dative mein - em Bruder mein - er Schwester mein - em Kind mein - en Kindern
Genitive mein - es Bruders mein - er Schwester mein - es Kindes mein - er Kinder

 

enlightenedWatch out, because there is no ending of the possessive adjective in nominative masculine, nominative neuter and accusative Neuter. The possessive adjective just comes is his main form.

Difference between possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns

You might think that there isn't a huge difference between this two types of possessive words. But in fact there is.

  • Possessive adjectives (mein/e, dein/e etc.) stand right before the noun.
  • Possessive pronouns (meins, deins etc.) stand behind the noun and can also replace it.
Sentence with possessive pronoun Sentence with possessive adjectives
Das Fahrrad ist meins./Das ist meins. (The bicycle is mine.) Das ist mein Fahrrad. (This is my bicycle.)
Die braune Katze ist ihre. (The brown cat is hers.) Ihre Katze ist braun. (Her cat is brown.)
Wessen Auto ist das? Deins? (Whose car is this? Yours?) Wessen Auto ist das? Ist es dein Auto? (Whose car is this? Is it your car?)
Ist dieser Stift deiner? (Is this pen yours?) Ist das dein Stift? (Is that your pen?)

 

Examples of possessive adjectives sentences in German

  • Wo ist meine Schwester? (Where is my sister?)
  • Ich kenne deinen Bruder noch nicht. (I don't know your brother yet.)
  • Er läuft durch unseren Garten. (He is running through our garden.)
  • Kennst du meine Tante und ihren Mann? (Do you know my aunt and her husband?)
  • Wo ist eure Mutter? (Where is your mother?)

enlightenedBy using the possessive euer, the endings are normally put to eur- (e.g. euren, eure, eurem).

To get a deeper understanding of possessive pronoun, have look at the chapter about prossessive pronouns in German.


Exercises

Exercise on possessive adjectives in German


Exercise: Possessive adjective or pronoun?


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