German declension

The nominative, accusative, dative and genitive cases. The declension of nouns, adjectives, articles and numbers.




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We know that verbs are conjugated (I eat vs. he/she eats) but it is rather simple in English; there are not many changes in the conjugation depending on the person and number.

German declension consists of adding an ending to:

according to the case (Fall or Kasus), gender and number.

The Idea of Case (Fall or Kasus) in German

In German there are 4 cases:

Nominative

The nominative is used if

NameName is nominative
name
Mein Name hat 5 BuchstabenMein Name has the function of a subject and is declined in the nominative
My name has five letters
María ist mein NameIst is part the verb sein (copulative) and therefore the object is declined in nominative.
Maria is my name

Accusative

Accusative is used if:

Ich sagte meinen Namen"sagte" is from the verb "sagen",
which is a verb that is not copulative.
For that reason, it is accusative.
I said my name

Depending on the verb, the objects can be accusative, dative or with a preposition. Fortunately, most cases coincide with English ones all of the time. Be careful!

Ich gehe in die Schule"die Schule" is declined in accusative because it follows the preposition "in" and going which indicates movement.
I am going to school

Dative

Ich schenke dir ein Heft "ein Heft" (the thing that is
given) is accusative and whom it is given to is dative.
I give you a notebook

Genitive

Die Zukunft des Buches ist schwerIn English genitive’s expressed with "of" or by adding an apostrophe to show possession. "Des Buches" is translated as "of the book" or "the book’s".
The future of the book is difficult

The genitive is not used as often by Germans as the three other previous cases. Often, a noun object is made with the preposition "von" + Dative and the genitive preposition are sometimes used incorrectly as if they were dative.

You have to keep in mind that one word can fit the rules of different cases simultaneously. For example, it can be a subject while being a part of a noun object and follow a preposition that is dative. Which case would it be then? Nominative because it’s the subject, Genitive, because it’s the noun object or dative because it is after a preposition?

The answer is that the priorities are in this order:

  1. Following a preposition (governing with Accusative, Dative or Genitive)
  2. Being part of a genitive object (Genitive)
  3. The rest of the rules

Noun Declension

There are 2 types of noun declension: Regular and N-declension.

Regular declension

Applicable to most nouns.

Example: das Gas (the gas)

SingularPlural
ArticleNounArticleNoun
NominativedasGasdieGase
AccusativedasGasdieGase
DativedemGasdenGasen
GenitivedesGasesderGase

For more info, visit: Regular declension of nouns

N-declension

Applicable to some masculine nouns and a few neuter ones.

Example: der Name (the name)

SingularPlural
ArticleNounArticleNoun
NominativederNamedieNamen
AccusativedenNamendieNamen
DativedemNamendenNamen
GenitivedesNamensderNamen

For more info, visit: N-Deklination

Declension of Adjectives

There are three types of declension for adjectives: Weak, mixed and strong. Visit the following link if you’d like to see them in detail: Adjective declension.

Weak declension of Adjectives

The most common case for weak declension is the construction: (definite article) + (adjective with weak declension) + (Noun)

Das schöne Sofa
The beautiful sofa

Mixed declension of Adjectives

The most common mixed declension is the structure: (indefinite article) + (adjective with mixed declension) + (Noun)

Ein schönes Sofa
A beautiful sofa

Strong declension of adjectives

The most common case of strong declension is: (strong declension of adjective without article) + (Noun)

Schönes Sofa
Beautiful sofa

Pronoun declension

There are 3 types of declensions for pronouns: weak, mixed and strong but not all pronouns have the three declensions.

If you’d like more in-depth info, we suggest that you visit:
Pronoun declension

Declension of personal pronouns:

NominativeAccusativeDativeGenitive
ichImichmemirme, to memeinermine
duyoudichyoudiryou, to youdeineryours
erheihnhimihmhim, to himseinerhis
sieshesieherihrher, to herihrerhers
esit (neuter)esit (neuter)ihmit, to itseinerits
wirweunsusunsus, to usunserours
ihryou
(speaking to a group)
euchyoueuchyou, to youeueryours
sie
Sie
they
you (formal)
sie
Sie
them
you (formal)
ihnen
Ihnen
to them
to you
ihrer
Ihrer
theirs
yours

Article declension

Definite Articles:

MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Nominativeder (the)die (the)das (the)die (the)
Accusativedendiedasdie
Dativedemderdemden
Genitivedesderdesder

Indefinite Articles:

MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Nominativeein (a/an)eine (a/an)ein (a/an)--
Accusativeeineneineein--
Dativeeinemeinereinem--
Genitiveeineseinereines--

Number declension

Numbers are declined as well. If you’d like more info, visit the article: Number declension




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1 Comments
#1 [Jens]2013-12-31 00:41
Wow! My language is very difficult by looking at this!
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