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Die 4 Fälle


learning target


The four cases is one of the most important topics in German grammar but also one of the most difficult ones. That's why we will spend more time than usual to cover it. When you understood the cases you can handle a lot of problems like:


"declension" of definite and indefinite articles

German

English

Der Mann schreibt einen Brief.
Die Frau gibt dem Kind einen Kuss.
Eine Frau geht über die Straße.

The man writes a letter.
The woman gives the child a kiss.
A woman crosses the street.


"declension" of personal pronouns

German

English

Ich sehe dich.
Ich gebe dir etwas.
Er schickt ihr einen Brief.

I see you.
I give you something.
He sends a letter to her.


"declension" of possessive pronouns

German

English

Mein Vater heißt Gerhard.
Meine Mutter heißt Regina.
Wie heißt deine Schwester?

My father's name is Gerhard.
My mother's name is Regina.
What's the name of your sister?


declension of adjectives (adjective endings)

German

English

Ich habe eine hübsche Freundin.
Ich kenne diesen bösen Mann.
Schöne Strände gibt es überall.

I've got a pretty girlfriend.
I know this bad man.
Nice beaches are everywhere.


"declension" of "der-words"

German

English

Solche Leute lernen es nie.
Welches Glas möchtest du?
Dieses Haus ist sehr groß.

Such people won't never learn it.
Which glas do you want?
This house is very big



rules


What are the four cases?

1. Fall
Nominativ
 

2. Fall
Genitiv
 

3. Fall
Dativ
 

4. Fall
Akkusativ
 


What is a case and what do we need it for?

The case (= Fall or Kasus) is a "tool" to explain which purpose has a noun in a sentence and in which relation is the noun to the other words. The case itself is no word. It's a fictional "thing" to help you to understand which ending words get or which article / pronoun we have to choose.


I want to test you. What's wrong with the following sentence?

Her gives my a kiss.

The correct sentence has to be: She gives me a kiss.
But why is it "She" and "me"? That's exaxtly the question! "She" is in the nominative case and "I" am in the dative case.


How can you find out which part of the sentence is in which case?

That's the master question. To answer it I will give you for every single case rules and then we will practise at first only 2 cases together, later 3 and finally all 4. Let's start!


 

1. Fall: Nominativ


1.) Every subject is in the nominative case.

 

What is the subject of a sentence?

The subject is the acting person / thing in a sentence. The subject is "doing" something.
example 1:

You can ask who does something in the sentence? Who goes home? --> answer: der Mann


example 2:

You can ask who does something in the sentence? Who kisses a man? --> answer: eine Frau


2.) Every noun or pronoun which follows a form of "be" is in the nominative case. The noun / pronoun after the "be" is a so-called "predicate complement".


example 1:

"Er" and "Doktor" are in the nominative case. "Er" is the subject of the sentence.
"Doktor" follows a form of "be" and is thus a predicate complement.

example 2:

"Ich" and "Student" are in the nominative case. "Ich" is the subject of the sentence.
"Student" follows a form of "be" and is thus a predicate complement.

 

4. Fall: Akkusativ

 

1.) The direct object is in the accusative case.


What is the direct object of a sentence?

The direct object is the not-acting person / thing in a sentence. The direct object receives the action of the verb.

Der Mann küsst die Frau.


The man is doing something. He kisses the woman. So the man is the subject of the sentence (=nominative case).
The woman is being kissed. She is not acting. So she is the direct object (=accusative case).


2.) Nouns / pronouns which follow accusative prepositions are in the accusative case.


Accusative prepositionen

Whenever you see one of these prepositions it must be a signal for you that the
following noun / pronoun is in the accusative case.

example 1:

example 2:


3.) Nouns / pronouns which follow "two-way" prepositions are either in the accusative case or the dative case.


"two-way" prepositionen

Your question is surely now how do you find out which of the two cases you have to use. The answer is quite easy.

When you can ask "Wohin?" (=whereto?) then the object is in the accusative case. That means you describe a motion towards a destination.


When you can ask "Wo?" (=where?) then the object is in the dative case.
That means you describe a single location or a state of rest.


examples:


4.) Most time expressions are in the accusative case.


example 1:

example 2:



 

3. Fall: Dativ


1.) The indirect object is in the dative case.

 

What is the indirect object of a sentence?

The indirect object is the beneficiary of the action in the sentence. Usually it's a person.
You can also say the indirect object is the receiver of the direct object.

Der Mann gibt dem Kind das Buch.



The man is doing something. He gives a book to the child. So the man is the subject of the sentence (=nominative case).
The book is given. It's not acting. So it's the direct object (=accusative case).
The child benefits from this action. After the action it owns a new book. So the child is the indirect object (=dative case).


2.) Nouns / pronouns which follow dative prepositions are in the dative case.


Dative prepositionen

Whenever you see one of these prepositions it must be a signal for you that the
following noun / pronoun is in the dative case.

example 1:

example 2:


3.) Nouns / pronouns which follow "two-way" prepositions are either in the accusative case or the dative case.


See accusative case


4.) Nouns / pronouns which follow "dative verbs" are in the dative case.


Dative verbs

group 1 (often used)

  • antworten (answer)
  • danken (thank)
  • einfallen (think of)
  • erlauben (allow)
  • fehlen (to be missed)
  • gefallen (like)
  • gehören (belong to)
  • glauben (believe)
  • gratulieren (congratulate)
  • helfen (help)
  • Leid tun (be sorry)
  • passen (suit)
  • passieren (happen)
  • schmecken (taste)
  • vertrauen (trust)
  • verzeihen (forgive)
  • wehtun (hurt)
  • zuhören (listen to)
  • zustimmen (agree with)

group 2 (rarely used)

  • ähneln (resemble)
  • befehlen (command)
  • begegnen (encounter)
  • dienen (serve)
  • drohen (threaten)
  • folgen (follow)
  • gehorchen (obey)
  • gelingen (succeed)
  • geraten (turn out well)
  • genügen (be enough)
  • geschehen (happen)
  • gleichen (be like)
  • glücken (be lucky)
  • lauschen (overhear)
  • misslingen (fail)
  • munden (taste)
  • nützen (be of use)
  • raten (advise)
  • schaden (harm)
  • schmeicheln (flatter)
  • trauen (trust)
  • widersprechen (contradict)
  • winken (wave)
  • zürnen (be angry with)

Whenever you see one of these verbs it must be a signal for you that the
following noun / pronoun is in the dative case.

example 1:

example 2:


5.) Nouns / pronouns are in the dative case when they are used with certain adjective and adverb expressions.


adjective and adverb expressions

Because just a form of "be" is the verb in these sentences, only the adjectives/adverbs indicate the dative case.

example 1:

example 2:


 

2. Fall: Genitiv


1.) The genetive case is used when you describe / ownership.


possession

example 1:

example 2:


2.) The genetive case is used when you refer to a part of something else. In English the "of-genitive" is used for this.


example 1:

example 2:


3.) Nouns / pronouns which follow genitive prepositions are in the genitive case.


Genitive prepositionen

Whenever you see one of these prepositions it must be a signal for you that the
following noun / pronoun is in the genitive case.

example 1:

example 2:


The "s" - genitive

Like in English there is a way to indicate possessive by adding a "s" to the noun. Be careful, however.
Only if the person, city or country - which "possesses" something - is called by their personal name you are allowed to use this form of genitive.
Furthermore you should consider that you add the "s" without apostrophe.

An alternative way

An alternative way to indicate that somethings belongs to somebody (possessive) is the "von construct".
The "real" genitive is mostly used in written German. In daily spoken German you will often hear the "von construct".
Consider that "von" is dative preposition and the following article, pronoun etc.
must be in the dative case and not in the genitive case even though you express possessive.



Question words

At the end of the theory part I want you to show the way how Germans are taught the 4 cases at school.
We just use some question words to find out which part of the sentence is in which case.
My experience showed me, however, that it's less helpful for foreigners. Nevertheless, I want you to show you this way.

case

question words

Nominativ

Wer oder Was? (Who or What?)

Genitive

Wessen? (Whose?)

Dative

Wem? (to Whom?)
[furthermore: Wo? (Where?) / Woher? (Wherefrom?)]

Akkusativ

Wen oder Was? (Whom or What?)
[furthermore: Wohin? (Whereto?)]


example 1:

Der Mann gibt dem Kind das Buch.


example 2:

Der Familienname meiner Freundin ist Pacana.

The rest of the sentence "Der Familienname ... ist Pacana" is a classical "predicate complement" (see nominative case, point 2).
It's both in the nominative case.



tables


The following collection of tables is just an information source for the weeks and months to come.
You don't have to learn them by heart.

"declension" of definite article (der, die, das = the)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

der Mann

die Frau

das Kind

die Familien

genitive

des Mannes

der Frau

des Kindes

der Familien

dative

dem Mann

der Frau

dem Kind

den Familien

accusative

den Mann

die Frau

das Kind

die Familien


As you already noticed not just the article changes. Some nouns get an additional ending as well.
For more details check Deklination der Substantive.


"declension" of indefinite article (ein = a, an)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

ein Mann

eine Frau

ein Kind

-

genitive

eines Mannes

einer Frau

eines Kindes

-

dative

einem Mann

einer Frau

einem Kind

-

accusative

einen Mann

eine Frau

ein Kind

-

 

"declension" of indefinite "article" (kein = no, none)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

kein Mann

keine Frau

kein Kind

keine Kinder

genitive

keines Mannes

keiner Frau

keines Kindes

keiner Kinder

dative

keinem Mann

keiner Frau

keinem Kind

keinen Kindern

accusative

keinen Mann

keine Frau

kein Kind

keine Kinder


Basically, "ein" and "kein" are the same. They've got the same endings. "Kein" is just the negation of "ein".
Regard that "ein" has (of course) no plural form because "ein" describes just one thing of something.


"declension" of personal pronouns (ich, du, er ... = I, you, he ...)

nominative

genitive

dative

accusative

ich

mein(e/er)

mir

mich

du

dein(e/er)

dir

dich

er

sein(e/er)

ihm

ihn

sie

ihr(e/er)

ihr

sie

es

sein(e/er)

ihm

es

wir

unser(e)

uns

uns

ihr

euer(e)

euch

euch

sie

ihr(e/er

ihnen

sie

Sie

Ihr(e/er)

Ihnen

Sie


For the endings in the genitive case check the following table: possessive pronouns.



"declension" of possessive pronouns (mein, dein, sein ... = my, your, his ...)


"declension" of the possessive pronoun (mein = my)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

mein Mann

meine Frau

mein Kind

meine Kinder

genitive

meines Mannes

meiner Frau

meines Kindes

meiner Kinder

dative

meinem Mann

meiner Frau

meinem Kind

meinen Kindern

accusative

meinen Mann

meine Frau

mein Kind

meine Kinder

 

"declension" of the possessive pronoun (dein = your, singular)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

dein Mann

deine Frau

dein Kind

deine Kinder

genitive

deines Mannes

deiner Frau

deines Kindes

deiner Kinder

dative

deinem Mann

deiner Frau

deinem Kind

deinen Kindern

accusative

deinen Mann

deine Frau

dein Kind

deine Kinder

 

"declension" of the possessive pronoun (sein = his)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

sein Mann

seine Frau

sein Kind

seine Kinder

genitive

seines Mannes

seiner Frau

seines Kindes

seiner Kinder

dative

seinem Mann

seiner Frau

seinem Kind

seinen Kindern

accusative

seinen Mann

seine Frau

sein Kind

seine Kinder

 

"declension" of the possessive pronoun (ihr = her)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

ihr Mann

ihre Frau

ihr Kind

ihre Kinder

genitive

ihres Mannes

ihrer Frau

ihres Kindes

ihrer Kinder

dative

ihrem Mann

ihrer Frau

ihrem Kind

ihren Kindern

accusative

ihren Mann

ihre Frau

ihr Kind

ihre Kinder

 

"declension" of the possessive pronoun (unser = our)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

unser Vater

unsere Mutter

unser Kind

unsere Kinder

genitive

unseres Vaters

unserer Mutter

unseres Kindes

unserer Kinder

dative

unserem Vater

unserer Mutter

unserem Kind

unseren Kindern

accusative

unseren Vater

unsere Mutter

unser Kind

unsere Kinder

 

"declension" of the possessive pronoun (euer = your, plural)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

euer Vater

eure Mutter*

euer Kind

eure Kinder*

genitive

eures Vaters*

eurer Mutter*

eures Kindes*

eurer Kinder*

dative

eurem Vater*

eurer Mutter*

eurem Kind*

euren Kindern*

accusative

euren Vater*

eure Mutter*

euer Kind

eure Kinder*


As you can see all the possessive pronouns have got the same endings. So you have to know just one and you know all. If you compare it with the "declension" of indifinite article you will see they also have the same ending. That makes it much easier. Of course there is an exception. The possessive pronoun "euer" (=your, plural) sometimes drops the "e" in the middle (marked with a *). Forget this for now.



declension of adjectives (adjective endings)


declension of adjectives without article

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

guter Mann

gute Frau

gutes Kind

gute Familien

genitive

guten Mannes

guter Frau

guten Kindes

guter Familien

dative

gutem Mann

guter Frau

gutem Kind

guten Familien

accusative

guten Mann

gute Frau

gutes Kind

gute Familien



declension of adjectives with definite article (der, die, das)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

der gute Mann

die gute Frau

das gute Kind

die guten Familien

genitive

des guten Mannes

der guten Frau

des guten Kindes

der guten Familien

dative

dem guten Mann

der guten Frau

dem guten Kind

den guten Familien

accusative

den guten Mann

die gute Frau

das gute Kind

die guten Familien



declension of adjectives with indefinite article (ein)

case

Singular

Plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

ein guter Mann

eine gute Frau

ein gutes Kind

-

genitive

eines guten Mannes

einer guten Frau

eines guten Kindes

-

dative

einem guten Mann

einer guten Frau

einem guten Kind

-

accusative

einen guten Mann

eine gute Frau

ein gutes Kind

-



"declension" of "der-words"


"declension" of the pronoun (dies- = this, these)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

dieser Mann

diese Frau

dieses Kind

diese Kinder

genitive

dieses Mannes

dieser Frau

dieses Kindes

dieser Kinder

dative

diesem Mann

dieser Frau

diesem Kind

diesen Kindern

accusative

diesen Mann

diese Frau

dieses Kind

diese Kinder

 

"declension" of the pronoun (jen- = that, those)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

jener Mann

jene Frau

jenes Kind

jene Kinder

genitive

jenes Mannes

jener Frau

jenes Kindes

jener Kinder

dative

jenem Mann

jener Frau

jenem Kind

jenen Kindern

accusative

jenen Mann

jene Frau

jenes Kind

jene Kinder


"declension" of the pronoun (welch- = which)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

welcher Mann

welche Frau

welches Kind

welche Kinder

genitive

welches Mannes

welcher Frau

welches Kindes

welcher Kinder

dative

welchem Mann

welcher Frau

welchem Kind

welchen Kindern

accusative

welchen Mann

welche Frau

welches Kind

welche Kinder

 

"declension" of the pronoun (solch- = such)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

solcher Mann

solche Frau

solches Kind

solche Kinder

genitive

solches Mannes

solcher Frau

solches Kindes

solcher Kinder

dative

solchem Mann

solcher Frau

solchem Kind

solchen Kindern

accusative

solchen Mann

solche Frau

solches Kind

solche Kinder


"declension" of the pronoun (jed- = each, every)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

jeder Mann

jede Frau

jedes Kind

jede Kinder

genitive

jedes Mannes

jeder Frau

jedes Kindes

jeder Kinder

dative

jedem Mann

jeder Frau

jedem Kind

jeden Kindern

accusative

jeden Mann

jede Frau

jedes Kind

jede Kinder

 

"declension" of the pronoun (manch- = some)

case

singular

plural

male

female

neuter

-

nominative

mancher Mann

manche Frau

manches Kind

manche Kinder

genitive

manches Mannes

mancher Frau

manches Kindes

mancher Kinder

dative

manchem Mann

mancher Frau

manchem Kind

manchen Kindern

accusative

manchen Mann

manche Frau

manches Kind

manche Kinder


As you can see all "der-words" have got the same ending. If you know one then you know all.


 

exercises


Nominativ und Akkusativ

Fälle 1

 

tom homework

 

 

Fälle 2 (a+b+c+d)

 

tom homework

 

 

Fälle 3 (b+c) + (a+d = old topics)

 

tom homework

 

 

Fälle 4 (all)

 

tom homework

 

 

Fälle 5 (a+b+c)

 

tom homework

 

 

Fälle 6 (all)

 

tom homework

 

 

Fälle 7 (a+b)

 

tom homework

 

 

Fälle 8

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 

Nominativ, Akkusativ und Dativ

Fälle 9

 

tom homework

 

 

new vocabulary (vocabulary for Fälle 9 + 10)

 

Fälle 10 (a+b+d+e)

 

tom homework

 

 

Fälle 11

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 

Fälle 12

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 

Fälle 13

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 

Fälle 14

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 

Fälle 15

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 

Fälle 16

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 

Genitiv

Fälle 17

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 

Fälle 18

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 

Fälle 19

 

tom homework

 

Lösung

 


summary - documents for your folder


Die 4 Fälle (theory, 15 pages)

 

 

Die 4 Fälle (short summary, 1 page)