The four cases in German language (Overview)
The german language has
four different cases. Each case has particular
role or function in the sentence. Normaly you see
a noun is a subject when it comes before the verb. If it is an object,
comes after the verb. In German, these different roles are
by the case and are shown in the endings. To kow the case in a sentence
ist improtant, beacuse the case dictates the ending of definite
(der, die, das), indefinite articles (ein, eine, ein) and adjectives
The nominative case (der
The nominative case in a sentence is used when the noun is the subject
of the sentence,. That means the subject ist the agent of what is
It is the answer (in a sentence) to the question "whoor waht is
The genitive case (der
The genitive caes is used in a sentence to show the relationship
between two nouns. It indicates that one thing belongs to the
The dative case (der
In accusative case forms the direct object. Many verbs in the german
language can take a second object, the so called indirect object
Objekt). The indirect object is the answer in a sentence to the
to whom or what, or for whom is the action done.
The accusative case (der
The noun in the accusative is the so called direct object. That means
this noun is the receiver of the action in the sentence. The direct
is the answer to the question who or what is affected by
But this is not the whole
truth. The case of a noun in a sentence is
not only determined by its function in the sentence. The case can be
by the used verb and the preposition.This is the reason why its is so
to learn which verbs take the dative, and which prepositions take a
case. Preposition in German require a certain case. For example
preposition equires the dative case, then the object in the German
must be in the dative even if it have the function of a direct object.
Example: "For my friend" is the indirect object, but the german
"für meinen Freund" is in the accusative case because the
"für" requires the accusative.
Notes to different cases
- Note: the nominative has to be used after the verb
to be) and "werden" (engl. to become).
German: Er ist ein netter Mann (the ending -er of
netter indicates the monainative cas)
English: He is a
- The following prepositions take the genitive case:
während (during), wegen (because) and anstatt (instead of)
- the dative case in German is determined by a
few verbs. The most
important verbs are: helfen (to help), danken (to thank), gehören
(to belong to) and folgen (to follow). But the dative is also after the
following prepositions: aus (from), bei (at), gegenüber
mit (with), nach (after), seit (since, for), von (from) and zu (to).
- the majority of German verbs which can take an object
take the accusative
case. Also a many preposition require the accusative. The following
prepositions always take the accusative: bis (until), durch (through),
für (for), gegen (against), ohne (without) and um (at).
The accusative case is mainly used for the direct object in a sentence.
But as you can see the accusative case can also be determined by the
and prepositons. This is the reason why it is possible to
more than one accusative form in a sentence.