Home German Language German Instances Defined, Plus Memorization Suggestions and Follow Assets

German Instances Defined, Plus Memorization Suggestions and Follow Assets

German Instances Defined, Plus Memorization Suggestions and Follow Assets


german cases

First, let’s tackle the massive query: What’s a case?

In any language, a case is a technique to present how a phrase integrates right into a sentence. It’s form of like taking a look at a schematic of a constructing and determining how the flooring, stairs, rooms and hallways match collectively.

There are 4 German circumstances: nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. Most German sentences embody no less than one case, nevertheless it’s uncommon that you just’ll see all 4 circumstances in a single sentence.

Figuring out your circumstances is important in German, as many phrases change relying on what case they’re in. 

So with out additional ado, let’s study the German circumstances!


German Instances Defined


The nominative case is first on our record as a result of it’s sometimes first within the sentence, and it’s the case you’ll in all probability get probably the most observe in.

On this part, we’ll give attention to the most typical use, the place the nominative case is the topic of the sentence.

(As you progress up in fluency and create extra advanced sentences, you could use complete phrases as the topic within the nominative case. And later we’ll see examples of a double nominative, or no nominative in any respect—however don’t fear about these but!)

If you begin studying German, you usually start sentences with ich (I). For instance:

Ich heiße… (I’m referred to as…)

Ich bin… (I am…)

In each of those phrases, ich is within the nominative case, because the sentence’s topic. Right here’s one other instance:

Sarah wohnt in Berlin. (Sarah lives in Berlin.)

Right here, Sarah is the topic of the sentence and so is within the nominative case. Discover that the verb wohnen (to stay, reside) is conjugated within the er/sie/es (he/she/it) kind, since we’re speaking within the third particular person. 

That leads us to two ideas for recognizing the nominative case:

  • Verb conjugation. The verb will sometimes be conjugated in relation to the topic of the sentence, and the topic of the sentence shall be within the nominative case.
  • Particular and indefinite articles. The nominative case will solely use derdie or das for particular articles, and ein or eine for indefinite aricles.

If both of those traits doesn’t match, we transfer on to the subsequent candidate—the accusative case.


The accusative case is often used for the direct object of the sentence, although there are accusative prepositions and accusative pronouns as properly.

The accusative happens nearly as usually because the nominative case. What’s nice concerning the accusative case is that it’s fairly straightforward to determine:

  • Begin by in search of a number of nouns and/or pronouns inside the sentence.
  • Decide which noun/pronoun is getting used with the conjugated verb—this one is within the nominative case.
  • Any remaining noun(s)/pronoun(s) are in a distinct case.
  • Take a look at the verb once more to see the connection it has to the remaining noun(s)/pronoun(s). In the event that they obtain the motion of the verb, they’re direct objects and qualify because the accusative case.

Searching for a shortcut? Take a take a look at the masculine noun(s)/pronoun(s) in your sentence. Do they embody den or einen? For instance:

Suzie kauft einen Apfel. (Suzie buys an apple.)

Right here, the verb kauft (buys) corresponds with Suzie, who’s the topic of the sentence and is within the nominative case. The shopping for motion is being performed to the apple, which makes it the direct object. And einen Apfel is in truth within the accusative case!

Listed here are some extra examples:

Sie kaufen den Käse und schneiden ihn. (They purchase the cheese and reduce it.)

Did you discover the -n ending on the den earlier than Käse? That’s a tell-tale signal of a masculine noun within the accusative case. Within the second a part of the sentence, the pronoun ihn replaces den Käse, additionally within the accusative case. 

Wir gehen durch den Wald. (We stroll by way of the forest.)

On this instance, durch is an accusative preposition, which implies that any noun(s)/pronoun(s) following it’ll at all times be within the accusative case.

Don’t have any worry—we’ll speak extra about this later, and there’s loads of locations so that you can observe figuring out the accusative!


The German dative case is a bit much less outlined than the nominative or accusative circumstances. Whereas the dative case normally happens because the oblique object of a sentence, it could additionally present up as prepositions, verbs and pronouns as properly.

Let’s take a look at an instance:

Mein Bruder gibt seiner Freundin einen Ring. (My brother offers his girlfriend a hoop.)

The brother is the topic within the nominative case and the ring is acted upon because the direct object within the accusative case. Because the girlfriend is the recipient of the direct object (the ring), she is the oblique object within the dative case.

So what concerning the instance beneath?

Mein Kopf tut mir weh. (My head hurts (me).)

That is the place it will get tough. The verb wehtun (to harm) is separable and takes a dative object. We are saying “My head hurts” in English, however in German, it’s essential to state who feels the harm—me, within the dative case.

If you happen to’ve ever seen or used the verb sich waschen (to clean oneself), you’ll perceive why:

Ich wasche mich. (I wash myself.)

Ich wasche mir die Haare. (I wash my hair.)

When used alone, sich waschen is an accusative reflexive verb. Nevertheless, after we add an object to the sentence, the reference mich turns from the accusative case to the dative case as mir.

It’s price taking a while to study which verbs are at all times dative. As an example, if somebody says one thing to you, it’s at all times dative:

Ich habe dir gesagt, dass du um zehn Uhr nach Hause kommen sollst. (I advised you to return residence at ten o’clock.) 

The dative case isn’t at all times so difficult although. Actually, there are loads of prepositions which take the dative case, comparable to mit (with, by the use of):

Wir fahren mit der Bahn nach Italien. (We’re touring to Italy by practice.)

So, how are you going to spot the dative case in motion? Return to these particular and indefinite articles.

Nouns and pronouns within the dative case will change from der, die and das to dem, der and dem, respectively, whereas plural nouns and pronouns will change from die to den. Indefinite articles replicate the identical endings: -em, -er, -em and -en.

Watch out right here, as a result of it may be straightforward to confuse the plural den with the accusative masculine den. Don’t fall for that crimson herring!


Final however actually not least, the genitive is often used to indicate possession. Like most of the German circumstances, the genitive may additionally seem in prepositions, verbs and pronouns.

Contemplate this instance sentence:

Das Useful meines Bruders ist kaputt. (My brother’s cellular phone is damaged. / The cellular phone of my brother is damaged.)

To get the genitive down, it’s useful to keep in mind that “of” a part of the phrasing.

As an example, suppose “the ground of my bed room” as a substitute of “my bed room flooring.” Or “the track of my individuals” as a substitute of “my individuals’s track.” And even “the attention of my thoughts” as a substitute of “my thoughts’s eye.”

German additionally contains genitive prepositions, comparable to außerhalb (exterior of):

Sie wohnt außerhalb der Stadt. (She lives exterior of town.

And when possession isn’t straightforward to find out, look to your trusty confidential informants—particular and indefinite articles.

The genitive case is straightforward as a result of its articles solely use -es (masculine and neuter) and -er (female) endings. If you happen to need assistance remembering this, strive considering of the phrase “his and hers.” The possessive pronoun “his” has an “s” whereas “hers” has an “r.”

Notice that the genitive case is taken into account a elaborate grammatical remnant of older German language. Some individuals suppose it’s extra bother than it’s price, and plainly it’s getting used much less and fewer.

However in fact, it’s nonetheless good to have the ability to acknowledge and make use of it!

Suggestions for Studying the German Instances

Memorize declensions and genders

In English, you at all times know the place you stand along with your articles. No matter gender, amount or who’s doing what motion, “the” will at all times be “the.”

German is much extra particular. Memorize the declensions (which inform you details about a noun’s case, quantity and gender) that will help you acknowledge every case. Listed here are particular articles in German (English “the”), for instance: 

Masculine Female Neuter Plural
Nominative der die das die
Accusative den die das die
Dative dem der dem den
Genitive des der des der

Recognizing the types of particular articles in a sentence will make it easier to determine circumstances that a lot faster.

Equally, memorizing the gender of German nouns is crucial, as you’ll be capable of confidently assess which article is in use for those who have the identical kind.

Perceive the assorted makes use of of the nominative

The nominative case is the topic of the sentence. Whereas that’s usually simply the particular person or factor doing the motion, there are a number of extra difficult situations of the nominative case.

First, there’s the double nominative. If a sentence solely makes use of some type of the verb sein (to be), then each nouns within the sentence are within the nominative case. As an example:

Die neue Studentin ist eine Französin aus Paris. (The brand new pupil is a French woman from Paris)

Das Praktikum warfare die beste Erfahrung meines Lebens. (The internship was one of the best expertise of my life.)

It is smart if you concentrate on it, as a result of the sentence doesn’t even have an object—it simply has the identical topic twice. Nevertheless, understand that, as with all rule, there are exceptions and this isn’t at all times the case 100% of the time.

Second, there are German sentences with out the nominative case.

If you happen to’re simply beginning German, you could be tempted to say “Ich bin kalt” to say “I’m chilly,” however as a substitute of describing your temperature, you’re as a substitute making your self sound emotionally vacant or withdrawn. 

It is best to as a substitute say “Mir ist kalt,” which accurately interprets into English as “To me is chilly” however is the correct German technique to specific discomfort when the window is open. Right here, there’s just one pronoun, and it’s within the dative case. You’re basically saying that the setting is chilly for you, reasonably than you simply being chilly.

Know the distinction between direct and oblique objects

This may make it a lot simpler so that you can distinguish between the accusative and dative circumstances particularly. Needless to say:

  • An object which instantly receives the impact of an motion and is the first object of the sentence is a direct object. For instance: Please write the essay.”
  • An object which is passively affected by an motion and isn’t the first object of the sentence is an oblique object. For instance: “Inform him the information.” Notice that right here, “the information” is the direct object.

Study the 31 most typical prepositions

This may make it easier to study German circumstances as a result of German prepositions take nouns of particular circumstances.

The most typical prepositions could be outlined by these 4 teams:

  • Dative prepositions: ab (away from), aus (out of, from), bei (at, close to), mit (with), nach (after, to, based on), seit (since, for), von (from, of), zu (to), gegenüber (throughout from, reverse).
  • Accusative prepositions: bis (to, as much as, till), durch (by way of, by the use of), für (for), gegen (towards), ohne (with out), um (at, round (time)) and entlang (alongside).
  • Genitive prepositions: außerhalb (exterior of), innerhalb (within), jenseits (on the opposite facet of, past), während (whereas, throughout), trotz (regardless of), and dank (due to).

Twin prepositions: an (to, on), auf (on, upon), hinter (behind), in (in, into), neben (subsequent to), über (above), unter (below), vor (earlier than, in entrance of) and zwischen (between, amongst).

For twin prepositions, it is dependent upon whether or not the motion you’re describing is stationary or shifting. 

If the topic of the verb is shifting, then the noun shall be within the accusative case, for instance: 

Wir gehen in den Supermarkt.  (We go to the grocery store.) 

The motion describes strolling, so motion, so the masculine noun Supermarkt goes within the accusative case, so it’s essential to use den

If the topic of the verb is stationary, so not shifting, then you definitely put the noun after the preposition within the dative case:

Ich sitze auf der Financial institution (I’m sitting on the bench)

The motion described is sitting nonetheless, so the female noun Financial institution goes within the dative case, so it’s essential to use der

So, when you memorize some frequent prepositions, you’ll know precisely which case it’s essential to use after it.

Assets for Working towards German Instances

One of the simplest ways to higher perceive German circumstances is to observe!

I extremely advocate you begin with diagramming sentences in German. Take your time to find out the case of every noun (pronoun, and so forth.) in your research sentences, and why they’re in that individual case. Finally, you’ll begin noticing the patterns by yourself with out having to diagram every sentence.

You will get sentences from quite a lot of locations, comparable to German textbooks, graded readers, TV reveals, motion pictures and extra.

Actually, studying and listening to how native Germans use circumstances will make it easier to get aware of them. You could strive listening to German audiobooks or YouTube movies, or you could need to strive applications made particularly for language learners.

The FluentU program, for instance, helps you study circumstances in context through genuine German movies. These movies are categorized by stage and matter, and embody interactive captions with contextual definitions and instance sentences.

You may flip new phrases into flashcards for later research, and take customized quizzes to check whether or not you actually understood every video. FluentU can be utilized on desktop or as an app (iOS and Android) so you may take heed to German circumstances in use at residence or on the go.

For added observe and research supplies, try:

  • Study German—hear circumstances utilized in level-appropriate conditions.
  • German.internet—observe the nominative case first, or choose the world you want probably the most assist with.
  • German Prepositions Battleship—check your information of prepositions and their circumstances by enjoying this traditional recreation.
  • Verbs with Prepositions—use this printout as a reference or recall it.
  • Simple Deutsch—fill within the appropriate pronouns within the quiz, utilizing the genitive kind as wanted.


Upon getting extra expertise recognizing German circumstances, you’ll be capable of see the relationships of the phrases in these lengthy German sentences.

And if you’re comfy with the German circumstances, you’ll be capable of begin writing and talking German with better fluency. You bought this!