Genitive Case in German

Learn about the genitive case in German in this free online lesson with easy-to-understand examples. This is the very last, you will be glad to hear, of the German cases.


Genitive Case in German

Here are the answers to a few questions you might have about the German genitive case:


1.) How can I identify the genitive case in German?

Its main function is to show possession similar to the English 's or the preposition of.

For example:-

This is my brother's car. The 'brother' is possessing the car.

In German, the person or thing that possesses is in this case.


2.) Why is it important to know about the genitive case?

Because all German nouns make a 'declensional' change in this case, i.e. they all change their form, and some nouns themselves change form.


4.) What do these changes look like?

Let's take a look at these changes with the help of the following three tables.

I will highlight where necessary the changes in blue


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Genitive Case in German: Section 1

Definite articles in the genitive case 
(i.e. the various forms of 'the')

Definite articles change their form in this case to the following:

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
des der desder
(+ s/es at the end of a masculine or neuter noun)

Examples

Masculine noun example:

Das Buch des Lehrers (The teacher's book).
'The teacher' is in this case as he possesses the book. Notice the additional -s at the end of 'Lehrer'.


Feminine noun example:

Das Auto der Frau (The woman's car).
'The woman' is in this case as she possesses the car.


Neuter noun example:

Das Essen des Kindes (The child's food).
'The child' is in this case as he/she possesses the food. Notice the additional -es at the end of 'Kind'.


Plural noun example:

Die Hemden der Männer (The men's shirts). 
'The men' are in this case as they possess the shirts.



Genitive Case in German: Section 2

Indefinite articles in the genitive case 
(i.e. the various forms of 'a' / 'an' in German)

All indefinite articles change their form to the following:

Masculine Feminine Neuter
eines einer eines
(+ s/es at the end of a masculine or neuter noun)

Examples

Masculine noun example:

Der Pass eines Ausländers (A foreigner's passport). 'The foreigner' is in this case as he/she possesses the passport. Notice the additional -s at the end of 'Ausländer'.

Feminine noun example:

Das Gehalt einer Mitarbeiterin (The salary of a female employee). 'A female employee' is in this case as she possesses the salary.

Neuter noun example:

Der Hund eines Mädchens (A girl's dog). 'A girl' is in this case as she possesses the dog. Notice the additional -s at the end of 'Mädchen'.


Genitive Case in German: Section 3

Possessive pronoun endings in the genitive case
(i.e. small words which replace nouns and establish possession)


Once again, all the possessive pronouns change their form in this case.

But, as you will know from the previous case lessons, the pattern here (the endings to be specific) is identical to that which you learned above in the indefinite article table and all the possessive pronouns follow the same pattern.


You just need to add an 'es' to the end of the masculine possessive pronoun, an 'er' to the end of the feminine one and an 'es' again to the end of the neuter one.


Masculine Feminine Neuter English translation
meines meiner meines my
deines deiner deines your (informal singular)
seines seiner seines his
ihres ihrer ihres her
seines seiner seines its
unseres unserer unseres our
eures eurer eures your (informal plural)
Ihres Ihrer Ihres your (formal singular and plural)
ihres ihrer ihres their

Examples

Masculine noun example:

Die Freundin meines Sohnes (My son's girlfriend). 'My son' is in this case as he 'possesses' the girlfriend. Notice the additional -es at the end of 'Sohn'.


Feminine noun example:

Die Handtasche deiner Mutter (Your mother's handbag). 'Your mother' is in this case as she possesses the handbag.


Neuter noun example:

Ein Teil unseres Hauses (A part of our house). 'Our house' is in this case as it possesses the part. Notice the additional -es at the end of 'Haus'.


Notice how in all three of these tables the possesser always follows that which is possessed.

Only when using the possessive form of a person's name or a thing, should you add an 's' as we do to English, just without an apostrophe. For example:

Clares Buch - Clare's book.

Now, you have completed your German cases lesson, it is time to learn all about German prepositions. 


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