Have you been struggling with the German cases? If yes, you have reached the right place! In this post, we will be taking you through the genitive case in German in detail. The case is known as der Genitiv in German.
We already know that there are four cases in German. They are Nominativ, Akkusativ, Dativ and Genitiv. The nominative case is used for subjects, accusative case for direct objects, dative case for indirect objects and the genitive case is used to signify possession or belonging.
We had introduced you to the 4 cases in German in this post. If you are a German language beginner, make sure you check the lesson before going through this one!
If you want to learn about the other 3 German cases in detail, check out the lessons here –
1. Nominative Case in German
2. Accusative Case in German
3. Dative Case in German
What is the German Genitive Case?
The genitive case in German is used to express belonging or possession. It is known as der Genitiv. This case answers the question “wessen?” or “whose?”.
Definite and Indefinite Articles in the Genitive Case in German
The German Definite Articles in Genitive Case
A definite article is used before a noun when the reader or listener knows exactly what is being referred to. It normally points out to a specific person or thing. In English, “the” is a definite article. Example – The man is travelling to London. Here, a specific man or person is travelling to London.
Examples of the bestimmter Artikel or definite articles in the genitive case in German are -: des Vaters – the father’s, der Kollegin – the colleague’s (female), des Jahres – the year’s, der Nachbarn – the neighbours’.
Das Auto des Vaters ist rot. (der Vater) -> The father’s car is red.
Das Handy der Kollegin ist alt. (die Kollegin) -> The colleague’s cell phone is old.
Am Ende des Jahres haben wir eine Prüfung geschrieben. (das Jahr) -> At the end of the year we wrote an exam.
Wir gehen mit den Kindern der Nachbarn spazieren. (Pl. die Nachbarn) -> We are going for a walk with the neighbours’ children.
The German Indefinite Articles in Genitive Case
An indefinite article is used when we talk or write about an indefinite person or thing. In English, “a” and “an” are indefinite articles. Example – A man is travelling to London. Here, a man could be any man.
Indefinite article in the genitive case in German for the masculine gender is “eines“, for the feminine form it is “einer” and for the neuter gender it is “eines“. There is no plural form in case of indefinite articles.
As discussed already, the English indefinite articles are “a” and “an”. In English, for the plural form, we do not say “I buy an apples.” or “I buy a grapes.”, as it is incorrect. We only say “I buy apples.” or “I buy grapes”. Similarly, in German there is no indefinite article for the plural forms.
Examples of the unbestimmter Artikel or indefinite articles in the German genitive case are -: eines Mannes- a man’s, einer Freundin – a friend’s, eines Kindes – a child’s.
Das ist das Auto eines Mannes. (der Mann) -> That is a man’s car.
Das ist die Tasche einer Freundin. (die Freundin) -> That is a friend’s purse.
Das sind die Spielzeuge eines Kindes. (das Kind) -> These are a child’s toys.
|Definite Article / Bestimmter Artikel||Indefinite Article / Unbestimmter Artikel|
|Masculine||des + (e) s||eines + (e) s|
|Neuter||des + (e) s||eines + (e) s|
When is the ‘s’ or ‘es’ ending added?
As you can see in the table above, the masculine and neuter gender takes either the ‘s’ or ‘es’ ending.
- If the noun has one syllable or in case it ends with s, ß or ss, x, z, tz and chs, ‘es’ is added as an ending. Example : das Kind -> des Kindes
- Nouns with more than one syllable add ‘s’ to the ending. Example : der Opa -> des Opas
- For nouns ending in ‘nis’, ‘ses’ is added as an ending. Example : das Ergebnis -> des Ergebnisses
- In cases where the N-Deklination is applicable, -n or -en is added as an ending. Example : der Kunde -> des Kunden
What is N-Declension? Some masculine and neuter nouns have a different declension and it is known as N-Declension or N-Deklination. We will be covering this topic soon!
Showing Possession by a Person or Place
In case you talk about possession of something by someone, “s” is added to the name of the person. This is similar to English. There is just one difference – no apostrophe is added in German.
Milos Auto -> Milo’s car
Katyas Brille -> Katya’s glasses
Sometimes there is a possibility that the names already end with s or z. In such cases, an apostrophe is added after writing the name.
Hans‘ Jacke -> Hans’s jacket / Hans’ jacket
Fritz‘ Rechner -> Fritz’s computer
In case of geographical names without articles, s is added as an ending.
Die Hauptstadt Indiens ist Delhi. (Indien) -> The capital of India is Delhi.
In case the geographical name has an article, s cannot be added.
Die Hauptstadt der Türkei ist Ankara. (die Türkei) -> The capital of Turkey is Ankara.
Negative Articles in the Genitive Case in German
Negative articles are used to negate nouns. Although in the plural case we don’t have an indefinite article, we do have a negative article “kein” in case of the negations.
Er kennt keines der Telefonnummern. -> He doesn’t know any of the phone numbers.
Indefinite Pronouns in the German Genitive Case
There are a few pronouns which refer to persons or things in a general way, but they do not refer to a specific person or thing. These are called the indefinite pronouns. In English, these pronouns are one, none, all, some, many, few, nobody, anybody etc. Example– One hardly knows what to do. / Few escaped unhurt. / Do good to others. / All were drowned.
In German, some of the indefinite pronouns which can be used to express an indefinite number are “jed-“, “ein-“,”kein-“,”all-“,”viel-” and “wenig-“. The endings of these stems will depend on the gender and cases.
Other indefinite pronouns in their genitive form include:
eines [one’s] – to talk about people in general. Verbs are used in singular form when man is used in a sentence.
jemandes [someone’s] – to talk about an indefinite person.
niemandes [nobody’s] – to refer to nobody or no one.
wegen etwas [because of / due to something] – to talk about an indefinite object or thing.
wegen nichts [because of / for nothing] – to refer to no object or thing.
Possessive Articles in the Genitive Case in German
Possessive articles show that something belongs to someone. That means, they show possession or belonging. A possessive article is used before the noun. Please note, there are no possessive pronouns in the genitive case in German.
My father’s car is beautiful.
Das Auto meines Vaters ist schön.
|eines + (e) s||einer||eines + (e) s||-/der|
|my||meines Bruders||meiner Mutter||meines Buchs||meiner Blumen|
|your||deines Bruders||deiner Mutter||deines Buchs||deiner Blumen|
|his||seines Bruders||seiner Mutter||seines Buchs||seiner Blumen|
|her||ihres Bruders||ihrer Mutter||ihres Buchs||ihrer Blumen|
|its||seines Bruders||seiner Mutter||seines Buchs||seiner Blumen|
|our||unseres Bruders||unserer Mutter||unseres Buchs||unserer Blumen|
|your||eures Bruders||eurer Mutter||eures Buchs||eurer Blumen|
|their||ihres Bruders||ihrer Mutter||ihres Buchs||ihrer Blumen|
|your (formal)||Ihres Bruders||Ihrer Mutter||Ihres Buchs||Ihrer Blumen|
Question Word “Welch-” in the Genitive Case in German
“Welch-” is an interrogative pronoun in German. It is used to ask question about a person or thing. It replaces a person or a thing. This question word takes endings similar to definite articles. The use of this interrogative pronoun is limited in this case compared to other cases.
Which man’s pullover is that?
Welchen Mannes Pullover ist das? / Welches Mannes Pullover ist das?
|Question Word “Welch-“|
|Masculine||Welches / Welchen|
|Neuter||Welches / Welchen|
Demonstrative Pronouns in the German Genitive Case
Demonstrative pronouns are used to point out the objects or things they refer to clearly. Words such as this, that or those are used in English as demonstrative adjectives. Demonstrative pronouns are used directly, without a noun.
When it comes to the genitive case in German, these pronouns are identical with relative pronouns.
Whose hat is red? -> his
Wessen Hut ist rot? -> dessen
The demonstrative pronouns are not used very frequently in the genitive case.
Ich besuche Karl und dessen Eltern. -> I visit Karl and his parents.
|Masculine||Wessen Hut?||dieses / dessen|
|Feminine||Wessen Socke?||dieser / deren / derer|
|Neuter||Wessen T-Shirt?||dieses / dessen|
|Plural||Wessen Jacken?||dieser / deren / derer|
Demonstrative Articles in the Genitive Case in German
Demonstrative articles, similar to demonstrative pronouns, are used to point out the objects or things they refer to clearly. The difference between the two is that demonstrative articles are used before a noun.
Whose pullover do you find better? -> his pullover
Wessen Pullover findest du besser? -> dessen Pullover
|Masculine||Wessen Pullover?||dieses / des Pullovers|
|Feminine||Wessen Socke?||dieser / der Socke|
|Neuter||Wessen T-Shirt?||dieses / des T-Shirts|
|Plural||Wessen Jacken?||dieser / der Jacken|
Adjective Endings in the German Genitive Case
An adjective is a word that describes the noun. When adjectives used to describe a particular noun appear before the noun, they take the adjective endings. In English, there are no adjective endings.
Jung is the adjective below which has been given an ending based on the gender of the noun Mann (der) which is masculine.
This is the cell phone of the young man.
Das ist das Handy des jungen Mannes. (der Mann)
Schön is the adjective below which has been given an ending based on the gender of the noun Jacke (die) which is feminine.
This is the car of a beautiful woman.
Das ist das Auto einer schönen Frau. (die Frau)
Klein is the adjective below which has been given an ending based on the gender of the noun Kind (das) which is neuter.
This is the mother of a small child.
Das ist die Mutter eines kleinen Kindes. (das Kind)
Klein is the adjective below which has been given an ending based on the gender of the noun Kinder (die) which is plural.
The mother of small children.
Die Mutter kleiner Kinder. (Pl. die Kinder)
|Definite Article||Indefinite Article||Without Article|
|Masculine||des netten Mannes||eines netten Mannes||netten Mannes|
|Feminine||der schönen Frau||einer schönen Frau||schöner Frau|
|Neuter||des kleinen Kindes||eines kleinen Kindes||kleinen Kindes|
|Plural||der alten Bücher||– alter Bücher||alter Bücher|
Relative Pronouns in the Genitive Case in German
A relative pronoun is a word which is used to refer to nouns mentioned previously or in a previous sentence. Relative pronouns can be used to join two sentences. Some of the relative pronouns in the English language are which, that, whose, whoever, whomever, who, and whom.
I have found the pen. I lost the pen.
I have found the pen which I lost.
Similarly in German, depending on each case and the gender of the nouns, relative pronouns can be used instead of the nouns. Below is an example as well as a table of relative pronouns in the genitive case in German.
This is our neighbor whose car broke down today.
Das ist unser Nachbar, dessen Auto heute kaputt gegangen ist.
The artist whose painting we bought is Australian.
Die Künstlerin, deren Bild wir gekauft haben, ist Australierin.
We will be elaborating on this topic in the future posts soon so don’t forget to come back and check how to build relative sentences!
Genitive Prepositions in German
Below is a list of German genitive prepositions. The nouns and pronouns following these prepositions will always be in the genitive case. For more information on this, check out our lesson “Learn German Prepositions the Easy Way.”
|wegen||because of / concerning /|
|statt||instead of / in preference to..|
|infolge||due to / as a result of|
|innerhalb||within / inside|
|unterhalb||beneath / underneath|
|außerhalb||beyond / outside of|
|oberhalb||above / on the upper side of|
German Verbs which take the Genitive Case
We have already written a lesson on “Basic Dative Verbs and Accusative Verbs in German” so don’t forget to check it out! Some of the German genitive verbs are as follows :-
|anklagen||to accuse somebody (of something)|
|bedürfen||to demand / need something|
|überführen||to convict somebody|
|bezichtigen||to accuse somebody (of something)|
|verdächtigen||to suspect somebody (of something)|
|überdrüssig sein||to be tired (of something)|
German Genitive Case Summary
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