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 nominative case in German in detail. The case is known as der Nominativ in German.
You must already be knowing that there are four cases in German. They are Nominativ, Akkusativ, Dativ and Genetiv. 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 have already introduced you to the 4 cases in German in this post. If you are a German language beginner, make sure you check the article before going through this one.
If you want to learn about the other 3 German cases in detail, check out the lessons here –
1. Accusative Case in German
2. Dative Case in German
3. Genitive Case in German
What is the Nominative Case in German?
The nominative case describes the subject of the sentence. The subject could either be a person or a thing.
The nominative case answers the question “wer?” which means “who” or “was?” which means “what“.
The question “wer?” is in case of a person. In the example below, the question is “Who is this?”, and the response is “This is Karl.”. Karl is thus the subject here.
Wer ist das? -> Das ist Karl.
The question “was?” is in case of a thing. In the example below, the question is “What is this?” and the response is “That is a book.”. The book is thus the subject of the sentence.
Was ist das? -> Das ist ein Buch.
Definite and Indefinite Articles in the German Nominative Case
The German Definite Articles in Nominative 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 patient is suffering from cold. Here, the specific patient is suffering from cold.
Definite article in German for the masculine gender is “der“, feminine is “die“, neuter is “das” and for plural it is “die“.
Examples of the bestimmter Artikel or definite articles in German are -: der Mann 👨 – the man, die Frau 👩 – the woman, das T-Shirt 👕 – the T-shirt, die Blumen 💐- the flowers.
Der Mann wohnt in Bern. -> The man lives in Bern.
Die Frau wohnt in Berlin. -> The woman lives in Berlin.
Das T-Shirt ist schwarz. -> The T-Shirt is black.
Die Sterne sind weiß. -> The stars are white.
The German Indefinite Articles in Nominative Case
An indefinite article is used when we talk or write about any non-specific person or thing. In English, “a” and “an” are indefinite articles. Example – A patient is suffering from cold. Here, a patient could be any patient, not a specific one.
Indefinite article in German for the masculine gender is “ein“, for the feminine form it is “eine” and for the neuter gender it is “ein“. 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 “These are an apples.” or “These are a grapes.”, as it is incorrect. We only say “These are apples.” or “These are grapes”. Similarly, in German there is no indefinite article for the plural forms.
Examples of the unbestimmter Artikel or indefinite articles in German are -: ein Mann 👨 – a man, eine Frau 👩 – a woman, ein Kind 🧒- a child.
Das ist ein Mann. -> That is a man.
Das ist eine Frau. -> That is a woman.
Das ist ein Kind. -> That is a child.
Das sind Blumen. -> These are flowers.
|Definite Article /|
|Indefinite Article /|
Negative Articles in the Nominative 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 “keine” in case of the negations. Below are examples for each gender.
Ist das ein Bleistift? -> 🖊️ (Is that a pencil?) [der Bleistift]
Nein, das ist kein Bleistift. (No, that is not a pencil.)
Das ist ein Kuli. (That is a pen.) [der Kuli]
Ist das eine Lizenz? -> 💳 (Is that a license?) [die Lizenz]
Nein, das ist keine Lizenz. (No, that is not a license.)
Das ist eine Kreditkarte. (That is a credit card.) [die Kreditkarte]
Ist das ein Ei? -> 🍦 ( Is that an egg?) [das Ei]
Nein, das ist kein Ei. (No, that is not an egg.)
Das ist ein Eis. (That is an ice cream.) [das Eis]
Sind das Bälle? -> 🎈🎈🎈 (Are these balls?) [Pl. die Bälle]
Nein, das sind keine Bälle. (No, they are not balls.)
Das sind Ballons. (They are balloons.) [Pl. die Ballons]
Indefinite Pronouns and Articles in the Nominative Case in German
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.
If there are 100 people in a room and you are referring to the entire room, use “alle” which means “all” in English.
If you are talking about every person in this room, use the pronoun “jeder“, which means “each or every” in English.
If you are talking about 80 people from these 100 people, it is a majority of people. Then use the pronoun “viele” , which means “many or plenty” in English.
If you are talking about 20 people in this room, it is a very small amount of people. Then use the pronoun “wenige“, which means “few” in English.
If you are referring to zero persons in the room or nobody, use “keiner“, which means “noone” in English.
To talk about an indefinite small number, “manch-” which means “some” can be used in singular and plural forms. To talk about a few things or people, “einig-” can be used in the plural form.
Other indefinite pronouns in their nominative form include:
man [one] – to talk about people in general. Verbs are used in singular form when man is used in a sentence.
jemand [someone] – to talk about an indefinite person.
niemand [nobody] – to refer to nobody or no one.
etwas [something] – to talk about an indefinite object or thing.
nichts [nothing] – to refer to no object or thing.
Personal Pronouns in the German Nominative Case
A pronoun is a word which is used instead of a noun or for a noun. A personal pronoun is a word which replaces a person or a thing. For example, if you talk about Anita who is running late due to traffic, it would be appropriate to say “Anita is running late, because she is stuck in traffic.” rather than “Anita is running late, because Anita is stuck in traffic.”
Possessive Pronouns in the Nominative Case in German
Possessive pronouns show that something belongs to someone. It shows possession or belonging. Examples in English are: his, hers, yours, theirs, ours, mine etc. A possessive pronoun is used without a noun.
This book is mine.
Dieses Buch ist meins.
Possessive Articles in the Nominative Case in German
Possessive articles, similar to possessive pronouns show possession or ownership. The difference is that possessive articles are used before nouns.
This is my book.
Das ist mein Buch.
|my||mein Bruder||meine Mutter||mein Buch||meine Blumen|
|your||dein Bruder||deine Mutter||dein Buch||deine Blumen|
|his||sein Bruder||seine Mutter||sein Buch||seine Blumen|
|her||ihr Bruder||ihre Mutter||ihr Buch||ihre Blumen|
|it||sein Bruder||seine Mutter||sein Buch||seine Blumen|
|our||unser Bruder||unsere Mutter||unser Buch||unsere Blumen|
|your||euer Bruder||eure Mutter||euer Buch||eure Blumen|
|their||ihr Bruder||ihre Mutter||ihr Buch||ihre Blumen|
|your (formal)||Ihr Bruder||Ihre Mutter||Ihr Buch||Ihre Blumen|
Question Word “Welch-” in the German Nominative Case
“Welch-” is a commonly used interrogative pronoun in German. It is used to ask a question about a person or thing. It replaces a person or a thing. This question word takes endings similar to definite articles.
Which skirt do you like?
The green skirt is good.
Welcher Rock gefällt dir?
Der grüne Rock ist gut.
|Question Word “Welch-“|
Demonstrative Pronouns in the German Nominative 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.
This pen is mine.
That hat is yours.
Those are her books.
Similarly, in German:
Welcher Hut? -> dieser / der
|Masculine||Welcher Hut?||dieser / der|
|Feminine||Welche Socke||diese / die|
|Neuter||Welches T-Shirt?||dieses / das|
|Plural||Welche Jacken?||diese / die|
Demonstrative Articles in the German Nominative Case
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.
Who does this pen belong to?
Wem gehört dieser Kuli?
|Masculine||Welcher Hut?||dieser / der Hut|
|Feminine||Welche Socke||diese / die Socke|
|Neuter||Welches T-Shirt?||dieses / das T-Shirt|
|Plural||Welche Jacken?||diese / die Jacken|
Adjective Endings in the Nominative Case in German
An adjective is a word that describes the noun. When adjectives are used to describe a particular noun, they take the adjective endings. In English, there are no adjective endings.
The blue pencil is lost.
Der blaue Bleistift ist verloren.
Blau is the adjective in this case which has been given an ending based on the gender of the noun Bleistift (der) which is masculine.
Although adjective endings are not present in English, they are present in many other languages.
It is also present in languages of the Devanagari script such as Hindi and Marathi. We are using the example of the colour black used as an adjective in both the examples below. Observe how the adjective काला in case of the example in Hindi and काळा in case of Marathi are changing depending on the gender of the nouns horse, watch, cap etc.
Example in Hindi:
काला / black
काला घोड़ा / black horse
काली घड़ी / black watch
काले बादल / black clouds
काली कुर्सियां / black chairs
Example in Marathi:
काळा / black
काळा घोडा / black horse
काळी टोपी / black cap
काळे घड्याळ / black watch
काळ्या खुर्च्या / black chairs
Adjective endings is one of the tricky concepts of the German language. Make sure to try and practice with the help of the table below. We have already explained the adjective endings in detail in this post. Do check it out once you finish reading this article.
|Definite Article||Indefinite Article||Without Article|
|Masculine||der nette Mann||ein netter Mann||netter Mann|
|Feminine||die schöne Frau||eine schöne Frau||schöne Frau|
|Neuter||das kleine Kind||ein kleines Kind||kleines Kind|
|Plural||die alten Bücher||– alte Bücher||alte Bücher|
German Verbs which take the Nominative Case
|heißen||to be called|
German Nominative Case Summary
With this, we are at the end of the nominative case in German. That was a lot of information to process! Save this picture to practice everything about the nominative case together!