What are cases?

What are cases?

A case refers to the role a noun or a pronoun plays in a particular sentence or clause. There are four main functions and each one can be linked to a specific case in German: Changes caused by the case system The various functions and therefore the cases of nouns are usually signalled by the endings of articles and other determiners. When, for instance, a masculine noun is the subject in a sentenc... »

The nominative case

As mentioned before, the most important role of the nominative case is to indicate the subject in a sentence. The subject directs the action and can be a person, thing or idea, either in the singular or in the plural: Der Junge spielt heute allein. The boy is playing alone today. Die Zeiten sind hart. These are hard times. A good way of identifying the subject is to ask: Who or what is doing the a... »

The accusative case

The accusative case in German marks the direct object in a sentence. The direct object is the person or thing on the receiving end of the action: Sie füttert das Baby. She feeds the baby. Helga wäscht den Wagen. Helga washes the car. In order to identify the direct object, you could ask the question: → The baby. The accusative after most verbs Most verbs in German are used with a direct accusative... »

The dative case

In addition to a direct object, many verbs in German can take a further object, the indirect object. The indirect object of a sentence is always in the dative case: Wir kauften dem Kind einen großen Luftballon. We bought the child a big balloon. Er macht der Frau einen Vorschlag. He puts a preposition to the woman. To who/m or what is the action being done? → The child Note that the indirect objec... »

The genitive case

The genitive case refers to the idea of possession or belonging, corresponding to the English apostrophe s (’s) ending or the preposition of: Das Auto meines Vaters steht dort drüben. My father’s car is over there. Wir beginnen mit dem schwierigsten Teil der Übersetzung. We begin with the most difficult part of the translation. A useful way of recognising the genitive in a sentence is to ask : Who... »