Wednesday, September 28, 2011

German Cases Short and Sweet

I am constantly frustrated with how many grammar websites out there there make German cases more complex than they need to be. Well actually... they are complex, but you still need launching pad in which to learn the complex stuff. A few months ago, when I was frustrated with wrapping my head the cases, I made a post about them. To reiterate myself; one of the hardest parts of the German language for English speakers to grasp is the cases, simply because they don't exist in English. Yes, the word whom is an example of case in English, but the last person to have ever used the word whom was thrown off of a gorge for being a douchebag by people who thought they liked him.

Unfortunately you still have to memorize this chart:
Chart originally from About.com .

Here are the German cases short and sweet, I promise not to use any words more technical than verb, or noun. If you're as dumb as me, you should be ok. PLEASE NOTE: I am only covering the basic concepts of cases. If you have no idea whats going on in you German class, this will help, but not teach you everything you need to know. (For example, a genitive case for German pronouns exists, and is not covered here).

Nominative: Used for basic sentences.
I like cats.
Ich mag Katzen.

The noun that is doing something is in the nominative case. I like cats, I is nominative.

Accusative: Used when you have two nouns and one is acting upon the other.

Bill loves the King
Bill Liebt den König. 

The noun that is on the receiving end of the verb is in the accusative case. The king is on the receiving end of Bill's love, so it is accusative. That means in German, the word transforms from Der König (masculine) to Den König. If you still have not figured this out, I suggest scrolling back up to the top, and staring at the chart.

Dative: In terms of this post, the best way to describe this case is that you have a giver (nominative), a receiver (dative), and something that is being given (accusative). For example:

Bill gave the king a gift.
Bill gab dem König ein Geschenk.

This time "the king" is in the dative case, and "the gift" is in accusative. If we look at the chart above we see that the indefinite article (a or an) for a word that is neuter and accusative, is ein.

Genitive: Denotes possession. Here is an example from the Wikipedia page on genitive case:
 
The book of the schoolgirl.
Das Heft der Schülerin.


You can also use -s to denote possession (without the apostrophe). Pretty simple compared to the other cases, huh?
 
Hopefully if you have been having trouble with learning the cases in German, this will help. Leave me a comment, and let me know if this was helpful.

 
 
 

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for explaining this in a simple way :)

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  2. Oh, this is brilliant, thanks. Always lost me.

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  3. This is really brilliant clarification!

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