German Nouns, Cases, Articles, Demonstratives

Learn about nouns in German

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German Nouns and Cases

All nouns have a gender in German, either masculine, feminine or neuter.  You must memorize the gender of each noun:

1. Male persons or animals, the seasons, months, and days are all masculine, as are nouns ending in -ant, -ast, -ich, -ig, -ismus, -ling, -or and -us.  

2. Female persons or animals, and numerals are all feminine, as are nouns ending in -a, -anz, -ei, -enz, -heit, -ie, -ik, -in, -keit, -schaft, -sion, -sis, -tät, -tion, -ung and -ur. 

3. Young persons or animals, metals, chemical elements, letters of the alphabet, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, continents, countries and provinces are all neuter, as are nouns that end in -chen, -icht, -il, -it, -lein, -ma, -ment, -tel, -tum, and -um.  Nouns referring to things that end in -al, -an, -ar, -ät, -ent, -ett, -ier, -iv, -o and -on, as well as most words with the prefix ge- and most nouns ending in -nis and -sal are also neuter. 

All nouns in German are capitalized in writing.

All nouns (as well as pronouns and adjectives) have a case depending on what function they serve in the sentence.  These may seem strange, but remember that English uses cases also; however, we would say direct object instead of accusative, or indirect object instead of dative.  Although these cases may make learning new words difficult, they actually help with word order because the position of words in a sentence is not as fixed in German as it is in English.  And the reason for that is because words can occur in these four cases:

Nominative subject of the sentence The girl is reading.
Accusative direct objects We see the mountain.
I bought a gift.
Dative indirect objects We talk to the guide.
I gave my mom a gift.
Genitive indicates possession or relationship The book of the girl.
The dog's tail.

The nouns you look up in a dictionary will be in the nominative case.

German Articles and Demonstratives

Definite Articles (The)
Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nominative der (dare) die (dee) das (dahs) die
Accusative den (dane) die das die
Dative dem (dame) der dem den
Genitive des (dess) der des der

Indefinite Articles (A, An)
Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nom. ein (ine) eine (ine-uh) ein
Acc. einen (ine-en) eine ein
Dat. einem (ine-em) einer(ine-er) einem
Gen. eines (ine-es) einer eines

Demonstratives (This, That, These, Those)
This / These That / Those
Masc. Fem. Neu. Pl. Masc. Fem. Neu. Pl.
Nom. dieser diese dieses diese der die das die
Acc. diesen diese dieses diese den die das die
Dat. diesem dieser diesem diesen dem der dem den
Gen. dieses dieser dieses dieser des der des der

Jener is an older word  found in written German that was used to mean that or those, but today in spoken German the definite articles are used.  Dort or da may accompany the definite articles for emphasis.  Das is also a universal demonstrative and therefore shows no agreement.  Notice the last letter of each of the words above.  They correspond to the last letters of the words for the definite articles.  Words that are formed this same way are called der-words because they follow the pattern of the der-die-das declension.  Other der-words are:  jeder-every, and welcher-which.  Mancher (many) and solcher (such) are also der-words, but they are used almost always in the plural.

 


 

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