Foreign Service Institute German Basic Course

Unit 4: Part 2

Notes on Grammar (not recorded)

A. ein-Type Specifiers: ein, kein, mein, sein, ihr, Ihr, unser

I. Forms

1. With der-nouns

Hier ist mein Pass.
Ich habe meinen Tabak hier.
Ich fahre mit meinem Wagen.
Here's my passport.
I have my tobacco here.
I'm going in my car.


With das-nouns

Das ist mein Hotel.
Haben Sie mein Gepäck?
Er wohnt in meinem Hotel.
That's my hotel.
Do you nave my luggage?
He lives at my hotel.


With die-nouns

Meine Heimatstadt ist Berlin.
Sie kennt meine Frau.
Sie kommen aus meiner Heimatstadt.
My home town is Berlin.
She knows my wife.
They come from my horne town.


With plural nouns

Meine Eltern kommen aus New York.
Ich habe meine Zigaretten hier.
Er wohnt in der Nähe von meinen Eltern.
My parents come from New York.
I have my cigarettes here.
He lives near my parents.


2. By abstracting the underscored forms of the word from the German sentences above we can set up the following table:


  before der-nouns before das-nouns before die-nouns before plural nouns
Nominative mein mein meine meine
Accusative meinen meinen meine meine
Dative meinem meinem meiner meinen (-n)


3. The ein-type specifiers include the words 'a, an, one' and its negative converse kein 'not a, not an, not any, not one, no' as weIl as the possessive words mein 'my', sein 'his', ihr 'her,their', Ihr 'your' (the capital is a convention of the writing system), and unser 'our'. Two other possessive words will be introduced in Unit 11.

Haben Sie einen Ausweis?
Gibt es hier in der Nähe ein Zigarrengeschäft?
Ihr Antrag wird dann gleich bearbeitet.
Unsere Adresse ist Schillerstrasse 4.
Herr Allen stellt seinem Kollegen Bill Jones Herrn Meyer vor.
Meine Frau hat ihren Pass noch nicht.
Do you have an identification card?
Is there a cigar store near here?
Your application will then be processed right away.
Our address is 4 Schiller Street.
Mr. Allen introduces Mr. Meyer to his colleague Bill Jones.
My wife doesn't have her passport yet.


4. Remember that ein occurs only in the singular, but all other ein-type specifiers have a complete set of forms.

  with der-nouns with das-nouns with die-nouns with plural nouns
Nominative ein ein eine -
Accusative einen ein eine -
Dative einem einem einer -
Nominative kein kein keine keine
Accusative keinen kein keine keine
Dative keinem keinem keiner keinen (-n)
Nominative sein sein seine seine
Accusative seinen sein seine seine
Dative seinem seinem seiner seinen (-n)
Nominative ihr ihr ihre ihre
Accusative ihren ihr ihre ihre
Dative ihrem ihrem ihrer ihren (-n)
Nominative unser unser unsere unsere
Accusative unseren unser unsere unsere
Dative unserem unserem unserer unseren (-n)

5. Compare the bold forms in the following pairs of sentences:

Ich kenne diesen Mann.
Ich kenne ihren Mann.
Wohnt er in diesem Hotel?
Wohnt er in meinem Hotel?
Welche Bank ist das?
Unsere Bank ist neben dem Konsulat.
I know this man.
I know her husband.
Does he live in this hotel?
Does he live in my hotel?
Which bank is tllat?
Our bank is next to the consulate.


In Units 1 and 3 we mentioned the correspondence of final sounds in der-type specifiers and the various forms of the pronouns er, es and sie. In the above sentences we see the pattern continued with the ein-type specifiers. In most cases the similarity can be traced through both types of specifiers and the pronouns: keinen-diesen-ihn-den, ihrem-welchem-ihm-dem, unsere-diese-welche, for instance.

6. Compare the bold forms in the following sentences:

Dieser Autobus fährt nach Schwäbing.
Heute fährt kein Autobus nach Schwäbing.
Unser Autobus fährt nach Schwäbing.
Das ist das Hotel.
Ist das Ihr Hotel?
Nein, das ist mein Hotel.
Ich möchte heute das Visum beantragen.
Ich möchte heute mein Visum beantragen.
Möchte sie heute ihr Visum beantragen?
This bus goes to Schwabing.
There's no bus going to Schwabing today.
Our bus goes to Schwabing.
That's the hotel.
Is that your hotel?
No, that's my hotel.
I'd like to apply for the visa today.
I'd like to apply for my visa today.
Would she like to apply for her visa today?

Note that there is no consistent similarity of final sounds in the underlined forms above. The patterns observed in paragraph 5 do not show up in dieser-kein-unser and das-mein-Ihr. There is then a form of the ein-type specifiers in which the final sound, or ending, found in the der-type specifiers and personal pronouns is lacking. This endingless form occurs as the Nominative form with der-nouns and as the Nominative and Accusative form with das-nouns. The pattern for ein-type specifiers can be summed up in the following pattern chart:

Pattern Chart 2

Nominative - - E E
Accusative N N E E
Dative M M R N (-n)


II. Uses
We have already noted that the ein-type specifiers include ein and kein and the possessives.

1. ein means 'a, an' when unstressed. With slightly increased stress it means 'one'.

Er füllt ein Formular aus.
Füllen Sie nur ein Formular aus.
Muss man ein oder zwei Formulare ausfüllen?
He's filling out a form.
Just fill out one form.
Does one have to fill out one or two forms?

2. kein means 'not a, not an, not any, not one, no'. In English we have an option in many negative statements:

I don't have an identification card. (Negation of verb)
I haven't any identification card. (Negation of verb)
I have no identification card. (Negation of noun)

In German there is no equivalent option. In such statements the noun is always negated.

Ich habe keinen Ausweis.
Er ist kein Deutscher.
Haben Sie kein Visum?
Wir kennen hier keine Amerikaner.
I haven't any identification card.
He isn't German. / He' s no German.
Don't you have a visa? / Have you no visa?
We don't know any Americans here. / We know no Americans here.

3. Any of the ein-type specifiers - like the der-type specifiers (noted in Unit 3) - can also occur without a following noun, and here they have the meanings 'one, not one, not any, mine, his, hers, theirs, yours, ours' .

Ich habe Zigarren.
Darf ich Ihnen eine anbieten?
Haben Sie Ihren Wagen hier?
Nein, haben Sie Ihren auch nicht hier?
I have some cigars.
May I offer you one?
Do you have your car here?
No, don't you have yours here either?

III. Special ein-type specifier forms

1. MOST ein-type specifiers have the same form when their noun is understood as they do when it is present, as can be seen in the sentences above. Note the following examples, however:

Gibt es hier in der Nähe ein Zigarrengeschäft?
Hier nebenan ist eins.
Ist das Ihr Stadtplan oder meiner?
Das ist Ihrer.
Is there a cigar store near here?
There's one next door here.
Is that your map of the city or mine?
That's yours.

The endingless ein-type specifier forms add an ending when they stand alone: Ihr Stadtplan - Ihrer; ein Zigarrengeschäft - eins. You will note that the endings added are those of the corresponding der-type specifier forms, except that the ending -s is added directly to the stern of the monosyllabic ein-type specifiers: kein-s, for instance, as compared with unser-es, dies-es and welch-es.

2. These special ein-type specifier forms occur only with der- and das-nouns and can be listed as folIows:

With der-nouns einer keiner meiner seiner ihrer Ihrer unserer
With das-nouns eins keins meins seins ihrs Ihrs unserers

B. Verb Phrases and Word Order

I. We have already spoken about verb phrases which are composed of a FINITE verb form and an INFINITIVE form. They have also occurred in this unit:

Herr Köhler will ein Besuchsvisum nach Amerika beantragen. Mr. Köhler wants to apply for a visitor's visa for America.

Now look at the following examples:

Herr Allen stellt die Herren vor.
Füllen Sie bitte dieses Formular aus.
Ich muss Geld abheben.
Herr Köhler hebt gerade Geld von der Bank ab.
Mr. Allen introduces the gentlemen to each other.
Please fill out this form.
I have to get some money.
Mr. Köhler is just getting some money from the bank.

In these sentences another kind of verb phrase occurs of a FINITE verb (stellt, füllen, hebt) and an ACCENTED ADVERB (vor, aus, ab). In one of the above sentences we have a three-part verb phrase consisting of a FINITE verb (muss), ACCENTED ADVERB (ab-), and INFINITIVE (-heben). Notice that in the writing system, the accented adverb and the infinitive are written as one unit (abheben).

II. You will have seen that in the above sentences, as in earlier examples, the second part of the verb phrase comes at the end of the sentence. We can now summarize our obseryations about word order in verb phrases up to this point in the following patterns:

1. FINITE VERB - INFINITIVE: will ••• beantragen

C. The words gern, lieber, am liebsten

I. We have encountered the word gern several times now. It occurs by itself, with an inflected verb form, and as apart of the verb phrase with möchte (n). Let us examine these occurrences more closely.

1. By itself gern signifies polite and willing acquiescence in a suggestion, command or question.

Wollen Sie nicht mitkommen?
Sehr gern.
Können Sie mir seine Adresse geben?
Wollen wir heute zusammen in die Stadt fahren?
Können wir diesen Stadtplan behalten?
Aber gerne.
Don't you want to come along?
l'd be very glad to.
Can you give me his address?
Shall we go down town today?
Glad to.
Can we keep this map of the city?
Yes, indeed.


Note that in these examples the alternate form gerne frequently occurs, varying freely with gern.

2. With an inflected verb form gern signifies pleasure in or enjoyment of the action or state expressed.

Ich bin sehr gern hier.
Wein trinke ich nicht gern.
Da komme ich gern.
Gehen Sie gern ins Kino?
Er trinkt gern Bier.
I' m very glad to be here.
I don't like to drink wine.
l'd be glad to come then.
Do you enjoy going to the movies?
He likes (to drink) beer

As well as expressing acquiescence in a specific suggestion, command or question this is the usual way to say you like doing something in German, describing general attitudes or habits.

3. The verb phrase with möchte(n) expresses a polite request or question. The word gern may or may not occur with it.

Ich möchte gern Zigarren haben.
Was möchten Sie essen?
Vorher möchte ich noch zur Bank gehen.
Ich möchte ein Visum haben.
Möchten Sie gern ins Kino gehen?
l'd like to have some cigars.
What would you like to eat?
First l'd like to go to the bank.
I want to get a visa.
Would you like to go to the movies?

Note that this is everywhere equivalent to the English courtesy formula "would like", and the request expressed is limited and specific.

II. The words lieber and am liebsten do not occur alone but only with an inflected verb form or as part of the verb phrase with möchte(n).

1. With an inflected verb form lieber and am liebsten express preference or increasing degrees of pleasure or enjoyment.

Ich trinke lieber Würzburger als Pilsner.
Am liebsten trinke ich ja Löwenbräu.
Er raucht lieber Zigarren als Pfeife.
Ich gehe am liebsten ins Theater.
I like Würzburger better than Pilsner.
I like Löwenbräu best of course.
He likes cigars better than a pipe.
I enjoy going to the theater best of all.


2. As part of the verb phrase with möchte(n) the words lieber and am liebsten express preference or intensification in a specific request or question.

Ich möchte lieber Zigarren haben.
Was möchten Sie am liebsten essen?
Möchten Sie lieber Wein oder Bier trinken?
Er möchte am liebsten nach Deutschland fahren.
l'd rather have some cigars.
What would you most like to eat?
Would you rather have wine or beer to drink?
He'd like nothing better than to go to Germany.

← Back to Part 1 or Go on to Part 3 →

Buy language tutorials

If you enjoy the tutorials, then please consider buying French, Informal French, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, or Dutch Language Tutorials as a PDF e-book with free mp3s and free lifetime updates.

Buy French Tutorial

Buy Informal French

Both French e-books

Buy Italian Tutorial

Buy Spanish Tutorial

Buy German Tutorial

Buy Swedish Tutorial

Buy Dutch Tutorial

Please consider sending a donation of any amount to help support Thank you!


Return to top of page

Learn languages with videos and subtitles at FluentU

FluentU offers authentic videos in French, Spanish, German, English, Chinese and Japanese. Learn from captions and translations and enjoy access to ALL languages!

Learn languages with videos and subtitles at Yabla

Learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and English with authentic videos by Yabla that include subtitles and translations.

Learn languages by reading Interlinear Books

Learn to read languages with interlinear bilingual books that include the original language and an English translation below in a smaller font.

Udemy Language Learning Courses

Hundreds of free and paid online language learning video courses at Udemy. By native speakers and experts, from Arabic to Zulu.