Case endings have mutated
extensively over time under a
variety of influences -- so much
so that case endings in the
dialects of German spoken 1000
years ago scarcely resemble
those in the case system of
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Noun cases in German
The genitive caseThe cases | Definite articles | der-words | Indefinite articles | Possessive adjectives
Summary of the cases | Nominative case | Accusative case | Dative case | Genitive case | GRAMMAR INDEX
The genitive case has four functions. It is widely rumored that the genitive case is falling out of usage in German. This statement only applies conditionally to certain functions of the genitive; these will be noted below.
1) Possession & relationshipsThe genitive case indicates that noun belongs to or bears some kind of relationship with someone or something. The genitive is rendered in English as a possessive with an 's or with the preposition of.
EXAMPLES:Note that the genitive construction typically follows the noun that it modifies (like the English construction using of). An exception to this is the use of proper names in the genitive, which simply add an -s or, if the name already ends in -s, an apostrophe.
Susans Kusine kommt zu Besuch.In colloquial German, genitives denoting possession and relationships are sometimes replaced by von + the dative:
Die Farbe von meinen Augen ist blau.In formal standard German, however, the genitive of possession and relationships occurs frequently.
2) Object of a genitive prepositionThe object of an accusative preposition takes the genitive case in formal standard German. These are some of the more common genitive prepositions:
In colloquial German, some of these prepositions -- wegen, während, trotz, laut -- are frequently used with the dative, although this is generally regarded as incorrect in standard formal written German. Note, however, that the genitive and dative forms of feminine nouns are identical.
For more information on prepositions, see the German prepositions page.
3) Object of a genitive verb or genitive constructionA number of verbs, adjectives, and idiomatic expressions require a genitive object in German. There used to be many more such genitive expressions in German (as in English to avail oneself of, to take note of), but these have become replaced over time with other verbs and prepositional phrases. In general, the genitive verbs that are still used convey a highly educated tone.
EXAMPLES OF USAGE:In addition to the genitive verbs, a number of adjectives and other idiomatic phrases are used with genitive objects. Here are some of them:
Notice that the genitive objects that accompany these adjectives are often rendered in English with an accompanying "of". There is no need to add an additional preposition to the German sentence, since these meanings are included when the noun or pronoun is declined in the genitive case.
EXAMPLES OF USAGE:
4) Expressions of indefinite timeExpressions of non-specific time that are (1) not adverbs (e.g., irgendwann, manchmal) and (2) not governed by a preposition (e.g., seit einer Ewigkeit) take the genitive case.
Nouns in the GENITIVE CASEFinally, here are some examples of nouns in the genitive case. Genitive pronouns are used infrequently and only in elevated speech. Words and endings in red indicate a change in form from the dative.
Summary of the cases | Nominative case | Accusative case | Dative case | Genitive case
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