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Noun cases in German

The nominative case

The cases | Definite articles | der-words | Indefinite articles | Possessive adjectives
Summary of the cases | Nominative case | Accusative case | Dative case | Genitive case | GRAMMAR INDEX

A noun or pronoun is in the nominative case when is carries out one of two primary functions in a sentence.

1) Subject

The subject of the sentence is the person, thing, idea or entity doing the action or carrying out the meaning of the verb. It answers the question: Who or what is doing <insert the meaning of the verb here>?
Das Auto fährt sehr schnell. 
The car is driving very quickly.
"The car" is doing the action of driving and is therefore the subject.
Meine Mutter schreibt schön. 
My mother writes beautifully.
"My mother" is doing the action of writing and is therefore the subject.
Du hast schicke Schuhe. 
You have chic shoes.
"You" is the doing the "having" and is therefore the subject.

2) Predicate noun

A predicate noun or predicate nominative is a noun that restates the subject. A predicate noun can occur only with the verbs sein, heißen, werden, and occasionally bleiben.
Ich werde Lehrer. 
I am becoming a teacher.
"I" and "teacher" refer to the same person. "I" is the subject, "teacher" the predicate nom.
Mein Bruder heißt Karl. 
My brother's name is Karl.
The subject "my brother" and the predicate nominative "Karl" are the very same person.
Das Geschenk ist ein Buch.
The gift is a book.
The subject "the gift" and the predicate nominative "the book" are the very same thing.
To test for a predicate noun, try replacing the verb in the sentence with an equal sign (=). If the equation remains true -- namely, if the subject and the verbal complement are two ways of referring to the very same thing -- then you have found a predicate noun.

Nouns and pronouns in the NOMINATIVE CASE

Note that the simplest sentence that can be formed consists of a subject and a verb (e.g., Er geht. or Das Kind schläft.) Because every sentence has a subject, every sentence will have at least one noun or pronoun in the nominative case.
Nouns Personal Pronouns
masculine feminine neuter plural
der Onkel
dieser Onkel
ein Onkel
kein Onkel
unser Onkel
die Tante
diese Tante
eine Tante
keine Tante
unsere Tante
das Buch
dieses Buch
ein Buch
kein Buch
unser Buch
die Kinder
diese Kinder
keine Kinder
unsere Kinder
er, sie, es
Sie, sie

The cases | Definite articles | Indefinite articles | Possessive adjectives
Summary of the cases | Nominative case | Accusative case | Dative case | Genitive case

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