The Genitive Case

What is the Genitive Case?

  • The Genitive case shows belongings or possession.
  • It is one of four German cases (Kasus) and is also called 2nd case.
  • It is used in Noun-Noun Constructions.
  • We also use the Genitive after certain Verbs, Prepositions and Adjectives.
  • The question for Genitive case is „Wessen?“

Examples

  • „Das Pferd des Reiters ist weiß.“

⇒ Wessen Pferd ist weiß? – Des Reiters!

⇒ Noun – Noun Constructions ⇒ Genitive

  • „Während des Spiels verletzt er sich.“

The Prepositions „während“ requires the Genitive ⇒ des Spiels

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Genitive - Declension

We have to change all Articles according to the case. 

Special Characteristics

Nouns that are either Masculine and Neuter require the ending „s“ or „es“.

Nouns that end in -s, -ß, -x, -z ("-es" MUST be used)


    • „der Platz“ – „des Platzes

Monosyllabic Nouns: (Just an „s“ is ok, but „-es“ usually sounds better)

  • „der Mann“ – „des Mann(e)s

For all other nouns: just „-s“

End on s, ß, x, z (you MUST  use „es“)

  • „der Ventilator“ - „der Ventilators

Use of the Genitive Case

Use: To Indicate Belonging or Possession

We show belonging or possession with the help of Noun-Noun Constructions.

Special Characteristics: Noun-Noun-Constructions with Proper Nouns

Because there is no Article, we have to signal the Genitive differently:

  • Holgers Pferd ist weiß.“

The Proper noun goes to the front and requires the ending „-s“.

If the proper noun ends with s, ß, x or z an Apostrophe is needed:

  • Hans´ Pferd ist weiß.“

Interesting Fact:

You can avoid using the Genitive case in Noun-Noun constructions by adding the Prepositions „von“ between the noun and putting the second verb in the Dative case.

  • „Das Pferd des Reiters ist weiß.“ = „Das Pferd von dem Reiter ist weiß.“

Use: After Prepositions

  • „Wegen der Krankheit kann er nicht arbeiten.“

The Preposition „wegen“ requires the use of the Genitive case.

The most important Genitive Prepositions are:

„Während“, „wegen“, „trotz“, „innerhalb“, „außerhalb“, „oberhalb“, „unterhalb“, „aufgrund“, „anstelle“, „(an)statt“

Remember:

If there is a Preposition before the Noun, all other rules do not matter.

The rule of the respective Preposition ALWAYS applies.

It doesn't matter if it's a Direct or Indirect Object or which case the Verb wants to use.

The Preposition tells you which case to use! ALWAYS!

Use: After certain Verbs

Something, Someone: gedenken, bedürfen, Herr werden

  • „Wir gedenken der Toten.“
  • „Wir bedürfen der Hilfe.“
  • „Wir werden der Situation Herr.“

To someone, something: anklagen, bezichtigen, überführen, beschuldigen, verdächtigen

  • „Man klagt ihn der Korruption an.“
  • „Man verdächtigt ihn des Verbrechens.“
  • „Man beschuldigt ihn des Verrats.“

Commit to one thing: brüsten, erinnern, erfreuen, enthalten, schämen

  • „Ich erinnere mich der alten Zeiten.“
  • „Ich schäme mich meiner schlechten Aussprache.“
  • „Ich erfreue mich des Lebens!“

Recommendation: Verbs with Genitive

More about this under Verbs with Genitive Complements.

Use: With certain Adjectives

  • Aware (Bewusst): „Ich bin mir meines Fehlers bewusst.“
  • Capable (Fähig): „Du bist des Mordes nicht fähig.“
  • Certain (Gewiss): „Sie ist sich des Erfolges gewiss.“
  • Secure (Sicher): „Du kannst dir meiner Unterstützung sicher sein!“

Also: „überdrüssig“, „verdächtig“, „würdig“, „bedürftig“

The Adjectives always comes after the noun and remains in its basic form!

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Good News for all Students

If you are now thinking: How can I learn all this stuff? Adjective, Verbs, ... Don't worry! The Genitive case isn't used very often anymore.

You can often avoid the use of the Genitive (and therefore having to know the Genitive rules) by using Prepositions instead.

  • „Ich erinnere mich der alten Zeiten„Ich erinnere mich an die alten Zeiten.“

We can use the Preposition „an“ to outsmart the Genitive case. The noun then follows the Preposition in the Accusative case. So the case always depends on which word (here, the Preposition) comes before the noun.

You can also avoid the Noun-noun constructions by using the Preposition „von“.

  • „Das Pferd des Reiters ist weiß.“ „Das Pferd von dem Reiter ist weiß.“

Interesting Fact:

But be careful: In Noun-Noun-Constructions, the Genitive is still used since the sentence sounds better when using the Genitive case. But both are grammatically correct!

Exercises for Genitive case

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Related Topics:

Detailed explanations of the other German Cases:

The following things need to be adjusted (declined) based on the case:

The following things affect the case:

You can find an overview of all topics under German Grammar. 

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