The German Nominative Case

German Cases

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What is the German Nominative Case? (Nominativ)

  • The Nominative Case (Nominativ) is the Basic form of the Noun and describes the Subject of the sentence (the Person or Thing that is acting or being talked about).
  • It is one of the four German cases (Kasus) and it is also called 1st case.
  • The Subject tells you how to conjugate the Verb.
  • The question for the Nominative case is „Wer?“ or „Was?“ 
  • We use the Nominative case also after the Verbs: „sein“, „werden“ and „bleiben“. (Warning: In this case, it is NOT the subject!)


  • Das Pferd ist weiß."
  • Der Mann schenkt der Frau die Blumen. "
  • „Den Ball hat der Junge zum Geburtstag bekommen.

Nominative - Declension

You have to adapt the Articles to the case of the noun:

German nominative case declension

Use of Nominative Case

Use: Subject:

  • Das Pferd ist weiß.“
  • Der Mann schenkt der Frau die Blumen.“
  • „Den Ball hat der Junge zum Geburtstag bekommen.“

The Subject is always in the Nominative case! NO EXCEPTIONS!!

Interesting Fact:

The Subject is the Person/Thing that performs the action or the person/thing we are talking about. It tells you how to conjugate the verb.

Use: Subject Complements:

The verbs sein, werden and bleiben use a subject complement. That means we have to use the nominative even though the noun is not the subject.

  • „Du bist ein guter Schüler.“
  • „Er ist der Beste!“
  • „Du willst einmal ein Lehrer werden.“

Interesting Fact:

The Subject Complement is not the Subject, but it assigns a characteristic of the subject and is therefore in the Nominative case as well.

You have to pay special attention to this in the Subject Complements:

It is only a Subject Complements if „werden“ and „sein“ are the Main verb of the sentence.

  • „Er ist der Beste.“

⇒ Sein („ist“) is the Main verb.

  • „Er ist zu dem Mann gegangen.“

⇒ Sein („ist“) is the Auxiliary verb here to form the Perfect. ⇒ No Predicative/Nominative

Interesting Fact: Where do you find the Subject?

The Subject is very often at the beginning of the sentence, but it can also be in the middle of the sentence.

  • Der Junge hat den Ball zum Geburtstag bekommen“
  • „Den Ball hat der Junge zum Geburtstag bekommen“

The Subject is usually in the First position. However, if there is something more important in the sentence than the Person/Thing performing the action, it can also be placed after the Conjugated Verb. (See: Sentence Structure)


  • The Nominative case describes the Subject of the sentence.
  • It is the Basic form.
  • We can ask for it with a question words „Wer?“ or „Was?“


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Related Topics:

Entire lesson in German only: Nominativ

Detailed explanations of the individual German cases:

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

  • Deklination von Artikeln (Declension of Articles)
  • Deklination von Pronomen (Declension of Pronouns)
  • Adjektivdeklination (Adjective Declension)
  • N-Deklination (N-Declension)

The following things affect the case:

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

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