Relative Pronouns

What are Relative Pronouns?

We use Relative Pronouns to start Relative Clauses.

You have to decline Relative Pronouns.

The Gender (Masculine, Feminine, Neuter) and Number (Singular or Plural) to relate to the corresponding noun.

The case is determined by its position and functions in the Relative Clause.

Example:  „Das ist der Mann, der einen Ferrari hat.“

Relative Pronouns - Forms

Relative Pronouns are declined almost exactly like the corresponding Definite Articles.

In Genitive and Dative plural, we take the Definite Article and add an „en“. Instead of „der“, „die“, or „das“, we can also use „welcher“ as a Relative Pronoun.

How to determine the Relative Pronouns?

Example: „Das ist der Mann, der einen Ferrari hat.“

  1. To which noun does the Relative Pronoun refer to? - Answer: „der Mann“
  2. What is the Gender and Number of the reference word („der Mann“)? - Answer: Masculine and Singular
  3. Which case does the Relative Pronoun have in the Subordinate Clause? - Answer: Nominative
  4. Pronoun = Masculine + Singular + Nominative ⇒ „der

How do we easily determine the case?

Put the reference word into the Relative clause!

  • „Das ist der Mann, der einen Ferrari hat.“
  • „Das ist der Mann. Der Mann hat einen Ferrari.“

The 2nd version doesn't sound good because „der Mann“ is repeated, but it shows which case to use.


The Genus and Numerus remain the same since the reference word remains the same as well.

The case depends on the Relative Clause:

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Relative Pronouns with Prepositions

If there is a Preposition before the to-be-replaced noun in the Relative Clause, the same Preposition must come before the Relative Pronoun. It doesn't matter if there was a Preposition before the noun in the Main clause or not.

  • „Da kommt der Bus. Wir warten schon so lange auf den Bus.“
  • „Da kommt der Bus, auf den wir schon so lange warten.“
  • „Dort ist die Schule. Ich bin früher in diese Schule gegangen.“
  • „Dort ist die Schule, in die ich früher gegangen bin.“

Recommendation: Verbs with Prepositions

Also check out the lesson Verbs with Preposition for more information.


  • We use Relative Pronouns to start Relative Clauses.
  • You have to decline Relative Pronouns.
  • They get the Genus and the Numerus from the reference word.
  • They get the case according to the situation in the Relative clause.

Related Topics:

Relative Pronouns introduce Relative Clauses.

More lessons on Pronouns:

Pronouns have to be declinedTherefore, you must also be familiar with the declension and the German Cases:

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

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