English also has cases, but they are only apparent with pronouns, not with nouns, as in German. When he changes to him in English, that's exactly the same thing that happens when der changes to den in German (and er changes to ihn). This allows German to have more flexibility in word order, as in the examples below.
Since English does not have the same case markers (der,den), it must depend on word order. If you say
man bites dog in English, rather than
dog bites man, you change the meaning. In German the word order can be changed for emphasis (as above) — without altering the basic meaning.
The nominative case - in German and in English - is the subject of a sentence. The term nominative is from Latin and means
to name (think of
The following list shows how the nominative forms are used in various situations.
The dative case is a vital element of communicating in German. In English, the dative case is known as the indirect object. Unlike the accusative, which only changes in the masculine gender, the dative changes in all genders and in the plural. The pronouns also change accordingly.
In addition to its function as the indirect object, the dative is also used after certain dative verbs and with dative prepositions. In the examples below, the dative word or expression is underlined:
The indirect object (dative) is usually the receiver of the direct object (accusative). In the first example above, the driver got the ticket. Often the dative can be translated with
to - the policeman gives the ticket to the driver. The following list shows how the dative forms are used in various situations.
Some masculine nouns add an -en or -n ending in the dative and in all other cases besides the nominative.
In the dative, plural nouns add an -en or -n if the plural does not already end in -n, except for plurals ending in -s.
Notice that the endings shown here in the accusative (direct object) case are identical to those in the nominative (subject) case / with the sole exception of the masculine gender (der/den). The masculine gender is the only one that looks any different when the case changes from nominative (der) to accusative (den).
In the sentence Der blaue Wagen ist neu, the subject is der Wagen and der Wagen is nominative. But if we say Ich kaufe den blauen Wagen. (I'm buying the blue car.), then der Wagen changes to den Wagen as the accusative object. In the accusative case with the definite article (the/den, die, das) the adjective ending is always -en for the masculine (den) form. But it remains -e for die or das. So we would get
When the adjective is used with an ein-word (einen, dein, keine, etc.), the accusative adjective ending must reflect the gender and case of the noun that follows.
The adjective endings -en, -e, and -es correspond to the articles den, die and das respectively (masculine, feminine, and neuter). Once you notice the parallel and the agreement of the letters n, e, s with den, die, das, it makes the process a little clearer.
The genitive case in German shows possession and is expressed in English by the possessive of or an apostrophe-s ('s). The genitive case is also used with some verb idioms and with the genitive prepositions.
The genitive is used more in written German than in spoken form. In spoken, everyday German, von plus the dative often replaces the genitive: Das Auto von meinem Bruder (My brother's car.)
You can tell that a noun is in the genitive case by the article, which changes to des/eines (masculine and neuter) or der/einer (feminine and plural). Since the genitive only has two forms (des or der), you only need to learn those two. However, in the masculine and neuter, there is also an additional noun ending, either -es or -s:
Feminine and plural nouns do not add an ending in the genitive. The feminine genitive (der/einer) is identical to the feminine dative. The one-word genitive article usually translates as two words (of the / of a/an) in English.
When showing possession with the names of people, countries or cities, German adds an
s (without an apostrophe):
The genitive is used in some common expressions.