How the German Cases work – Nominative, Accusative, Dative and Genitive

The German Cases

Right, let’s get stuck into the heart of the German language, the cases. There are four cases in the German language: nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. The cases are an important part of German grammar as they are responsible for the endings of adjectives, indefinite articles and when to use which personal pronoun. Let’s have a closer look below. Learn and enjoy the German language with Jabbalab! 🙂


The Nominative Case

Masculine Feminine Neutral
Definite Article der Mann die Frau das Haus
Indefinite Article ein Mann eine Frau ein Haus

The nominative case is used for a person, animal or thing which is doing the action. In this case, you will be able to ask: Who/What did or is something? The nominative case is always used after the verbs sein and werden.

Example sentences:

Der Mann schläft. ⇨ Who sleeps?

Die Frau kocht. ⇨ Who cooks?

Es ist ein schönes Haus. ⇨ What is beautiful?


The Accusative Case

Masculine Feminine Neutral
Definite Article den Mann die Frau das Haus
Indefinite Article einen Mann eine Frau ein Haus

The accusative case is used for a person, animal or thing which is directly affected by the action of the verb. The accusative is also used after certain prepositions.

Example sentences:

Ich sehe den Mann. ⇨ What do I see?

Wir haben die Torte gegessen. ⇨ What have we eaten?

Er hat ein Foto gemacht. ⇨ What has he made?

You can see that the noun in the sentence here is always directly affected by the verb.


The Dative Case

Masculine Feminine Neutral
Definite Article dem Mann der Frau dem Haus
Indefinite Article einem Mann einer Frau einem Haus

The dative case is used to show the indirect object of a verb. An indirect object is a person, animal or a thing the action is intended to benefit or harm. You are able to ask: Who to/for or to/for what? In most situations you can also ask whom. The dative case is also used after certain prepositions.

Example sentences:

Ich gab der Frau einen Apfel. ⇨ Who did I give an Apple to?

Er hilft dem Mann beim Putzen. ⇨ Whom did he help to clean?

Er gibt einem Mädchen einen Kuss. ⇨ Who did he give a kiss to?


The Genitive Case

Masculine Feminine Neutral
Definite Article des Mannes der Frau des Hauses
Indefinite Article eines Mannes einer Frau eines Hauses
des Lehrers des Mädchens
eines Lehrers eines Mädchens

The genitive case is used to show, that something belongs to someone. You’re able to ask: Whose…? The genitive case is also used after certain prepositions.


s is added to masculine and neuter nouns ending in: en, el or er.

e.g. der Lehrer → des Lehrers

e.g. der Geldbeutel → des Geldbeutels

e.g. das Eisen → des Eisens

es is added to the most masculine and neuter nouns of one syllable ending in a consonant.

e.g. der Mann → des Mannes

e.g. das Pferd → des Pferdes

Example sentences:

Das Haus der Frau ist blau. ⇨ Whose house is blue?

Das Auto des Mannes ist schwarz. ⇨ Whose car is black?

Das Hufeisen des Pferdes ist kaputt. ⇨ Whose horseshoe is broken?

Die Farbe des Geldbeutels ist braun. ⇨ Whose colour is brown?

Das Auto des Lehrers ist grün. ⇨ Whose car is green?

Die Tasche des Mädchens ist gelb. ⇨ Whose bag is yellow?

Das ist die Telefonnummer einer Freundin. ⇨ Whose telephone number is that?

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  • Hi Michelle. We have added a few more examples and example sentences. Hope this helps. 🙂

  • Mazhar

    Beautiful. You have made it simple. Thanks.

  • Amy

    Very useful and easy to internalize.

  • Bokkie

    The explanation is very good, thank you. My English is bad and I don’t know why I want to learn German, I just love the language and find the nouns very easy to remember it’s just to make the sentence then… ok to write, but to speak – and they are so quick.

  • Byun Ryeoni

    Thank you very much to have posted this.. Thank you.. Vielen dank..

  • tom

    very good many thanks

  • mohamed

    Very good I like to to learn here in deutsch

  • Siddh Rawal

    Great, very clear, easy to understand, had no idea of cases and this completely cleared any misunderstanding. Many Thanks

  • dario

    Finally a clear explanation! It would be nice too have the plural too.

  • Pokkuru

    Heartily appreciated explanation!

  • Suriel Van Vehr

    please note that for the Accusative case the question can be ‘whom’ as well.
    Ich sehe Eric (I see Eric). – Whom do I see?

  • Suriel Van Vehr

    me again..
    to show you how tricky the distinction between dative and accusative is, I will turn one given example from dative into accusative:
    “Er gibt dem Mädchen einen Kuss.” (he gives the girl a kiss) = dative (girl)
    “Er küsst das mädchen” (he kisses the girl) = accusative (girl)
    by the way: in the first sentence “a kiss” is the accusative

  • Abdiyu

    vielen Dank

  • gobind narayan bhardwaj

    u have such a great power of explanation…. vielen dank

  • Baquer Obeid

    Thank YOU!

  • mihrteab Goitom

    Hi ich sage dankschöne

  • Popoola Oluwaseun

    After reading ein paar blog posts on German cases, I couldn’t understand shit about the usage. But this is really an eye opener on when to use the cases. I always wonder why Die Monate des Jahres is “The Month of the year” aber jetzt ich warum wissen. Vielen Dank.

  • Vishwavardhan Damaraju

    Sehr schön

  • jacob preßen


  • Roshni Maharaj

    Yes much easier to understand, love the explanation

  • cxxxx

    Kudos for the pedagogic expertise here, not even Institut Goethe’s materials are as clear.

  • Bruno Silva

    thank you so much

  • Troye Sivan

    This is so helpful ♡♡♡

  • Martian gamer215

    Thx a lot

  • Dr Gjina Zeqiri

    Very good and simple explanation. Thank you very much.

  • Tiny Barjadze