The German Genitive Case

The genitive case is the case that shows possession and is expressed in English by the possessive "of" or an apostrophe ('s). The genitive case is also used with the genitive prepositions and some verb idioms. The genitive is used more in written German and is hardly used in spoken language. In spoken, everyday German, von plus the dative often replaces the genitive.

The first example uses the genitive to show possession.

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Das ist der Hund des Mannes.
That is the dog of the man.

This example shows how the same sentence would be spoken (with the genitive replaced by "von" and the dative).

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Das ist der Hund von dem Mann.
That is the dog of the man.

The question you can use for the genitive is whose (“wessen”). Whose dog is it? It’s the man’s dog. Have a look at the table below to see how the articles change in the singular:

Definite articles:
 
Nominative
Accusative
Dative
Genitive
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Masculine
der
den
dem
des
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Feminine
die
die
der
der
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Neuter
das
das
dem
des

Indefinite articles:

 
Nominative
Accusative
Dative
Genitive
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Masculine
ein
einen
einem
eines
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Feminine
eine
eine
einer
einer
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Neuter
ein
ein
einem
eines

In the Genitive not only the articles change but also the endings of the nouns. Luckily the feminine nouns don’t change, so all you have to remember are the endings for the masculine and neuter nouns. If the noun ends with –en, -el, –er or a vowel you simply add an –s to the noun in the genitive. For example

Nominative German
English
Genitive German
English
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der Lehrer
the teacher
des Lehrers
of the teacher
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ein Auto
a car
eines Autos
of a car

Zum Beispiel

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Die Frau des Lehrers ist im Urlaub
The wife of the teacher is on vacation.
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Die Spiegel eines Autos sind kaputt.
The mirrors of a car are broken

If the noun is short and ends with a consonant you have to add the ending –es. For example:

Nominative German
English
Genitive German
English
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der Mann
the man
des Mannes
of the man
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ein Schloss
a castle
eines Schlosses
of a castle

Zum Beispiel

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Das ist das Haus des Mannes.
That is the house of the man.
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Das ist der Besitzer der Katze.
That is the owner of the cat.
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Das ist das Buch eines Lehrers.
That is the book of a teacher.

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