There are four cases in German: nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. This might be a bit tricky for you to get your head around because you don’t use cases in English as much as in German.
The different cases are used depending on the function of the noun in the sentence. The noun can be the subject, direct object or the indirect object of a sentence. Don’t worry we’ll explain all that over the next few pages. One good thing about German is that the noun always starts with a capital letter. That makes it much easier to spot! Check out this free lesson on the German nominative.
Resources for further reading:
How to pronounce the German Nominative
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Der Hund bellt
The dog is barking
In this example the dog (“der Hund”) is doing the action, therefore he is the subject of the sentence. The nominative case is used for the subject of the sentence.
In German the nominative is often referred to as the “who-case” (“der Werfall”) , because you can use the question words “who ” or “ what ” to find out what the subject of the sentence is. For example: The sun is shining. What is shining? The sun . The sun is the subject and therefore in the nominative case.
Die Sonne scheint
The sun is shining
Der Bus fährt
The bus is driving
Das Kind lacht
The child is laughing
The nominative is always used after “sein” to be and “werden” to be or to become.
Es ist ein schöner Tag
It is a beautiful day
Es wird eine große Feier
It will be a big celebration
The nominative uses the articles “der”, “die”, “das” and “ein”, “eine”, “ein”. Which article is used depends on the gender of the noun. In some cases a noun doesn’t need an article at all, for example names, like Jana or Melina. Have a look at the examples below. The nominative is underlined.
Die Schule ist heute geschlossen.
The school is closed today.
Nadja ist schön.
Nadja is pretty.
Jana und Melina gehen in die Schule.
Jana and Melina are going to school.
Die Katze ist alt.
The cat is old.
Das Haus wird bald abgerissen.
The house will be demolished soon.
Schläft dein kleiner Bruder?
Is your little brother sleeping?
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