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South Africans in Germany

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.

German for English Speakers


Subject of the sentence / verb
Person or thing doing the action.
Who (wer) or What (was) is doing something?

English German
The man eats an apple Der Mann isst einen Apfel

Who is eating an apple?
Der Mann is the Nominative part (subject) of the sentence


The direct object of the verb – Person, animal or thing which is directly affected by the action of the verb.
The questions for the accusative are “whom” (“wen”) or “what” (“was”)
The accusative is also used after certain prepositions ( bis, für, gegen, ohne, um, durch), see list below
Is used after specific verbs and when we have 2 people/things in a sentence

English German
The man eats an apple Der Mann isst einen Apfel

What does the man eat? – Einen Apfel
Einen Apfel is the Accusative part (object) of the sentence


Indirect object
Person or thing indirectly impacted by the action. In English this is often indicated by the words “to” or “for.”
In most situations you can also ask to whom (“wem”) or for whom.
The dative case is also used after certain prepositions, see list below
Not all sentences have Dative part.

English German
I give the woman a book Ich gebe der Frau ein Buch

To Whom is the book given? – Der Frau
Der Frau is Dative.
Frau is usually Die Frau, but in Dativ it becomes der Frau. See Articles

Genitive / Genativ

Shows possession. Das Auto meines Bruders. My brother’s car (the car of my brother). In English we use “of” or ” ‘s”.
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