German Genitive

The German genitive case is the case that shows possession and is expressed in English by the possessive "of" or an apostrophe ('s). The German 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.

How to pronounce German genitive

The first example uses the German genitive to show possession.

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).

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:

Definite Articles

Masculine

der

(Masc. nominative)

den

(Masc. accusative)

dem

(Masc. dative)

des

(Masc. genitive)

Feminine

die

(Fem nominative)

die

(Fem. accusative)

der

(Fem. dative)

der

(Fem. genitive)

Neuter

das

(Neuter nominative)

das

(Neuter accusative)

dem

(Neuter dative)

des

(Neuter genitive)

Indefinite articles:

Masculine

ein

(Masc. nominative)

einen

(Masc. accusative)

einem

(Masc. dative)

eines

(Masc. genitive)

Feminine

eine

(Fem. nominative)

eine

(Fem. accusative)

einer

(Fem. dative)

einer

(Fem. genitive)

Neuter

ein

(Neuter nominative)

ein

(Neuter accusative)

einem

(Neuter dative)

eines

(Neuter genitive)

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

der Lehrer

the teacher (nominative)

des Lehrers

of the teacher (genitive)

ein Auto

a car (nominative)

eines Autos

of a car (genitive)

Zum Beispiel

Die Frau des Lehrers ist im Urlaub

The wife of the teacher is on vacation.

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:

der Mann

the man (nominative)

des Mannes

of the man (genitive)

ein Schloss

a castle (nominative)

eines Schlosses

of a castle (genitive)

Zum Beispiel

Das ist das Haus des Mannes.

That is the house of the man.

Das ist der Besitzer der Katze.

That is the owner of the cat.

Das ist das Buch eines Lehrers.

That is the book of a teacher.

Here are a few recommended German lessons to try next!

Bis bald!
Paul Weber
Paul Weber
Rocket German

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