German Grammar: Cases

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Nominative Case

This case is used primarily to indicate the subject of a clause or sentence. The subject is the person or the thing doing the action and expresses "who" or "what" did something. This case is also used to note a noun that follows a "linking verb," such as "sein" (to be) or "werden" (to become). In essence, verbs such as these equate the object that follows them with the subject.

Accusative Case

This case is used primarily to note the direct object of a verb. The direct object is the person or thing that is receiving the action and expresses "whom" or "what" is being acted upon. This case is also used to indicate the object or certain prepositions.

Dative Case

This case is used primarily to note the indirect object of a verb. The indirect object is the person or thing "to whom" or "for whom" an action is being carried out. This case is also used to indicate the object of certain prepositions.

Genitive Case

This case is primarily used to show a possessive relationship between two people or things. This case case expresses "whose" or "of what." The noun, in this case, is the person or the thing that "possesses" or "has" another person or thing. In English, this relationship is indicated with an apostrophe "s", with the use of the preposition "of", or with the phrase "belonging to." This case is also used to indicate the object of certain prepositions. The definite and indefinite articles undergo a change in this case.

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