The Genitive Case

What is the Genitive Case?

The genitive case signals belonging or possession.

It is used in noun-noun constructions, as well as after certain verbs, prepositions, and adjectives.

The question for the genitive case is "Wessen?" (Whose?)

Examples

  • „Das Pferd des Reiters ist weiß.“

⇒ Wessen Pferd ist weiß? – Des Reiters!

⇒ Noun-Noun Construction ⇒ Genitive

  • „Während des Spiels verletzt er sich.“

The preposition "während" requires the genitive case ⇒ des Spiels

Genitive Articles

Genitive - Special Features

Masculine and neuter nouns require an extra ending in the genitive case: "-s" or "-es."

Nouns that end in -s, -ß, -x, -z: ("-es" MUST be used)

One-syllable nouns: (Just an "-s" is ok, but "-es" usually sounds better)

  • „der Mann“ – „des Mann(e)s

For all other nouns: just "-s" (required)

  • „der Platz“ – „des Platzes

Noun-Noun Constructions

Belonging will normally be shown using a noun-noun construction.

The noun being "owned" is put in whatever case it would normally be in - it goes first in the noun-noun construction.

The "owner" is put in the genitive case - it goes second.

Tipp

Tip:

In noun-noun constructions you can avoid using the genitive case by adding the preposition "von" between the nouns and putting the second verb in the dative case.

  • „Das Pferd des Reiters ist weiß.“ = „Das Pferd von dem Reiter ist weiß.“

Noun-Noun Constructions with Proper Nouns

Because there is no article, we have to signal the genitive in a different way:

  • Holgers Pferd ist weiß.“

The proper noun (the "owner") goes to the front and requires the ending "-s."

If the proper noun ends in s, ß, x, or z, an apostrophe is needed:

  • Hans´ Pferd ist weiß.“


After Certain Prepositions

  • „Wegen der Krankheit kann er nicht arbeiten.“

The preposition "wegen" can only be followed by the genitive case.

The most important genitive prepositions:

"Während," "wegen," "trotz," "innerhalb," "außerhalb," "oberhalb," "unterhalb," "aufgrund," "anstelle," "(an)statt"

Merke dir

Remember!

If there is a preposition, the rule of the preposition applies, no matter which case the verb would normally require.

After Certain Verbs

Einer Sache: gedenken, bedürfen, Herr werden

  • „Wir gedenken der Toten.“
  • „Wir bedürfen der Hilfe.“
  • „Wir werden der Situation Herr.“

Jemanden einer Sache: anklagen, bezichtigen, überführen, beschuldigen, verdächtigen

  • „Man klagt ihn der Korruption an.“
  • „Man verdächtigt ihn des Verbrechens.“
  • „Man beschuldigt ihn des Verrats.“

Sich einer Sache: brüsten, erinnern, erfreuen, enthalten, schämen

  • „Ich erinnere mich der alten Zeiten.“
  • „Ich schäme mich meiner schlechten Aussprache.“
  • „Ich erfreue mich des Lebens!“

More about verbs with genitive complements.


After Certain Adjectives

  • Bewusst: „Ich bin mir meines Fehlers bewusst.“
  • Fähig: „Du bist des Mordes nicht fähig.“
  • Gewiss: „Sie ist sich des Erfolges gewiss.“
  • Sicher: „Du kannst dir meiner Unterstützung sicher sein!“

Also: "überdrüssig," "verdächtig," "würdig," "bedürftig"

The adjective always comes after the noun and stays in its base form.

And Now Some Good News!!!

If you are now thinking "How can I learn all of this stuff? Adjectives, verbs, prepositions, …"

Don’t worry! The genitive case isn’t used very often anymore.

You can often avoid the use of the genitive (and therefore having to know the genitive rules) by using prepositions instead:

  • „Ich erinnere mich der alten Zeiten„Ich erinnere mich an die alten Zeiten.“

We can use the preposition "an" to outsmart the genitive case. The preposition is then followed by the noun in the accusative case. The case always depends on which word (here the preposition) comes before the noun.

You can also avoid the noun-noun constructions by using the preposition "von" to get around it.

  • „Das Pferd des Reiters ist weiß.“ „Das Pferd von dem Reiter ist weiß.“
Achtung Hinweis

Attention:

But be careful: In noun-noun constructions the genitive is still used, since the sentence sounds better using the genitive case. But both are grammatically correct!

Related Topics:

All about the Nominative Case.

All about the Accusative Case.

All about the Dative Case.

Here are lists of prepositions that require specific cases: Accusative PrepositionsDative Prepositions, Two-Case Prepositions, and Genitive Prepositions.

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