The Nominative Case

What is the Nominative Case?

The nominative case is the base form of the noun and signals that we are talking about the subject of the sentence. You can locate the subject easily because it's the person / thing that performs the action and what tells you how to conjugate the verb.

The questions for the nominative case are "Wer?" (Who?) and "Was?" (What?)

The nominative case is also used after the verbs "sein," "werden," and "bleiben." (Warning: In this case it is NOT the subject!)


  • Das Pferd ist weiß."
  • Der Mann schenkt der Frau die Blumen. "
  • „Den Ball hat der Junge zum Geburtstag bekommen.

Articles for the Nominative Case

When to Use the Nominative Case

As Subject

  • Das Pferd ist weiß.“
  • Der Mann schenkt der Frau die Blumen.“
  • „Den Ball hat der Junge zum Geburtstag bekommen.“

The subject is always in the nominative case. NO EXCEPTIONS!



The subject is the person/thing that performs the action. It also tells you how to conjugate the verb.

Subject Complements

The verbs sein, werden, and bleiben use a subject complement. That means the verb is followed by a noun in the nominative case (even though it’s not the subject).

  • „Du bist ein guter Schüler.“
  • „Er ist der Beste!“
  • „Du willst einmal ein Lehrer werden.“

The subject complement is not the subject, but it does represent the subject in a certain sense. That's why it is in the nominative case.


Tip: Where is the subject?

The subject is often the first word of the sentence, but it can also come in the middle.

  • Der Junge hat den Ball zum Geburtstag bekommen“
  • „Den Ball hat der Junge zum Geburtstag bekommen“

In English, we always goes subject-verb-object. In German, on the other hand, the different nouns can go in any order. This isn't done just to be silly - it's done to emphasize something else in the sentence. Whatever comes first in the sentence is what the speaker wants to emphasize.


  • The nominative case signals describes the subject of the sentence
  • It’s the base form that you learn when learning new nouns.
  • We can ask for it with the question words "Wer?" (Who?) or "Was?" (What?)

Related Topics:

All about the Accusative Case.

All about the Dative Case.

All about the Genitive Case.

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

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