German Language Blog

German ordinal numbers in use: Choosing the proper gender, grammatical case, and number (pt. II) Posted by on Nov 11, 2011 in Grammar, Language

In my last post I discussed what adjectival endings you have to use when you use a noun with a definite article. Remember that ordinal numbers are grammatically nothing else than adjectives. That is, when you embed an ordinal in your sentence you have to modify it like any other adjectives. In this post I focus on the adjectival endings of ordinals that are used with indefinite articles and/or possessive pronouns.



Masculine (man) Feminine (woman) Neuter (child)
Nominative (m)ein erster Mann (m)eine zweite Frau (m)ein drittes Kind
Genitive (m)eines vierten Mannes (m)einer fünften Frau (m)eines sechsten Kindes
Dative (m)einem siebten Mann (m)einer achten Frau (m)einem neunten Kind
Accusative (m)einen zehnten Mann (m)eine elfte Frau (m)zwölftes Kind


As you can see, when you use nouns in the singular with indefinite articles and/or possessive pronouns you have to add either an –r, an –n or an –s to the ordinal. You add the ending –r to: masculine-nominative. You add the ending –s to: neuter-nominative and neuter-accusative. You add the ending –n to: masculine-genitive, masculine-dative, masculine-accusative, feminine-genitive, feminine-dative, neuter-genitive, and neuter-dative.

Additionally, you can see that you obtain the German possessive pronouns mein, meine, meines, meinen, and meinem (my) when you simply put the letter m to the beginning of the indefinite articles ein, eine, eines, einen, and einem (a/an).



Masculine (men) Feminine (women) Neuter (children)
Nominative meine ersten Männer meine zweiten Frauen meine dritten Kinder
Genitive meiner vierten Männer meiner fünften Frauen meiner sechsten Kinder
Dative meinen siebten Männern meinen achten Frauen mit meinen neunten Kindern
Accusative meine zehnten Männer meine elften Frauen meine zwölften Kinder


As you can see, when you use nouns in the plural with possessive pronouns you have to add the ending –n to all forms of the ordinal or adjective, thus it is the same like in the singular with definite articles. (Compare this with my previous post on that topic.) Please note that there does not exist an indefinite article in the plural.


Now you can apply these grammar rules to all other adjectives you know or will get to know.

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About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra