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The Genitive Case: Showing Possession, part 2 Posted by on Jun 13, 2012 in Grammar, Language

In my last post I gave you some sentences to practice your new acquired knowledge about the German genitive case. So, before I start a new discussion, here is the key.

 

1.

A: Wessen Handy ist das? (Whose cellphone is that?)
B: (Doreen) Das ist Doreens Handy. (That is Doreen’s cellphone.)

 

2.

A: Wessen Tasse ist das? (Whose cup is that?)
B: (Rocco) Das ist Roccos Tasse. (That is Rocco’s cup.)

 

3.

A: Wessen Schuhe sind das? (Whose shoes are these?)
B: (Marco) Das sind Marcos Schuhe. (That are Marco’s shoes.)

 

4.

A: Wessen Handschrift ist das? (Whose handwriting is this?)
B: (Silvana) Das ist Silvanas Handschrift. (That is Silvana’s handwriting.)

 

5.

A: Wessen Hosen sind das? (Whose pants are these?)
B: (Christopher) Das sind Christophers Hosen. (That are Christopher’s pants.)

 

6.

A: Wessen Jacke ist das? (Whose jacket is that?)
B: (Steffen) Das ist Steffens Jacke. (That is Steffen’s jacket.)

 

7.

A: Wessen Kleider sind das? (Whose clothes are these?)
B: (Clara) Das sind Claras Kleider. (That are Clara’s clothes.)

 

8.

A: Wessen Kinder sind das? (Whose children are these?)
B: (Petra) Das sind Petras Kinder. (That are Petra’s children.)

 

9.

A: Wessen Uhr ist das? (Whose watch is that?)
B: (Franziska) Das ist Franziskas Uhr. (That is Franziska’s watch.)

 

10.

A: Wessen Schlüssel sind das? (Whose keys are these?)
B: (Susanne) Das sind Susannes Schlüssel. (That are Susanne’s keys.)

 

 

 

 

 

Now let’s go one step further. Since the genitive case shows possession or dependence, you have to decline the noun and its markers correctly. Noun markers are, for example, articles – definite ones (either der or des = ‘of the’) as well as indefinite ones (either einer or eines = ‘of a/an’). In other words, all articles you need to know for the genitive case are these four: der, des, einer, and eines. Other forms of articles are not relevant in the genitive case.

 

The articles for the genitive case

  Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
definite des der des der
indefinite eines einer eines  –

 

So when you want to use the correct genitive article you need to know whether a noun is masculine (der), feminine (die) or neuter (das) in nominative case. After you have clarified that, you only have to choose between two possible genitive definite articles, namely: der or des. Des is the genitive article for all masculine and neuter nouns, and der is the genitive article for all feminine nouns or all plural nouns, that is, when you talk about more than one thing or person the grammatical gender of a noun does not play any role because all plural nouns in the genitive case take the article der.

In case, you need an indefinite article for your statement you need to choose between eines and einer. Eines is the genitive indefinite articles for all masculine and neuter nouns and einer ist the genitive indefinite article for all feminine nouns. Since einer and eines mean ‘a’ or ‘an’, there is – understandably – no plural form of that.

In further posts we will see that the endings of noun markers (e.g. articles) are always the same when it comes to case ending, thus, have a closer look at these endings. As you can see, in the table, the word stem is always the same: d- and ein-. In order to declines them correctly you simply have to add the case ending –es or –er to it.

 

Example Sentences

The order of objects closely corresponds to the English possessive construction: “X of the Y”, that is “der” or “des” do simply mean “of the” and “eines” or “eines” do simply mean “of a/an”. In German you identify the object first and then specify its owner.

 

German Pronunciation English
Das ist der Sohn des Mannes. dAs ist deyR zohn des mA-nuhs. That is the son of the man.
Das ist der Ehemann der Frau. dAs ist deyR ey-huh-mAn deR fRou That is the husband of the woman.
Das ist die Mutter des Kindes. dAs ist dee moo-tuhR des kin-duhs That is the mother of the child.

 

 

 

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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


Comments:

  1. dmsk:

    So is it incorrect to say the following…………..?
    Mein Vaters Frau ist meine Stiefmutter.

    Mein Onkels Frau ist meine Tante.

    • Sandra:

      @dmsk You als have to modify the possessive pronoun: “Meines Vaters Frau ist meine Stiefmutter.” and “Meines Onkels Frau ist meine Tante.”

      Cheers,

      Sandra 🙂

  2. Bianca:

    This website is very helpful! However I need to point out a few grammatical errors in your English translations.
    Instead of saying the word “that”, when you speak about plural in this case the word should be “those”.
    Such as
    3. Those are Marco’s shoes
    5. Those are Christopher’s pants
    7. Those are Clara’s clothes
    8. Those are Petra’s children
    10. Those are Susanna’s keys

    Hope that helps!
    Bianca