Talk:German grammar

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Old discussion[edit]


<1>Q: This page is getting pretty long, it should be split up!
A: There will be a need for splitting up the topic when this article grows. Actually it should be done right now.

<2>Q: I found a mistake!
A: Correct it

<3>Q: The style is cruel!
A: Improve it!

<4>Q: There is something wrong, a native speaker would never speak like that!
A: If you are sure, correct it, please.

<5>Q: You should explain what a/an adjective/noun/adverb/preposition is!
A: No, imagine Italian grammar, French grammar, Japanese grammar et cetera with the same explanations. The same stuff a hundred times. Only facts specific for German should be explained here.

<6>Q: I want a tutorial!
A: This is not a tutorial.

<7>Q: Ich kann Deutsch.
A: Dann hilf uns! ;)


<8>Q: Why "possessive article" and "demonstrative article"?
A: I know that terms like "dieser" or "seines" are "officially" called pronouns. But they behave actually like articles, and these Wikipedia-articles would turn unnecessarily complicated, if you called them pronouns. Maybe there is a term applicable to both articles and pronouns used as articles.

<9>Q: Why is _the complete_ conjugation not in German Grammar: Verbs?
A:The Conjugations of Perfekt, Plusquamperfekt, Futur I & II include the construction of sentences. So I decided to put the Conjugation in "verbs". I regard this structure as more logical.

<10>Q: My question regards your discussion of the German case system. Ancient Greek shows case through noun/adjective suffixes just as Latin. To me German is no more comparable to Ancient Greek than Latin. Can you justify the comment? NovemberDecember (talk) 10:17, 3 August 2008 (UTC)NovemberDecember

Discussion Section


  • I don't think so. It is way too long and should be shortened. There are plenty of little details that should be cut away to make this article more readable: If it's not readable, nobody will read it. If nobody will read it, ¿what's the point? IMHO, someone who wants to learn all the details is going to buy a grammar book anyway. User:Capullo 21:50, 24 May 2004 (UTC)
  • am native speaker. Just IMHO, ok? article is way too long for fast

overview and OTOH too short for a real grammar.

  • It's much too long for a wikipedia article. It should be broken up into German verbs, German pronouns, etc. On the other hand, it's incredibly useful as it is. --Stevage 13:41, 1 December 2005 (UTC)
  • see <6>.


  • I improved it but it seems that change was unwanted. IMHO, comparing German tenses (and their usage & meaning) to English tenses gives English speakers instant access to the topic: Immer an die Leser denken, liebe Kollegen!. User:Capullo 21:50, 24 May 2004 (UTC)
  • I didn't found any changes after the old article was overwritten except by myself. If I have removed some stylistic corrections, add them again, please.


  • Native speakers would say it like that, but interested monolingual English readers won't understand it. You must give translations! User:Capullo 21:50, 24 May 2004 (UTC)
  • I agree, principially. They should be added.


  • Good question: What is it? User:Capullo 21:50, 24 May 2004 (UTC)
  • I suppose it to be a online grammar book. If you shorten this article, you can make it a tutorial anyway, I think. An interessting alternative would be to make a deeper article about special stuff, for example about the development of German Grammar, past influences from other languages, or something in this way.
  • This article seems to me quite "umfangreich" (includes much). So wouldn't it be better to join it with the one in the wikibooks and only refering to this page?


  • I think, that there should be a Conjugation Part in the Verbs Section. Verbs was intended to do nothing more than showing up the possible forms, and not to explain the tenses. All the tenses, including Präsens and Präteritum, are actually explained in the corresponding Section after. I think, the construction of the forms should not be mixed up with the usage of the tenses. So, actually my answer was wrong: Präsens and Präteritum are not explained in the Verbs Section, just their forms are, but without any further context; the Tenses Section takes the forms and puts them into a context, so it actually explains all the Tenses.

Generic pronoun in German grammar[edit]

In German, is the German word for "he" commonly masculine or commonly generic?? 22:27, 25 May 2004 (UTC)

Masculine: "Es ist ein Er" (=it is a he = it is a boy). "Ein" could also signify neutral grammatical gender, but an ER in capitals just does not feel neutral at all ;-) All nouns and pronouns that refer to human beings and all pronouns that refer to animals (often also nouns that refer to animals) are masculine or feminine depending on the sex of the person/animal. Exception: If the noun ends in "-chen" or "-lein" (like in Mädchen, Fräulein=girl), it is a diminutive that is always neuter. Therefore, a girl is a grammatical "it" in German (literally: "The girl wears white shoes. It loves them"). Nevertheless, often "sie" (she) is used as a pronoun for Mädchen ("She loves them") in order to avoid the impression that a girl is a liveless thing. Another exception: Kind (=child) is always neuter, be it a boy or a girl. However, Junge (boy) is always masculine. Also, all other masculine nouns are referred to as "er" (he). "Der Mann kaufte einen Stuhl. Er bezahlte ihn in bar" (literally, "The man bought a chair. He paid him cash." -- The chair is a "he").

References to a Mädchen or a Weib are always feminine these days, though in German lessons it is still insisted that this is constructio ad sensum. However, in all other issues grammatical gender is basically followed, das Kind will breed an "es" reference even if we know the sex. I insisted, by the way, as a little child in calling our female rabbits with both he and a masculine surname, because after all it is der Hase. I didn't care a bit that they were actually not Hasen (hares) but das Kaninchen (rabbit), too. -- (talk) 15:32, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

english names for grammatical constructions[edit]

for consistency across this article (i.e. "Noun" instead of "Nomen oder Hauptwort"), I want to (and will presently) change all the grammatical names to their english equivalents.

Style edits by me[edit]

I have made numerous style edits throughout this article. I have tried to make the English usage as correct as possible consistent within the article. There are still a few Latin grammatical terms in this article, but I don't know their English equivalents offhand (I'm not a grammarian).

Also, I replaced a number (maybe all?) of the tables with the so-called Wiki-td table syntax (see Help:Table). This form is more compact and (in my opinion) easier to read and manage than standard HTML syntax. I also used <th> and <caption> markup where appropriate in tables.

I think this article is now in better shape. Please drop a note on my talk page if you have any questions or comments Gwimpey 05:37, 8 Jul 2004 (UTC)

section on verbs[edit]

Ok, so tonight I rewrote some of the section on verbs, and I might have done a lot of questionable changes, but at least i included tables of preterite conjugation and an explanation as to which German verbs build the perfect with "haben" and which with "sein". And I miss them. Poccil, could you please explain why you didn't keep them?

--Kruemel 00:00, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Die Hütte des Stammeshäuptlings best translates as "the chief of the tribe's hut" because

  • Stammeshäuptling is "the chief of the tribe" and the possessive of that is "the chief of the tribe's".
  • The chief of the tribe is a person, and with people we don't usually use "of" but rather "'s" in English, e.g: Bob's hat, not the hat of Bob.
  • You couldn't misunderstand this as "the chief of the hut belonging to the tribe" as it doesn't make sense.

Keep on looking for mistakes, though, because I'm sure I've made one somewhere! :-) Saintswithin 12:52, 7 Mar 2005 (UTC)

My intention was to provide a (kind of literal) "translation" more closely following German word order rather than a perfect English translation as this could help users who are not too familiar with German to easier understand the structure of the example. --Markus (Mh26) 18:09, 7 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I'ld translate it: "The chieftain's hut" That the guy is a tribe's chieftain... I think, that is indirectly said by using the word chieftain. But it could serve as a good example for how redundant german language can be. (talk) 22:21, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

accusative of duration[edit]

I removed "über". It is more natural to use it, but it ruins the point of the example. It is supposed to show how an accusative without preposition or postposition can be used. Using a postposition here spoils everything.

Generic Terms[edit]

The terms "genitive attribute" and "position" are generic and I'm not sure of their origin. Ladefoged in his book titled "Transformational Grammar" refers to these items as complements and adjuncts of noun phrases respectively.

In addition the term "genitive attribute" might be associated with what Ladefoged has termed attributives, which are adjectives and other prenominal adjuncts. Since complements are referred to by this article as attributes and linguists use the term attributive to describe what this article terms positions confusion could result.

Original research?[edit]

I hate to say it, but this page looks like original research. Everything should be cited to reference books. --Stevage 13:41, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

I doubt that descriptions and examples fall under the header "original research". I can say full-heartedly that all of this came from some book some where.

Then I hope it isn't a copyvio :) Stevage 19:56, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

This isn't really research anyway, these are examples of common occurances. We aren't exploring anything here that 80 million plus people don't already know to one degree or another. I think we can provide examples of german grammar without resorting to finding a quote for every single possible iteration...

Ionesco 20:30, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

Revamp noun table[edit]

I have completely rewritten the declension classes noun table, as I found it almost incomprehensible in its previous form. The biggest change is now instead of just showing a noun form as "-e", it's shown as, eg, "Berge". For reference here is the old table:

-(e)s, -e    der Berg, des Berg(e)s, die Berge
   Nom.    Acc.    Dat.     Gen.
   -0-     -0-     -(e)     -(e)s
   -e      -e      -en      -e

-(e)s, -er   das Bild, des Bild(e)s, die Bilder
   -0-     -0-     -(e)     -(e)s
   -er     -er     -ern     -er

-(e)s, -en   der Staat, des Staat(e)s, die Staaten
   -0-     -0-     -(e)     -(e)s
   -en     -en     -en      -en

-s, -0-  der Fahrer, des Fahrers, die Fahrer
   -0-     -0-     -0-      -s
   -0-     -0-     -n     -0-

-s, -e  der Lehrling, des Lehrlings, die Lehrlinge
   -0-     -0-     -0-      -s
   -e      -e      -en      -e

-s, -s  das Radio, des Radios, die Radios
   -0-     -0-     -0-      -s
   -s      -s      -s       -s

-en, -en  der Student, des Studenten, die Studenten
   -0-     -en     -en      -en
   -en     -en     -en      -en

-0-, -0-  die Mutter, der Mutter, die Mütter
   -0-     -0-     -0-      -0-
   -0-     -0-     -n     -0-

-0-, -en  die Meinung, der Meinung, die Meinungen
   -0-     -0-     -0-      -0-
   -en     -en     -en      -en

-0-, -e  die Kraft, der Kraft, die Kräfte
   -0-     -0-     -0-      -0-
   -e      -e      -en      -e

-0-, -s  die Gang, der Gang, die Gangs
   -0-     -0-     -0-      -0-
   -s      -s      -s       -s

-(e)ns, -(e)n  der Name, des Namens, die Namen
   -0-     -(e)n   -(e)n    -(e)ns
   -(e)n   -(e)n   -(e)n    -(e)n

It would be great if someone could check this, as I don't actually speak German at all. I suspect it's wrong for mutter and krafte (something to do with ablaut - I know nothing), and for name - is nameen really possible?

All comments welcome. Stevage 19:56, 15 December 2005 (UTC)

German word stems sometimes change in the plural form by adding an umlaut and/or changing a vowel letter in the middle of the final syllable (umlauted vowels are technically different vowels anyway, so this is really one principle). the parentheses in the last row indicate that the letter e doesn't always join the word stem. Words that end in a vowel would only add the letter n. Durova 04:34, 16 January 2006 (UTC)
The Gang example makes sense if die Gang was meant to be a group of criminals/gangsters (Bande). But there exists also der Gang (the floor,corridor,passageway... and even gear or gear speed). Maybe it is clever to use nouns that do not have several meanings. Just to not confuse the reader. A good substitude would be e.g., CD - die CD, der CD, die CDs (meant is a compact disc) (talk) 21:42, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
There is a diffeence but just in the spoken language. The gang (criminals) is pronounced in a english way (ä) but the corridor with a german a.Ego fui (talk) 22:52, 31 October 2010 (UTC)


I've made a change to explain a small class of verbs better. Those whose prefixes can be either separable or inseparable depend on whether the speaker intends the literal or figurative meaning. I've provided a new example that anyone with a year or two of studies can understand: "Bitte wiederholen Sie das," vs. "Bitte holen Sie das wieder." This should convey a better understanding in about the same space as the former version. Regards, Durova 03:33, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

More stuff I've explained weak nouns above the table that presents an example, expanded the description of prepositional cases, and added a subsection about flavoring particles. Maybe some of the things that tormented me as a student will be more comprehensible to the next generation. Durova 04:37, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Prepositional phrases[edit]

Since "im" and "ins" are usually used instead of "in dem" and "in das", respectively, the sentence "Ich schlafe in dem Haus" rather conveys the impression that the person sleeps in a particular house. --Markus (Mh26) 22:50, 16 January 2006 (UTC)

Subordinate clauses[edit]

I've added the convention about time, place, and manner to the subordinate clause section. Durova 23:06, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Contradiction in adjective inflection section?[edit]

"Strong inflection is used:

  • When no article is used
  • After manch- (some), solch- (such), viel- (much; many), welch- (which), which have definite article declination."

but a few paragraphs later...

"Weak inflection

The weak inflection is used when there is is a definite word in place (der, die, das, den, dem, des, jed-, jen-, manch-, dies-, solch- and welch-). The definite word has provided most of the necessary information, so the adjective endings are simpler."

Not being a German speaker myself, I don't know which is correct, but surely not both? Tennin 16:22, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Other sites seemed to support the second passage, so I went ahead and changed the article (moving "After manch- ..." to the weak section) figuring that someone informed can always revert/clarify if this is incorrect. Tennin 19:00, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

It depends on whether the modifier carries the strong ending itself

manch weiser Mann mancher weise Mann

many a wise man

You have pretty much free choice between these usages. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:41, 1 October 2013 (UTC)


I have begun the process of splitting it into several articles: German nouns, German verbs, German sentence structure. Ideally each of those sections in this article would still contain a basic overview of the topic, without going into too much detail. Then this article will end up as a concise overview of German grammar, and the subarticles will contain the detail. Would others like to continue the process of splitting? Stevage 22:44, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Strange sentence[edit]

I noticed the following in the article:

NOT: Die Soldaten dessen Armee

Anyone know what this is associated with? I know it is incorrect (it should be Die Soldaten, deren Armee...etc.) but it isn't clear what it's trying to show. Jamyskis Whisper, Contribs Germany 10:38, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Origin of "Mädchen"[edit]

Hello everybody,

just a tiny correction:

"Mädchen", for example, is the diminutive form of an archaic feminine German noun die Magd, meaning "young woman"

It is this diminutive from of "die Maid", as well meaning "young woman". I'm just going to exchange the two occurrences of "Magd".

Entry in German Wikitionary

Oliver Uwira 09:58, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

I think wiktionary is wrong. Do you have another source? -lethe talk + 10:12, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Mädchen entstand im 17. Jahrhundert aus Mägdchen, der Verkleinerungsform zu Magd 
(ahd. magad, mhd.   maget, daraus auch mhd. meit, nhd. Maid; idg. magho-s jung).

Als Diminutiv ist Mädchen sächlichen grammatikalischen Geschlechts; trotzdem folgt ein weiter 
entfernt stehendes Pronomen oft dem biologischen Geschlecht: »Silke war ein aufgeschlossenes 
Mädchen, das guten Kontakt zu seinen Kameradinnen fand. Besonders bemühte sie sich auch um ihre 
Schwester.« (Beispiel aus Duden, Band 9) [1]
Yes, I believe you are right. As a native speaker the Wiktionary entry made perfect sense for me and I additionally always thought it was derived from "Maid". Now the above explanation says "Maid" and "Magd" have a common Old High German root. I'm not a very experienced Wikipedian yet, so I would leave the decision to you. Just revert the change or add this bit of information? And lay a hand on the Wiktionary entry? Oliver Uwira 09:34, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
So your source says that Mädchen is the diminutive of archaic Magd. This is in agreement with what I know about the word. It says that there is an nhd word Maid. What's nhd? New High German? Anyway, I think the wiktionary entry is the right place to have a detailed etymology of the word. Here, it suffices to say "diminutive of Magd", though I think we could also get away with saying nothing at all. -lethe talk + 13:45, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
mhd. - Mittelhochdeutsch (middle high german) 1050-1350
nhd. - Neuhochdeutsch (new high german) 17/18th century - today
ahd. - Althochdeutsch (old high german) 750 - 1050
idg. - indogermanisch (indo-germanic) (talk) 23:21, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

I think there is a little misstake in the comment on "die Magd". The meaning of "Magd" as a young woman may be rarely used today, but "Magd" as a special word for a femal, unmarried person working on a farm it is still in use, especially in Bavaria, so I concluse that the expression should be changed into "rarely used in this context/meaning today" Unfortunately, I am not registered in the english Wikipedia, so you must be lucky with Grami

Magd = maiden-- (talk) 16:36, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

German grammar infobox[edit]

It would be great if somone could make an infobox linking the different topics together. Just something which links to German grammar, German verbs, German nouns and so forth - there are about 10 such articles. It could then be placed at the top of each of these articles to make it easier to navigate around. I'm just a bit busy atm. Stevage 13:51, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

Ok, did it. AWB rocks. Stevage 17:20, 4 June 2006 (UTC)


What is the plural of kümmel?Cameron Nedland 21:38, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

The same as the singular: Kümmel. --Schuetzm 14:38, 17 October 2006 (UTC)
Thank you.Cameron Nedland 19:52, 18 October 2006 (UTC)
Kümmel is an uncountable noun, same as Wasser (water), Geld (money) or Sand. -- net 09:53, 19 October 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but Kümmel is also the name of a kind of schnaps, in which case it is countable.

Hello, here is Christoph,a native speaker from Germany. Sorry, my english isn´t perfect, but I hope you understand me. Since a few weeks I am "surfing" in the english version of wikipedia to read something interesting about Germany and german persons from your sight. I read your discussion about Kümmel. Kümmel is uncountable. It´s like "Salz" oder "Zucker". I guess you mean "Kümmerling" with the Schnaps. The plural of this word is "Kümmerling" too: Ich habe gestern 1 Kümmerling getrunken (Yesterday I was drinking one Kümmerling (or something like that)) Ich habe gestern 10 Kümmerling getrunken. (Yesterday I was drinking (I drunk?) ten Kümmerling. NOT: Kümmerlinge oder Kümmerlings

In the german version of wikipedia my name is Christoph Radtke

You can't compare "Kümmel" to "Wasser" because Kümmel IS countable. "Ein Kümmel" is one corn of the sort of spice called "Kümmel". "Salz" does have a countable plural, too("Salze", meaning minerals and stuff...). It's just that Kümmel's plural is the same as its singular nominative form, just like "der Himmel" (= 1.the sky 2.Heaven).

Uhm that is wrong. You can say "Ein Kümmelkorn" but not "Ein Kümmel". "Kümmel" means the spice or the plant, but either way its only countable by adding the word "Pflanze" (plant) or "Korn" (grain/corn). (talk) 23:00, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

"Wasser" does have a plural ("Gewässer") but it's not countable, same goes with "Geld" (money) and "Gelder" ("moneys", when you're talking about census and the like). It does have a plural but not a countable one and its plural can actually change the meaning of its singular form.1stLtLombardi 17:28, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

"die Wässer" is the plural form of "das Wasser". "das Gewässer" plural "die Gewässer" means a natural habitat containing water, like the sea, a river or a lake. Still water is not countable that is right. An example using several brands of sparkling table water to show the usage of "Wässer": "Kein Wasser ist wie das andere. Aber alle Wässer enthalten Kohlensäure." - "Each water is different. But all waters contain carbon dioxide." (talk) 23:00, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
I'd say "die Wasser", and so does Michael Ende ("wir, die Wasser des Lebens" etc., Neverending Story, final chapter). But let's face it, this plural is quite rate. -- (talk) 09:40, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
Every noun can be forced into plural in German.
Der Kümmel -> die Kümmel
Das Salz -> die Salze
Das Chaos -> die Chaose ('s' pronounced like an 'double s')
Das Weltall -> die Weltalle/Weltalls
Der Unterricht -> Die Unterrichte
German grammar doesn't give a damn about countability, when forming the plural. That some plurals aren't in use is because it doesn't make sense logically to use them or there is no such thing in reality, although you can form them with German grammar. - (talk) 06:03, 14 April 2018 (UTC)

Different cases of Genitive Pronouns[edit]

The endings of genitive pronouns change with the gender, number and case of the noun in whose place they stand, in the same way genitive adjectives' endings change with the case of the noun the modify. Eg. "Ich mag meinen Vater," as opposed to "Mein Vater mag mich." The table in the section "pronouns" should at least make a note of this when discussing genitive pronouns, right now it seems that all genitive pronouns and adjectives end in "er" in all scenarios. Not all need to be listed in that particular table, but a note should be made and a link given to a table that lists all forms of possesive pronouns, or at least the indefinite article, which follow the same pattern. As a reference, I am using:

  • Moeller, Jack, Adolph, Winnifred, Hoecherl-Alden, Gisela, and Lalande II, John Deutsch Heute Houghton Mifflin Co. (2000) ISBN: 0-395-96259-5

JoeyETS 00:46, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

"das Mädchen"[edit]

I know that "Mädchen" is an often used example for a "wrongly" used gender, but in my opinion, it's a quite irritating one. In fact, the diminutive terms "-lein" and "-chen" will turn every word into a neuter, regardless of its original neuter. "Das Haus {n}" -> "Das Häuschen {n}", "Der Herr {m}" -> "Das Herrchen {n}" or "Die Magd {f}" -> "Das Mägdchen/Mädchen {n}". That doesn't make a word lose its original neuter. Maybe someone with better English skills than me wants to point that out in the article. -- 12:37, 29 April 2007 (UTC)

No idea how to use this page, so please excuse any mistakes... There are plenty of examples for "wrong" genders, as "das Weib" (woman) is neutral (sächlich), while "die Sache" (thing, case) ist female (weiblich).

That's true and I changed it. It is "das Weib" and "die Frau" which both means woman, but "Weib" is more deprecative. "die Sache" is right.

I have an alien explanation why "das Mädchen" has a "wrong" gender. We say "das Kind" (the child). Everything that was made small or cute by adding "chen" or "lein" is neutral for the sole reason of being the small and cute child version of something. So using the neutral form for a feminin child is not really wrong. Unfortunately "der Junge" (the boy) has nothing that makes him cute, so his gender is masculin. If "der Junge" was "das Jünglein" it would be a completely different matter. I suppose the image of boys is to be not cute, or least not to behave cute. And therefore boys cannot be neutral. Now please don't take this serious, but I think it is a funny explanation stemming from the idea of patriarchic societal heritage ;) (talk) 22:36, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
Whether Weib is deprecative or not is a matter of question, first, and of situation, anyway. (Of course plain adressing a woman as Weib is usually deprecative.)-- (talk) 09:46, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

Article layout[edit]

I think this article needs an extreme makeover wikipedia edition. I compared it with random grammar articles like Danish grammar, Spanish grammar, Japanese grammar, Italian grammar and Russian grammar. The layout of this article is ridiculous. Thoughts, anybody? --Stefán Örvarr Sigmundsson (talk) 05:11, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

I would like to standardlise the layout of this article. --Stefán Örvarr Sigmundsson (talk) 05:15, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

Cardinal Numbers[edit]

The example is strange, since it does not explain why 5 (fünf) is not a good choice for a conjunction with einige. "... If the number is not very high, it is usually not combined with an indefinite plural article like "einige" or "mehrere". ... NOT: "Einige fünf Äpfel" BUT: "Einige Äpfel" or "Fünf Äpfel" (some apples, five apples) ..."

It is not less strange to say: Einige tausenddreihundertvierundzwanzig Äpfel. The point is, a cardinal number after "einige" is supposed to show the coarse order of magnitude. That is usually done with round lots (100,1000,10000...) or common quantities like Dutzend (dozen). Ex: Einige tausend Menschen. (talk) 21:56, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

This works because "Tausend" and "Hundert" originally were what "Million" is still recognized as, to wit, proper substantives. So "einige" is the adjective referring to the substantive "T/tausend" (and we may even discuss whether this wouldn't really require a capitalization of the "Tausend"). You cannot say "einige zehn"; though you can say "einige Dutzend" because Dutzend is, again, a substantive. The point here is (apparently) that the English construction "some umpteen items of x" doesn't work that way in German; we don't use "einige" in front of (proper) numerals, but "ungefähr".-- (talk) 21:31, 29 March 2016 (UTC)

Empty Subsections[edit]

The Dative and Accusative subsections under Grammar/Cases are empty. I will not try to fix it because my knowledge of the German language is still very very limited). --Gustgr (talk) 02:41, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

"Der Tisch" example[edit]

What do the letters in brackets signify? Why are there two columns in the table? (I know, singular vs. plural, but plurals have not been introduced yet at this point in the article). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:25, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

These letters signify that this specific letter can be omitted. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:46, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Der Tisch gab dem Tisch(e) den Tisch des Tisch(e)s.
  • Der Tisch gab des Tisch(e)s Tisch dem Tisch(e)
  • Den Tisch des Tisches gab dem Tisch der Tisch.
  • Dem Tisch(e) gab den Tisch des Tisch(e)s der Tisch.
  • Des Tisch(e)s Tisch gab dem Tisch(e) den Tisch.

Should it not be 'Tisch(e)s' in the third example as well? If it can't be omitted, clarification is justified. Also, shouldn't it be 'der Tisch' at the end of the last one? Alfakol (talk) 17:24, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Those five examples appeared to me as finest jibberish. Nevertheless: I would suggest to use "Fisch"(fish) instead, so one can accept the metaphorical possibility of animals giving themselves to each other.

Der Fisch gab dem Fisch(e) den Fisch des Fisch(e)s. a.s.o.-- (talk) 16:44, 14 May 2014 (UTC)


The heading seems bare for this article. Should some general be added at the top for the main points in German grammar? Captain Gamma (talk) 18:32, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Tisch confusion[edit]

The example attempting to help explain case goes like this:

"In a sentence (using only one noun for understanding purposes):

Der Tisch gab dem Tisch(e) des Tisch(e)s den Tisch.
The table gave the table of the table the table."

Now if I made the following modifications:

"Der A gab dem B des C den D."
(nom A, dat B, gen C, acc D)

then would the English be

"The A gave the B of the C the D" as in "A gave C's B to D"?

I thought that the genitive noun possessed the accusative noun, and that in this situation the nominative would be giving the accusative to the dative and not vice versa.

But if the example is correct, then that means that the nominative directly affects the dative instead of the accusative and that the genitive possesses the dative instead of the accusative...

Would anyone care to help explain this to me? Thanks.

Btw I think having different nouns in the example rather than them being all the same (der Tisch) would greatly clarify things for readers.

YoshiroShin (talk) 00:15, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Okay I think I've figured it out: if it was "Der A gab dem B des C den D", then the English would be
"The A gives the D to the B of the C." or "The A gives to (or gave) the B of the C the D."

The first one is right! (talk) 21:17, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

YoshiroShin (talk) 21:13, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

The whole example is very confusing to me (I am a native speaker!). I suggest to make another example with different nones:

Der Mann (the man)
Der Junge (the boy)
Der Knochen (the bone)
Der Hund (the dog)

These nones have all the same gramatical gender (male) and so the article, that shows the case, is the same.

Der Mann gibt dem Jungen den Konchen des Hundes.
The man gives the boy the bone of the dog.

This sentence is an example of how cases are used in German (and in every other language with grammatical case). This differs from English, where the word order in a sentence has more meaning. In German, because the function of each noun is not marked by its position within the sentence but by the declined articles — and in case of genitive and dative also by a suffix at the end of the noun itself — the German sentence could also be:

Der Mann gibt den Konchen des Hundes dem Jungen.
Den Knochen des Hundes gibt der Mann dem Jungen.
Dem Jungen gibt der Mann den Konchen des Hundes.
Dem Jungen gibt den Knochen des Hundes dem Jungen.

In these senteces is the clause: "den Konchen des Hundes" (the bone of the dog). The possessor is after the objetk he owns. But in the following senteces the objekt is after the possessor: "Des Hundes Knochen" (the dog's bone).

Der Mann gibt des Hundes Knochen dem Jungen.
Des Hundes Knochen gbit der Mann dem Jungen.
Dem Jungen gibt der Mann den Hundes Knochen.

Although some of these may sound exotic in modern day German, they are grammatically correct (and even rather unusual constructions are more regularly used in poetry). With a flexible word order like that it is very easy, for example, to put the most important part of a sentence in the front of the sentence.

Please comment my suggestion. (talk) 21:17, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

They don't sound exotic, if we suppose that we have been talking about a certain specific dog (otherwise, "der Knochen des Hundes" would be somewhat weird). But the last is wrong; it must be either
Dem Jungen gibt der Mann des Hundes Knochen.
In this case Knochen is accusative, but unfortunately not eager to say so; the Ancient Greeks said something like "*den des Hundes Knochen" respectively, Germans apparently aren't so friendly. If the genetive attribute stands before the thing it is attribute of, it takes away its article, but doesn't lose its own. And, well, if this happens with anything else but proper names, we are definetely speaking of poetical usage, and in this case of a weird poem. - Or:
Dem Jungen gibt der Mann den Hundesknochen.
Similiar pronunciation as in the example you indicated, but here, its a compound. (And of course compounds have to do something with the genetive.) However, while this compound is not specifically ungrammatical, and compouds need not be extant to be used, a German teacher would count this as well as mistake, since the usual compound of Hund and Knochen would be Hundeknochen, or Hundsknochen in Bavarian. (Another not-extant would be Hundknochen.) -- (talk) 19:47, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

Split verbs example[edit]

Lori, kennst du meine Frau? Ja? Wer stellte euch vor? Lori, do you know my wife? Yeah? Who introduced you?

Just wondering, since "introduced" is in the past, shouldn't the last question be:

Wer hat euch vorgestellt? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:42, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

The way I learned English, it should be "who has introduced you" even there... anyway, "since it is in the past" is no reasoning as stellte ist past (i. e. preterite) as well. Of course, you can always use perfect tense in German; as this is direct speech, it seems better; since we are not at the moment telling a story or giving a background (think of French imparfait when I say background), it should really be perfect tense. But take the latter as private language feeling of one who is in this respect a foreigner without formal grammar study, since I'm Upper German and we use the preterite only with some words which are not, as "introduce" is, verb of action.-- (talk) 19:36, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

"Die Gnade seiner"[edit]

doesn't sound archaic to me in any way (though I admit that I haven't studied the matter), but just definitely wrong. Why should anybody get the idea to use a personal pronoun where a possessive pronoun fits? There have always been possessive pronouns as far as I know; I mean they were there in Latin and at least Middle High German. Yes, there is a personal pronoun genitive but no, it was and to some extent is used for different things. - As has been mentioned, there is no early High German. To me, this sounds as if somebody wanted to explain what these odd pers. pron. genitives are there for and figured something out. An answer would be: Prepositions, most of all. "Der Rindsbraten befindet sich innerhalb meiner", the roastbeef is located inside of me, may sound strange but can be constructed. A genitivus objectivus could be among things to think of; we might then say "die Liebe seiner", the love to him. But never for "his love".-- (talk) 22:51, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Dative with -e[edit]

I came to this page for example like zu Hause, Stein im wege, etc. where -e is still used in fixed expressions with the dative. I was disappointed. Tibetologist (talk) 17:28, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

I guess this is something the Duden has made up: "In fixed expressions a dative may retain its original -e." However, I differ from the Duden. Let me tell you how I see it.
Masculine and neuter substantives of the strong declension (sorry for that) may (still) always be constructed with an -e in the dative and can always lose it. That's it. Most of the time, the -e is higher style. If the word is stressed, -e tends to fall away; it is not unnormal to say "ich gab dem Kinde ein Buch" but if the question precedes "wem gabst Du ein Buch", it is "ich gab dem Kind ein Buch". In one case, zu Hause, the -e is necessary for correctness, though zu Haus is colloquially quite okay. Anything that sounds like a fixed expression ("eine Bemerkung am Rande", etc.) tends to retain the -e more than other words, but can lose it as well ("eine Bemerkung am Rand", also "Stein im Weg", etc. etc.) -- (talk) 09:58, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
The expression "im Wege" that I suppose the Duden speaks about, means "in line with, in the context of". For example: Antrag auf Kreditkostehilfe im Wege des Härteausgleichs nach § 23. It's mostly used in lawyer jargon. There are indeed some fixed expressions retaining the dative -e. For example, it is more common to write in dem Maße wie than in dem Maß wie. But I would agree that there are no cases where the -e is really obligatory. In case of doubt one should always leave it out. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:50, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

Singular of Measurement[edit]

The author doesn't seem to known about the singular of measurement.

Both English and German have a singular of measurement.

It is not: a six-feet tall man, a three-inches gap, a five-pounds package, or a twenty-four bottles case.

It is a six-foot tall man, a three-inch gap, a five-pound package and a twenty-four bottle case.

In the sentence, "He had three six-inch boards," "inch" is singular because it is a measurement and "boards" is plural because it is a quantity. The six-inch wide board is six inches wide, and a six-foot tall man is six feet tall.

In German, but not English, the singular of measurement is used after a bare number. English six glasses of beer for three euros comes out Sechs Glas Bier für drei Euro — Preceding unsigned comment added by KenWC (talkcontribs) 20:02, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

The usage of "Weib"[edit]

'das Weib (old, regional or anthropological: woman)' I am a native speaker and I have to say that this usage note is not entirely correct. I agree on old and regional, but I don't really undertand what 'anthropological' does mean here. Anyhow, there is no contemporary anthropologist that uses the word 'Weib'. This is because it is widely considered to be both colloquial and pejorative. (It's comparable to the English word 'broad', at least if you don't mind the historical usage.) All things considered, I suggest to change the usage note to (old, regional or pejorative) --Letkhfan (talk) 22:39, 3 October 2012 (UTC)

Genetive case vs. possessive dative (colloquially)[edit]

Hi. I'm from Bonn. I didn't want to change the article because I suppose there may be regional differences. But I'd have to disagree with the statement that using a possessive dative in spoken language causes "embarassment especially among educated speakers". Here in the Rhineland, a possessive dative would never cause embarassment among less-educated people, not even most educated people except pedantic ones.

One must also distinguish two constructions. The first one is dem + noun + sein (dem Peter sein Vater), which is frowned upon a little and sometimes avoided. But dem sein (without noun) instead of dessen is absolutely common usage here. For example: Du kennst doch den Peter? – Ja. – Dem sein Vater ist kürzlich gestorben. It would actually be much more curious to use dessen in a sentence like this. Well. I wonder what people from other regions think. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:07, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

In that case dessen has the simple alternative sein. But I won't frown on any such things as I'm Bavarian. -- (talk) 15:25, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
You won't ever read in a German nationwide newspaper or in a serious science report a possesive Dative. It is often used in colloquial language, but it is'nt used in educated circles. That is absolute correct.--Lehrann (talk) 22:43, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
Let's leave it at that is is incorrect speech. "Educate circles", whoever this (imho) construction may consist of, may very well use such constructions leastways in Bavaria. In speech that is, certainly not in writing. There simply is such a thing as "correct speech" which this construction does not belong to; without the need to explain this by some "class barrier" or defend it as an educated man by haughty behaviour, and the like. Though it seems to be literary after all: Rumpelstiltskin sings: "Heute back' ich, morgen brau' ich, übermorgen hol' ich der Königin ihr Kind" (today I'm baking, tomorrow I'll be brewing, the day after I'll go to get the Mrs. Queen her child").-- (talk) 21:47, 27 January 2014 (UTC)

Changes to the lead[edit]

At its current state, the lead section has multiple issues:

  • It is extremely non-encyclopaedic (stating many subjective opinions, rather than facts).
  • It contains some too detailed pieces of information whose place is not in the lead.
  • It focuses too much on comparing German grammar to that of English.
  • It presents an unbalanced view, seemingly in order to support the implied message which is how complex German grammar is comparing to English.
  • The different pieces of information do not seem to follow a logical order and/or to connect with one another in order to form a coherent text.
  • There are some mistakes.

I have tried to address these issues by:

  • Stating facts, rather than opinions
  • Deleting some information which I deem irrelevant for the lead
  • Providing a broader context (focusing more on German grammar and less on how much more complex German grammar is than English, some comparisons to languages other than English)
  • Mentioning also things which are similar to English and/or which are regular
  • Correcting the mistakes

I personally think it's much better now than before. I also think there is still work to be done. (talk) 23:21, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

Tisches example[edit]

I'm trying to get my head around that sentence. I am a native English speaker trying to learn German. I note a suggestion from someone above to replace it with Der Mann (the man) Der Junge (the boy) Der Knochen (the bone) Der Hund (the dog)

I think this would be a good idea, but it does not fully explain the situation. This is alluded to here, but not resolved completely.

Firstly, if you exclude the genitive, then it appears to me that word order in German will make no difference. So you could have:

  • Der Mann gibt dem Jungen den Konchen
  • Der Mann gibt den Konchen dem Jungen
  • Den Konchen dem Jungen gibt der Mann
  • Den Konchen gibt der Mann dem Jungen
  • Dem Jungen der Mann gibt den Konchen
  • Dem Jungen den Konchen gibt der Mann

Which of these are valid sentences? (I don't know if I have placed the verb correctly or if the ending should be changed.) Regardless, it seems to me that all of these would still mean the man is giving the bone to the boy.

However, once you add a genitive, 3 possible situations could be formed:

  • The dog's man gives the bone to the boy.
  • The man gives the bone to the dog's boy.
  • The man gives the dog's bone to the boy.

OK, context determines everything, but I am guessing word order matters here in German, and it has to be possible to express all 3 of these situations in German. If this article is going to include this type of sentence, I think it also needs to include an explanation of the issue I have raised here.

I hope a native German speaker can explain this to readers and I am happy to update the article if you are not sure about the English side of things. (talk) 17:29, 17 January 2013 (UTC)

I am a native speaker. In your first example, you put the verb at the wrong place in a couple of places. All the permutations of the noun phrases are possible:

Der Mann gibt dem Jungen den Knochen Der Mann gibt den Knochen dem Junden Den Knochen gibt der Mann dem Jungen Den Knochen gibt dem Jungen der Mann Dem Jungen gibt der Mann den Knochen Dem Jungen gibt den Knochen der Mann

The genitive comes after the noun it refers to.

Der Mann gibt dem Jungen den Knochen des Hundes Der Mann gibt den Knochen des Hundes dem Jungen Den Knochen des Hundes gibt der Mann dem Jungen

and so on...

All meaning: The man is the giving the boy the dog's bone — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:05, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

The five alternative syntaxes exampled in the "Cases" subsection of "Nouns" are not equivalent to the original sentence[edit]

My German is very limited so I may be wrong, but the sentence:

Der Tisch gab dem Tisch(e) des Tisch(e)s den Tisch

Mean's that: "|the table|(sub.) gave |the table|(dir. obj.) to |the table of the table|(ind. obj.)". But the other five:

Der Tisch gab dem Tisch(e) den Tisch des Tisch(e)s.
Der Tisch gab des Tisch(e)s Tisch dem Tisch(e)
Den Tisch des Tisches gab dem Tisch der Tisch.
Dem Tisch(e) gab den Tisch des Tisch(e)s der Tisch.
Des Tisch(e)s Tisch gab dem Tisch(e) den Tisch.

All mean that: "|the table|(sub.) gave |the table of the table|(dir. obj.) to |the table|(ind. obj.)".

I am basing this on the assumption that (at least in cases where there would be ambiguity) the genitive "latches on" to the noun directly preceding it, or else is used in place of an article. I.e. "der/den/dem Tisch[e] des Tisch(e)s" or "des Tisch(e)s Tisch[e]" but not "des Tisch(e)s der/den/dem Tisch[e]". If I am wrong then none of the sentences can be translated with any certainty about whether the genitive table possesses the subject, the direct object or the indirect object.

If the offending sentence is replaced with the top one from the list of five then the problem is solved. And should it be felt that the remaining list is a little sparse thereafter with only four members, then the following Ersatz could (I think) be considered:

Der Tisch gab dem Tisch(e) des Tisch(e)s Tisch.

I am unwilling to make the changes myself, as I have only a very basic grasp of German grammar and way well be overlooking some clandestine nuance or other, but if anyone knows with certainty that what I have said above is true, please do correct it. And while your at it, you may want to drop in a sentence somewhere explaining that the added -e shown in brackets for the dative and genitive cases is archaic or whatever. R160K (talk) 08:23, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Yes, you're right. The five sentence do not mean the same as the example sentences. (I'm a native speaker.) The Genetive can be used as an object ("Genetivobjekt) or also as an attribute ("Genetivattribut"). In all example senctences with the "Tisch" it is used as an attribute. And in this function it is one phrase. The "Genetivattribut" kann be places in front or behind the describes noun, but when used before, the article of the describes noun disappears. (So it is "dem Tisch des Tisches", but "des Tisches Tisch".) Note that in modern German the Genetive behind the describes noun is very prefered. --Lehrann (talk) 22:39, 10 February 2013 (UTC)

premature claim of decline - genitive case[edit]

>>"das Auto meines Vaters "my father's car" is likely to sound odd in colloquial speech<< - thats wrong! ... "das auto meines vaters" is totally fine (and correct, anyway) in "colloquial" german. A person saying this with using the dative-case will sound utterly stupid/illeducated, like some englishspeaker saying "aight": "meinem Vater sein Auto" - thats awful! ... as soon as one theres the task to use it in a sentence, it can differ, though, from this correct (!) usage. e.g. hardly anyone will say "meines Vaters Auto" (correct use of the genitive case), if the context requires this succession; in that instance many speakers will resort to the degenerated form "meinem Vater sein Auto" (dative case - allready sounding odd. more common in south-germany, as the article points out correctly) or right away "Auto von meinem Vater" (dative case). essentially: the given example stands out more, if its more worked into the sentence that is spoken (which may make it mandatory to change the order -> "meines Vaters Auto"; depending on how complicated the sentence is constructed), and less if its standing rather alone (e.g. in case of a short answer: who's car is it? - my father's car!: "das Auto meines Vaters!"). also note, that the decline of the genitive, though it can be traced back many hundred years, is much more an ongoing process than the article implies. just some years ago a [popular science (?)] book got published with the title "Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod" (note that "dem genitiv sein Tod" is dative-case, while this would actually call for the genitive-case ("des Genitivs Tod")): "the dative[case] is the death of the genitive[case]". Its degeneration of our (I'm german) language IN PROCESS. People can very much understand the problem in this title, and still know that this is how many others actually speak. The higher a person is educated, the more its mandatory to still be able to fully apply the genitive (or atleast avoid the ill-use of the dative-case), what makes those, that come from regions with less practice in that usage, try to phrase sentences much different to avoid having to use the genitive-sense, to still make correct use of the other cases... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:06, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

Let's not say mandatory, but simply more likely. Incorrect speech is neither a sin nor a crime, not even an ordnungswidrigkeit; and dialects have their own beauties. - That said, I think school has failed (even Hauptschule) if someone passing from it cannot recognize and understand a genitive, or construct one if pressed to do so, or use it in writing. And I think that at least as far as the recognition and understanding, and for the rest from the level of Realschule above also the rest, school is still successful in-so-far.-- (talk) 21:53, 27 January 2014 (UTC)

German prepositions[edit]


This is just to say that I'm considering creating a completely new page for German prepositions, while not deleting the material here. I think that there's a need for a whole separate page as they really are a subject in themselves and deserve some examples, especially for ones like um that really don't sync directly to English words. Any comments on that please say. Blythwood (talk) 23:52, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

Does nominative still require expansion?[edit]

I came across a seven-year-old box indicating that the section on the nominative case still required expansion. Does it? As a German student, I found it rather complete. --XndrK (talk | contribs) 15:44, 6 June 2015 (UTC)


  • "However, since every German noun ending with -chen or -lein is grammatically neuter…": Drachen, Kuchen, and Knochen (for example) are masculine.
  • "For instance, nouns ending in the suffixes -heit, -keit, -ung, -tät, or -schaft are always feminine." Sprung is masculine (as well as Vorsprung, Ursprung and so on). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:18, 7 November 2015 (UTC)
Well, if we speak of -chen and -lein, in one breath even, we obviously mean the suffixes and not some words that just happen to end in these letters. As for the second, you can't even excuse yourself by "I was just nitpicking", since that quote actually does say explicitly that this is about suffixes. The ung in Sprung is not the suffix -ung, but the entire word is a derivate of springen.-- (talk) 21:40, 29 March 2016 (UTC)