Sunday, 1 July 2007

Cases: The Genitive Case

The genitive case is used to indicate possession, like of or apostrophe-s ('s) does in English. However, apart from in formal, written texts (and in its version of adding 's, which is just to add an s to the end of proper nouns), German tends to avoid the genitive. Most of the time in spoken German, Germans use a von plus the dative instead of a genitive to mean of. The genitive is unusual in German, because as well as affecting determiners (words like the and a) and adjectives, it also affects nouns, adding an -s (or -es) to the end of neuter and masculine nouns.

To listen to my podcast directly on your computer, click here.


Anonymous said...

I absolutely love your podcasts. Your insight in how to approach German grammar is outstanding. Please continue.

Laura said...

Thanks, js.

Jessica said...

Thank you for sharing your love of German Grammar. Having a background mainly in music, I am, what I would consider to be, a beginner student of German and your podcasts help to make it seem less fiercesome! I want to really make something of German and being just shy of 30 need all the really helpful help I can get. Thanks for making your info so accessible!

Laura said...

Thanks, Jessica. I've just finished writing my episode on the future tense and I'm hoping to get a chance to record it this week.

Anonymous said...


thanks for not shying away from German constructs that are almost never used such as the genitive personal pronouns! I guess I always had thought of them as short forms of "meiner/deiner/seiner/ihrer Person" (engl.: my/your/his/her person; note that "Person" is feminine). For example: "You remember me." would correspond to "You remember my person." which translates to "Du erinnerst dich meiner Person." which is never used but helped me to make sense of the form: "Du erinnerst dich meiner." (which is almost never used as you explained). But now I see that this doesn't work for the plural forms of the genitive personal pronouns. O well.

I think a famous text where a genitive personal pronoun is used is the German version of the Pater noster (or Lord's Prayer or Our Father). The most common German version starts like this:
"Vater unser im Himmel" (Our Father, which art in heaven). And in fact, the prayer is called "das Vaterunser" in German. There is also a version that starts "Unser Vater in dem Himmel", where "unser" is just a possessive determiner. Since the genitive personal pronoun and the possessive determiner are the same word here and the word order is rather arbitrary in this kind of text, the difference is quite hard to tell. Fortunately, the meaning is always the same. :)

One more comment about the transcript: the name "Ewa" exists in Germany but the much more common spelling is "Eva" (as in "Adam und Eva").



Anonymous said...

The link to this episode (Genetive Case) seems to be broken in iTunes and does not download.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this link, but unfortunately it seems to be down... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please answer to my post if you do!

I would appreciate if a staff member here at could post it.


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I have a inquiry for the webmaster/admin here at

May I use some of the information from this blog post right above if I provide a link back to this site?


Laura said...

Hi Mark,

Can you send me an email? I just want to check a couple of things with you. My email address is germangrammarpod "at"


Anonymous said...


This is a inquiry for the webmaster/admin here at

Can I use part of the information from your post right above if I provide a link back to this site?


Laura said...

Hi Charlie,

As I said above to Mark, if you want to use some of my information, please email me so I can check what you want it for.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing this link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at have a mirror or another source?


Laura said...

Hi Harry,

There is no mirror site. I've fixed the link so it works on my computer. Hopefully that's the problem solved. I use Internet Archive to store my podcasts, and sometimes they seem to change the links to them.


Anonymous said...

Hello there,

Thanks for sharing the link - but unfortunately it seems to be not working? Does anybody here at have a mirror or another source?


Eaalim said...

Great blog, Thanks.

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