Cases in Deutsch

Reply Fri 25 Feb, 2005 02:55 pm
My German Teacher set a challenge: If anyone in the class was able to understand what Cases are, he would eat everything on his desk. I'm not sure he'll actually eat his desk but I'm curious as to what cases really are. Can anyone enlighten me?
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Reply Fri 25 Feb, 2005 03:03 pm
The Four German Cases

| Nominative | Accusative | Dative | Genitive
Werfall | Wenfall | Wemfall | Wesfall
Nominativ | Akkusativ | Dativ | Genitiv

Just a guess!
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Reply Fri 25 Feb, 2005 05:26 pm
This is a complex topic, especially for a person who hasn't been introduced to them before. Cases apply to nouns and anything associated with nouns (pronouns, adjectives, & articles). For simplicity, think of a verb and how it is conjugated for different contexts (I, you, past, future, etc.). Cases are used to "conjugate" nouns so to speak, depending on how they are used in the sentence (I know, it's icky, but you get used to it just like anything).

But, instead of using the word conjugate, we say decline. It is said that a noun declines in languages like Latin and German (and lots of others). In Latin there are 5 cases and in German there are 4 cases. You will decide which case to use based on how the noun is used in the sentence.

Here are the German cases as mentioned by Francis, and some quick guidelines:

Used when the noun is the subject of the sentence

Used when the noun is the direct object of the sentence

Used when the noun is the indirect object of the sentence

Used to show possession.

Again, this just a quick overview. There will be some exceptions to the above of course, but you can rely on the above as a foundation for learning these cases.

Quick Examples (subject in bold, direct object in italics):

The man reads the book.
The woman has a computer.

Although it's hard to see the cases in English, they do exist (we have subjective cases and objective cases). At the very least we know how to distinguish between the subject and the direct object. So when we translate into German, we must first decide what function each noun has in the sentence, then choose the appropriate case.

Since The man and The woman are the subjects they will be translated using the nominative case. Since the book and a computer are direct objects they will be translated using the accusative case.

Der Mann liest das Buch.
Die Frau hat einen Computer.

But if you switch around the subject/DOs you can see how they change based on function (just pretend it makes sense :wink:):

Das Buch liest den Mann (The book reads the man).
Ein Computer hat die Frau (A computer has the woman).

Notice the change of der to den, and einen to ein. This is happening because the articles (and nouns, even though it's harder to tell) are responding to the case change.

Here's the definite article (a.k.a the word "the") declined in all its cases (to give you an example of how much more you have to memorize in a language with cases:

Format: masculine / feminine / neuter / plural

Nominative: der / die / das / die
Accusative: den / die / das / die
Dative: dem / der / dem / den
Genitive: des / der / des / der

Some final examples (for the masculine noun Hund = dog):

Nom: The dog is very pretty: Der Hund ist sehr schön.
Acc: The man has the dog: Der Mann hat den Hund.
Dat: He speaks to the dog: Er spricht mit dem Hund.
Gen: That is the dog's bed: Das ist das Bett des Hunds.

Ok, there's a lot more to it than that, but hopefully that'll help you out in getting the basics down. Cheers! Smile Oh, and if you manage to make him eat the things on his desk, don't forget to take a picture...very useful for blackmail purposes j/k Razz
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Duke of Lancaster
Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 04:06 am
yes, German has four sexes, in other words. Funny, isn't it? Laughing
Listen up....if anyone decides to learn German, they need to start young......otherwise you're going have a hard time.

Auf Wiedersehen :wink:
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Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 05:33 am
Duke of Lancaster wrote:
yes, German has four sexes, in other words.

Wo wo wo hold your horses don't say that!!

German has three genders: feminine, masculine and neuter

This is something completely different to cases!!! Don't confuse them!
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Duke of Lancaster
Reply Sun 27 Feb, 2005 11:55 pm
YES! THANK YOU....It's only 3, sorry
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Reply Mon 28 Feb, 2005 11:24 am
Bekaboo wrote:
German has three genders: feminine, masculine and neuter

That's true, although, in German, the plural acts like a gender.

And please: grammar has genders, humans have sexes.

As for Germans having three sexes, I saw "I Am My Own Wife" last week, so I'm openminded on the subject.
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Reply Mon 28 Feb, 2005 11:35 pm
Good point, plural basically is a fourth "gender"... since German doesn't have a plural masc, plural fem, and plural neuter like Latin - just one plural for all of them. But no we don't call it a specific gender.
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