The German Cases

Guten Tag!

I am a student studying French and German at a university here in the US. Thus far, I am passing all of my language courses with flying colors; however, the cases in German are consistently my only downfall on exams and orals. I am afraid even with my textbook, German instructor, and an endless supply of articles on the internet, I still can't make it stick. Any more experienced German learners out there with resources and advice to give me?

Vielen Dank, meine Freunde!

April 13, 2017


Think of cases as costumes for the words. The words, like actors, play a role in each sentence; their costume has to fit the role.

April 14, 2017

Nice metaphor

April 14, 2017

I have a lengthy explanation of German cases that I wrote up and is floating around in various forms in different forum posts on here.

Here, this is the first one I found when I went looking. Rather than re-post here, I'll just link to the original. It's the first response:

Hope that helps somewhat

April 13, 2017

This does indeed help. I printed & wrote notes on it today. Combine it with @Chaered's ideas of costumes; actors doing the acting & being acting upon instead of the big technical words (the -atives) and we could really get somewhere! :)

April 15, 2017

Hallo! I had a break-through when I realised that certain letters are repeated throughout the paradigms.

Example I: The letter n is repeated in masculine accusative forms. Articles: einen, den. Possessives: meinen, deinen, seinen etc. Object pronoun: ihn. Adjectives: schönen, kleinen etc.

Example II: The letter r is repeated in feminine dative forms. Articles: einer, der. Possessives: meiner, deiner, seiner etc. Indirect object pronoun: ihr. This does not work on adjectives though.

Look for patterns and regularities. Here is something to help you. Viel Glück! :)

April 14, 2017

That is fantastic! :D :D

April 14, 2017

These are just two examples. Study the paradigms and you will find more. :)

April 14, 2017

I am hoping this is not just unique to me and maybe it is common to all native language speakers attempting to learn different languages, but terminology & meaning of parts of language themselves are my continual stumbling block learning any language. Was this just not taught in school, as it is not learned natively, or was I just not paying attention (very possible)?

For example, "dative" or "accusative" or "nomative" or any of the "-atives"? They might just well be written in Chinese on a blackboard on the moon, as they just don't stick no matter what language I am [attempting feebly] to learn. Do native Spanish or German or French speakers learn this stuff, or only when you are learning a non-native language do they come up?

This would be a great Duolingo Course in itself, "Learning Languages" not just "Learning a Language".

I keep having to turn to resources outside Duo to find the "entire" lesson for each lesson section - a lesson gives 3-4 conjugations, then the next lesson skips to another word (or wastes our time - mostly in the matching with 4 of the pairs from 20 lessons prior and nothing to do with the current lesson).

Dative Pronouns is my best example, but the "W-words" are another such example that dominates "strengthening", but was only "partially" taught.

April 14, 2017

my method would be to just root learn the German case tables (e.g. by repeatedly writing them down a couple of times), e.g. just before an examination.

April 14, 2017

Here is a basic method. Put "who/what" before the verb and that gives you the subject =Nominative. "who/what" after the verb gives you the object = Accusative. The dative then , is what comes after the (first) object , EXTRA Information if you like. e.g. to whom do you give etc... (just my attempt).

April 16, 2017

The four cases . Die vier Fälle Der Mann gibt seinem Sohn den Regenschirm seiner Frau.............

Der Mann Nomitiv - the person doing the action. .............. seinem Sohn - to his son - dative - the receiver............... den Regenschirm - the umbrella - accusative - the object..............
seiner Frau - of his wife - genitive - possession .........

So in English: The man gives to his son the umbrella of his wife ........... The man gives his wife's umbrella to the son................

Dative is also used for in a place , and Accusative for moment, where English uses words like in and into . also on and onto ..........

Der Mann rennt in der Küche - The man runs in the kitchen dative ......... Der Mann rennt in die Küche - The man runs into the kitchen accusative.............. .

There are also dative verbs and accusative verbs as well as propositions that have to memorised.

April 14, 2017
Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.