There are a few things we need to know before we can fully understand the wonderful German cases.
1. German nouns have genders
If we think back to our online German lessons about German nouns, you will remember that they have a gender. For example: der Mann, die Katze, das Auto
2. The article of a German noun changes depending on whether it is a subject, object, direct object or indirect object. This can help us know which case to use....
Let's take a closer look:
The nominative case is used for the subject of a sentence. The subject is the person who performs the action. For example, in the sentence "Der Mann kauft das Wasser", "der Mann" is the subject.
The accusative case is the case for direct objects. The direct object is the person or thing that receives the action. For example, if we take the same sentence as above, "das Wasser" is the direct object because it was bought. It will therefore be in the accusative.
The dative case is for indirect objects. The indirect object is the person who receives the direct object. For example: "Der Mann kauft der Frau das Wasser". Here the woman is the indirect object because she receives the water.
The genitive case expresses possession. In English, we indicate possession with apostrophes, e.g. "The woman´s water" or simply put "the water of the woman".
Did you understand the basics?
As with most rules of German grammar, a table can be very helpful!
It makes learning the German cases much easier. It also helps to say them out loud because then you get a rhythm to them.
This is a table for the definite and indefinite articles in the Nominative and Accusative case. The masculine articles are changing from der to den, ein to einen.
And now some examples!
Der alte Mann und sein Hund essen Bratwurst. - The old man and his dog eat bratwurst.
Die Frau hört Musik. - The woman listens to music.
As you can see from the table, only the masculine form changes in the accusative. The rest remains the same as in the nominative.
Die Kinder essen einen Apfel. - The children eat an apple.
Ich esse ein Stück Kuchen. - I eat a piece of cake.
Der Mann liebt die Frau. The man loves the woman - The man loves the woman, or the opposite: Die Frau liebt den Mann. The woman loves the man.
Ich werde dir eine Email schicken. - I will send you the e-mail.
Here, "dir" is the indirect object in the dative, and "eine Email" becomes the direct object in the accusative.
Der Lehrer gibt dem Studenten ein Buch. - The teacher gives the student a book.
There are three German cases here. The teacher, the subject in the nominative case. He gives the student the book = the indirect object and the dative. What does he give the student? A book, the direct object in the accusative. Who receives the book? The student - dative case.
Ich dankte den Kindern. - I thanked the children.
I thanked the children = "the children" are the indirect object and are therefore in the dative. Wichtig: danken is a dative verb and takes dative case. All articles in dative are changing and the nouns in the dative plural also get an extra n at the end.
If you have read through this and understood the rules about the German cases, then you have definitely already conquered the German cases. However, this was just a taste of the grammar concepts that can be communicated when learning the language. Want to learn more? Take a look at our next German courses and find out which courses we offer for your level and availability!
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German private lessons and groups courses!
With the tips given so far, you can make your own contribution to your learning progress. However, you are not completely on your own. Simply ask us at GermanMind for support. Together, we can work out a learning plan that focuses not only on vocabulary and grammar, but also on pronunciation. The great thing about our private lessons and very small group courses is that you can always ask again if you are not quite sure about something.
Practice makes perfect! Our last tip is therefore: practice, practice, practice! And do it regularly! It's better to learn every day for a shorter period of time than to have a strenuous learning day once a week. With shorter learning units, you will be able to remember what you have learned better and make much faster progress.
If you only want to take one tip to improve your pronunciation, it should be the following:
It is often said that people with a musical ear learn languages faster. Why? Because they really listen! It's about re-educating your ear. And now it has to get used to new sounds and rhythms.
We have summarised the simple and often fun methods for you:
Watch German films and series in the original, with or without German subtitles
Listen to German radio stations
Listen to German podcasts and audio books
Listen to many German songs and learn them by heart if you like them
Speak regularly with native German speakers
Why you should improve your German pronunciation
German pronunciation is quite simple! Unlike French, for example, German is spoken the way it is written. You will often hear this statement when you start learning German.
But why should you even bother to put so much time and energy into German pronunciation exercises?
There are many good reasons to work on your pronunciation. Many have to do with living in Germany - the most important ones are:
You will be better understood, which is very important, especially if you have a job interview, have to talk on the phone or want to meet new people.
- You also understand better what is said to you: better pronunciation is closely linked to better hearing of sounds.
As a result, you will soon be able to decipher regional dialects better
You'll be less likely to get into embarrassing situations and misunderstandings,
Your identity changes, because a new way of speaking is created by a new physical process, which means that your voice will take on a sound of its own when you speak German. You will feel less foreign and your relationship with Germany will be positively affected.
If you want to move to Germany and aim for a good language level, improved pronunciation is definitely part of it.
The German language requires a lot of stress when pronouncing syllables. On the contrary, unstressed syllables are formed very loosely.
This is why the German language is so rich in contrast and less melodic compared to the French and Russian languages. Native speakers who transfer their own melody to German are therefore often very poorly understood.
If you want to speak German without an accent, your lips also have to become very active and your tongue has to work with a lot of force. This is also unusual and must first be trained!
If you want to improve your German pronunciation, you need to practise new mouth movements and new speech tensions. In order for the whole thing to become automatic, you can't get past repetition. Now it's time to practice, practice, practice!
Why don't you go to our TIMETABLE and take a look at our German courses?