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Understanding the Basics of German Cases

By Wendy Foster, Paulina Christensen, Anne Fox

Part of German All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

In grammar, cases indicate the role that nouns and pronouns play in a sentence. Case is important in German because four types of words — nouns, pronouns, articles, and adjectives — go through spelling changes according to the case they represent in a sentence. German has four cases: nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive. The following table breaks them down based on function.

Case Case Function
Nominative Used for the subject of a sentence
Used for predicate nouns
Accusative Used for the direct object of a sentence
Dative Used for the indirect object of a sentence
Genitive Used to show possession, ownership, or a close