Who or What is Declension?

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A Case of Declension

"Declension" means that in some languages like German, nouns like rose (Rose), man (Mann), cucumber (Gurke), or platopus (Schnabeltier), change their form depending on what function they have in a sentence - or, in grammatical terms - what "case" they stand in. You can find out by asking: Who, What, Whom, Whose... Then you have to learn the right forms for each case, and you're ready to go.
Let me explain how to identify cases by using questions. If you ask "Who or What?" for example, the case is nominative.


Examples:

The platopus is swimming in the lake. Question: WHO oder WHAT is swimming in the lake? Antwort: THE PLATOPUS


Now we know that in this sentence, "the platopus" is nominative.





A "case" is the function a noun has within a sentence. If words were actors, we could say the "case" is the role each word plays. The nominative plays the main part. The genitive shows whose problem, whose question, or whose identity we are talking about. The dative shows who we are doing something with, or who we are giving something to, while the accusative shows whom we love.


But why do we need to know this? In some languages like English, the form of the noun does not change according to what case it stands in, but if you study German you have to learn about "declension" in order to use the right form. It is like giving nouns the right shape so they fit into the jigsaw puzzle of a sentence. The article der, die, das also changes, as does the adjective in front of the noun.

The 4 German Cases

The German language has 4 cases: Nominative (Who?) , Genitive (Whose?), Dative (to, with etc. Whom?), and Accusative (Whom?).
To learn about each of them, please read the individual grammar articles and learn how to speak German PROPERLY - just in CASE!