Declension (Overview)
Nominative
Genitive
Dative
Accusative


Who or What is Nominative?

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What is Nominative?

The nominative case is the first of four German cases.

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 nominative question is: "Wer?" oder "Was?" ("Who or What?")


Example:

Brad Pitt plays the hero.
Question: WHO plays the hero?
Answer: BRAD PITT


In this sentence, Brad Pitt is nominative and plays the main part.

This chart shows what different nouns, articles, and adjectives look like in the nominative case. Below the chart you will find an explanation of how to get there.

 definite articleindefinite article
masculine   der schöne Hund ein schöner Hund
feminine   die schöne Katzeeine schöne Katze
neutral   das niedliche Schnabeltierein niedliches Schnabeltier
plural   die schönen Hundeschöne Hunde


How to Form the Nominative

To know what form a noun takes, we need to know whether it is masculine, feminine, or neutral, plural, or singular.

The nominative case is the "normal case" that shows us whether a noun is masculine, feminine, or neutral, because in the nominative singular, the following rule counts:

Der=masculine, Die=feminine, Das=neutral


Example:

der Honig (the honey) = masculine | die Marmelade (the jam) = feminine | das Brot (the bread) = neutral



In German, it is not always logical what nouns are masculine, feminine, and neutral. "Why do Germans say "DAS Mädchen", "DIE Zeitschrift" and "DER Tisch"? Is there any reason, girls should be neutral, magazines feminine, and tables masculine? But let's not waste more time. Get memorizing!


Examples:

Der Hund verfolgt mich. - The dog is following me.
WHO or WHAT is following me? This is a clear nominative question.
Answer: DER HUND - THE DOG


In the nominative case, there are no changes in the noun and no changes in the article.






Further Examples:

Die Hunde verfolgen mich. - The dogs are following me.
WHO or WHAT is following me? DIE HUNDE - THE DOGS

Eine Erbse pikte die Prinzessin. - A pea pricked the princess.
WHO or WHAT pricked the princess? EINE ERBSE - A PEA

Erbsen schmecken lecker. - Peas taste good.
WER oder WAS schmeckt lecker? ERBSEN - PEAS

Other Words that Change: Articles, Adjectives, Pronouns

All other words that belong to the noun need to change together with the noun.


Example:

Mein Arm tut weh. - My arm hurts.
WHO or WHAT hurts? MEIN ARM. - MY ARM
MEIN ARM: nominative, masculine, singular


The word "MEIN" (my) needs to match the word "ARM" (arm). Just like "ARM", "MEIN" needs to be nominative, masculine, and singular.


Example:

Meine Arme tun weh. - My arms hurt.
WHO or WHAT hurts? MEINE ARME
MEINE ARME: nominative, masculine, plural




In this example, you can see that in the plural form, both words have changed. Instead of "MEIN" we now say "MEINE", and instead of "ARM", we now say "ARME".

Sometimes, even more words belong to a single noun.


Example:

Mein schmerzender Arm machte mir zu schaffen. - My sore arm was bothering me.
WHO or WHAT was bothering me? MEIN SCHMERZENDER ARM - MY SORE ARM
MEIN SCHMERZENDER ARM: nominativ, masculine, singular


All three words are nominative, masculine, and singular and fit together. "MEIN" is a pronoun, "SCHMERZEND" is an adjective, and "ARM" is a noun.


Ihre roten Wangen sahen hübsch aus. - Her red cheeks looked pretty.
WHO or WHAT looked pretty? IHRE ROTEN WANGEN - HER RED CHEEKS
IHRE ROTEN WANGEN: nominative, feminine, plural


Once again, all three words fit together. All of them are now nominative, feminine, and plural.

Declension (Overview)
Nominative
Genitive
Dative
Accusative