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What is the Nominative case in German grammar and How to use German the nominative case ?

The nominative case is used for nouns that are the subject of a sentence. To find the subject of the sentence, ask yourself: who or what performs the action/who or what is doing the verb? The subject is "the doer" of the sentence. It is the basic form of a noun and can be a person or a thing. "Who or what is doing the verb?" Substitute the verb for "do" - Who or what is drinking?

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Nouns that follow verbs sein/werden/bleiben are often in nominative. This noun is rather a predicate and not the subject of the sentence.

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Nominative articles

Nominative articles are the original articles.

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Definite Article

Der Hund schläft.

Die Katze trinkt.

Das Auto parkt.

Die Kinder essen.

Indefinite Article

Ein Hund schläft.

Eine Katze trinkt.

Ein Auto parkt.

Keine Kinder essen.

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Quick Tip for Understanding the Nominative Case in German:

The Nominative case in German is primarily used for the subject of a sentence. Here's a quick tip to help you identify and use it correctly:

  • Spot the Subject: Look for the noun or pronoun in the sentence that performs the action or "does the verb." This is usually the subject and will be in the Nominative case.

    • Example: In "Der Hund bellt." (The dog barks.), "Der Hund" (The dog) is the subject in the Nominative case because it's performing the action (barking).

  • Check for Gender and Number: Pay attention to the gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) and number (singular or plural) of the Nominative noun. This affects the articles, adjectives, and verbs that accompany it.

    • Example: In "Die Katze ist klein." (The cat is small.), "Die Katze" (The cat) is feminine, singular, and in the Nominative case, so the article "die" and the adjective "klein" agree with it.

  • Practice with Pronouns: Practice using Nominative pronouns (ich, du, er, sie, es, wir, ihr, sie/Sie) as they always appear in the Nominative case and are helpful for recognizing the subject.

    • Example: In "Sie liest ein Buch." (She is reading a book.), "Sie" (She) is both the subject and a Nominative pronoun.

 

Remember that the Nominative case is not just about the subject; it's also used for predicate nouns (nominative predicate) that rename or describe the subject. With practice, you'll become more adept at identifying and using the Nominative case correctly in your German sentences.

Der Junge trinkt die Milch. The boy drinks the milk.

The boy is the subject, the one drinking the milk.

Die Sonne scheint. The sun is shining.

The sun is the subject, the one shining.

Das Auto fährt schnell. The car drives fast.

The car is the subject, the one driving fast.

Die Eltern kaufen Brot. The parents buy bread.

The parents are the subject, the ones buying the bread.

Die Frau fliegt nach Berlin. The woman flies to Berlin.
The woman is the subject, the one flying to Berlin.


Der Hund schläft unter dem Tisch. The dog sleeps under the table.
The dog is the subject, the one sleeping under the table.

 

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Personal pronouns replace nouns that have already been referred to. In German grammar, personal pronouns are declined according to the case they are in. We use personal pronouns to talk about ourselves and to address other people.

The pronoun must agree in gender and number with the word it replaces.

For example, you could say: Der Mann kauft ein Auto. Der Mann muss nicht mehr mit dem Bus fahren. The man buys a car. The man no longer has to take the bus.

 

But if the noun repeats itself, it would be simpler and more natural to say: Der Mann kauft ein Auto. Er muss nicht mehr mit dem Bus fahren. The man buys a car. He no longer has to take the bus.

Nominative personal pronouns

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masc.

fem.

neut.

pl.

Nominative

articles

der

die

das

die (pl.)

Nominative

personal pronouns

er

sie

es

sie

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Der Junge trinkt die Milch. Der Junge isst auch einen Keks. The boy drinks the milk. The boy also eats a cookie.

Der Junge trinkt die Milch. Er isst auch einen Keks. The boy drinks the milk. He also eats a cookie.

Die Sonne scheint. Die Sonne ist sehr warm heute. The sun is shining. The sun is very warm today.

Die Sonne scheint. Sie ist sehr warm heute. The sun is shining. It is very warm today.

Das Auto fährt schnell. Das Auto ist rot. The car drives fast. The car is red.

Das Auto fährt schnell. Es ist rot. The car drives fast. It is red.

Die Eltern kaufen Brot. Die Eltern kaufen auch Gemüse. The parents buy bread. The parents also buy vegetables.

Die Eltern kaufen Brot. Sie kaufen auch Gemüse. The parents buy bread. They also buy vegetables.

Die Frau fliegt nach Berlin. Die Frau hat Flugangst. The woman flies to Berlin. The woman is afraid of flying.

Die Frau fliegt nach Berlin. Sie hat Flugangst. The woman flies to Berlin. She is afraid of flying.


Der Hund schläft unter dem Tisch. Der Hund schnarcht. The dog sleeps under the table. The dog snores.

Der Hund schläft unter dem Tisch. Er schnarcht. The dog sleeps under the table. He snores.

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