top of page

In German grammar, a subject is an essential element of a sentence that performs the action or is the main focus of the sentence.

It typically refers to the person or thing that is doing the action or being described. what does that really mean? Lets have a closer look at subject in german grammar.

The subject is usually a noun or pronoun and is often located at the beginning of the sentence. The subject is important and must agree with the verb in terms of person and number. 

English: I sing, you sing, She sings.

German: ich singe, du singst, Sie singt.

In German, the verb "singen" (to sing) has different endings depending on the pronouns used for singular and plural subjects. The pronouns "ich" (I), "du" (you), "er" (he), "sie" (she), and "es" (it) are used for singular subjects, while "wir" (we), "ihr" (you), "Sie" (formal you), and "sie" (they) are used for plural subjects.


"Who or what is performing the action of the verb" - the subject

  1. Wer spielt Fußball? (Who is playing football?) - Max spielt Fußball. (Max is playing football.) Subject: Max

  2. Was isst du gerne? (What do you like to eat?) - Ich esse gerne Pizza. (I like to eat pizza.) Subject: Ich (I)

  3. Wer hat den Brief geschrieben? (Who wrote the letter?) - Sarah hat den Brief geschrieben. (Sarah wrote the letter.) Subject: Sarah

  4. Wer singt dieses Lied? (Who is singing this song?) - Die Band singt dieses Lied. (The band is singing this song.) Subject: Die Band (The band)

  5. Was macht der Hund? (What is the dog doing?) - Der Hund spielt im Park. (The dog is playing in the park.) Subject: Der Hund (The dog)

In these examples, the subject is simply the person or thing that is doing the action in the sentence. We can find the subject by asking the question "Who or what is performing the action of the verb?" Knowing the subject helps us figure out who or what the sentence is talking about, and it also affects how the verb is used in German. The verb form and agreement depend on the subject, so understanding the subject is also important for using the correct verb form in German.

The term "nominative" refers to a grammatical case used to identify the subject of a sentence. When a word is in the nominative case, it typically takes its base or dictionary form, some teacher refer to it as the "Original form". This means that the word remains unchanged in its regular form.

In the German sentence "Der Hund bellt" (The dog barks), "Der Hund" (The dog) is in the nominative case because the dog is performing the action of the verb. It stays in its regular form without any changes of articles or pronouns.

Articles used for the subject in the nominative case are known as the "nominative articles" or "original articles." These articles remain unchanged when used in the nominative case, regardless of the gender or number of the noun.

They are referred to as the "original" or "nominative" articles because they represent the standard forms used for subjects in this case.

Nominative articles_.jpg

Original articles used for subjects in the nominative case.

_Der Hund bellt..jpg
Nominative articles sentences.jpg

The case system in German grammar is important because it provides valuable information about the roles and relationships of words within a sentence. It helps to determine the function of nouns, pronouns, and articles in relation to the verb and other sentence components. The case system in German allows for more precise communication and provides clarity in sentence structure.

English does not have a comprehensive case system like German. While English does have remnants of cases, such as the subjective (nominative) and objective (accusative) cases in pronouns (e.g., "I" vs. "me"), it does not have a consistent system of noun declension or widespread use of cases for all nouns, pronouns, and articles.

In English, word order and prepositions often play a more prominent role in indicating the relationships between words in a sentence. Understanding and utilizing the case system in German is crucial for proper grammatical agreement, comprehension, and effective communication in the language.

In German, nouns, pronouns, and articles can change their forms depending on the case they appear in. When a word is in the nominative case, it typically takes its base or dictionary form. This means that the word remains unchanged in its regular form.

  1. Definition: The subject is the person or thing that performs the action or is being described in a sentence. It is usually a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase.

  2. Subject-Verb Agreement: In German, the subject and the verb must agree in terms of number and person. This means that the verb form changes based on whether the subject is singular or plural, and whether it is in the first, second, or third person.

  3. Position in the Sentence: In declarative sentences, the subject typically comes before the verb. However, in questions, commands, or subordinate clauses, the word order may vary.

  4. Nominative Case: The subject in German is usually in the nominative case. Nouns, pronouns, and adjectives that function as the subject take on the appropriate nominative case endings.

  5. Subject Pronouns: The most common subject pronouns in German are "ich" (I), "du" (you), "er" (he), "sie" (she), "es" (it), "wir" (we), "ihr" (you, plural), and "sie" (they).

  6. Subject-Verb Inversion: In certain situations, such as starting a sentence with an adverbial phrase or using a dependent clause as the subject, the subject and verb may be inverted. For Example "Im Garten spielen die Kinder."  In this sentence, the adverbial Phrase "Im Garten (In the garden) is placed at the beginning, causing the subject "die Kinder" (the children) and the verb "spielen" (are playing) to be inverted.



Understanding the subject is crucial for forming grammatically correct sentences in German. It helps you convey who or what is performing the action and ensures proper agreement between the subject and the verb. Practice constructing sentences and identifying subjects in various contexts to strengthen your grasp of this important grammatical concept.

bottom of page