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Published on February 24, 2008

Author: Megane

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MLG 1001: Grammar Lectures:  MLG 1001: Grammar Lectures Lecture 3: The German Case System 3.1 German case system:  3.1 German case system Every European language uses different parts of speech in a sentence. In a German sentence these parts of speech are clearly marked by case endings. They help to distinguish between the active part of the sentence (the SUBJECT) and the parts affected by the action (OBJECTS). 3.2 Nominative case:  3.2 Nominative case The subject of a clause is normally the active part i.e. the part that performs an act. The subject of a clause is said to be in the nominative case. Example: Der Junge schreibt (The boy (= SUBJECT in the nominative case) is writing). 3.3 (In-)transitive verbs:  3.3 (In-)transitive verbs The part of the clause that links the subject to an object is the VERB. Verbs that take an object are called TRANSITIVE verbs. Example: He opened the door. Not all verbs however can take an object. Verbs that do not take an object are called INTRANSITIVE verbs. Example: They arrived (i.e. you cannot “arrive” something!). 3.4 (In-)transitive verbs (2):  3.4 (In-)transitive verbs (2) You must therefore take care to select the correct type of verb when looking up words in a German dictionary! See “to grow”: Intransitive (vi): Ihre Pflanze wächst nicht. (= Her plant is not growing.) Transitive (vt): Sie züchtet gern Pflanzen. (= She likes growing plants.) 3.5 (In-)transitive verbs (3):  3.5 (In-)transitive verbs (3) “To leave” causes problems for students: Intransitive (vi): Der Zug fährt ab. (= The train leaves.) Der Zug fährt vom Bahnhof ab. (= The train leaves the station.) Transitive (vt): Sie verlässt das Haus. (= She leaves the house.) 3.6 Sein, werden, bleiben:  3.6 Sein, werden, bleiben Note too that when the verbs sein, bleiben werden and scheinen are followed by nouns, these nouns are in the NOMINATIVE case: Er ist ein guter Lehrer (not: “einen guten”) Alpay bleibt der beste Spieler (not: “den ”) Ulf wird mein Freund (not: “meinen...”) Er scheint ein guter Mensch (not: “einen”) 3.7 Accusative case:  3.7 Accusative case The direct object in a clause is the noun or pronoun that is affected “directly” by the subject of the verb. The direct object is in the accusative case. “Der Junge schreibt den/einen Brief” (The boy is writing the/a letter) (= DIRECT OBJECT in accusative case). 3.8 English Accusative:  3.8 English Accusative In English there are no special case endings for the accusative - the / a remain the same in both the nominative and accusative cases. English merely retains some nominative pronouns: I (acc. me), we (acc. us) etc. The direct object can however be easily identified by its position in the clause - it will always come after the subject. 3.9 German Accusative:  3.9 German Accusative In German objects can precede or follow the subject. It is the case endings and the verb endings that tell us which case is which: Der Hund sah die Katzen. (The dog saw the cats.) Den Hund sahen die Katzen. (The cats saw the dog.) 3.10 Verbs + Direct Object:  3.10 Verbs + Direct Object German verbs that take a direct object are listed in German dictionaries as transitive (vt) or are indicated by jdn. / etw. (short for jemanden / etwas (= acc. someone / -thing). There can be only 1 direct object per clause: Ich verstehe dich leider nicht! Sonja ruft ihren Bruder an. 3.11 Verbs: 2 Direct Objects:  3.11 Verbs: 2 Direct Objects BUT these verbs can take 2 direct objects: kosten: Das hat mich 1000 Euro gekostet lehren: Er hat ihn Deutsch gelehrt nennen: Ich nenne dich einen Lügner fragen: Hast du sie etwas gefragt? bitten: Das möchte ich Sie bitten! angehen: Das geht dich nichts an! 3.12 The prefix be-:  3.12 The prefix be- The prefix be- turns an intransitive verb into a transitive verb taking a direct object: bezahlen: Das bezahle ich! (= to pay for) bestellen: Ich bestelle das Buch (= to order) besteigen: Er bestieg den Berg (= to climb) One key exception! = begegnen + Dative e.g. Wir begegnen ihm (= We meet him) 3.13 Verbs with(-out) be-:  3.13 Verbs with(-out) be- beantworten: Sie beantwortete die Frage (= to answer (+ Acc.)) bedienen: Ich bediene die Kundin (= serve) bedrohen: Bedrohst du mich? (= threaten) beenden: Sie beenden den Streik (= to end) antworten: Antwortet er auf meine Frage? (= to answer (+ Prep.)) dienen: Sie dienen dem König (+ Dative) drohen: Drohst du mir? (+ Dative) enden: Der Streik endet (= Intransitive) 3.14 Key accusatives:  3.14 Key accusatives Students tend to forget that the following constructions require a direct object: bezahlen: Wer bezahlt den Schaden? (pay for the damage  NOT “bezahlen für”) es gibt: Es gibt einen Gott! (= There is...) fragen: Ich fragte den Chef nach Arbeit. (= I asked the boss if there was any work.) 3.15 Dative case:  3.15 Dative case The indirect object in a clause is the noun or pronoun that is affected “indirectly” by the subject of the verb. The indirect object is in the dative case. “Der Junge schreibt dem/einem Direktor” (The boy is writing to the/a headmaster) (= INDIRECT OBJECT in the dative case). 3.16 Dative singular endings:  3.16 Dative singular endings The -e dative ending on singular masculine and neuter (monosyllabic) nouns remains nowadays only in a few set phrases: zu Hause, nach Hause auf dem Lande (in the country) im Jahre 2004 im Laufe des Jahres (in the course of...) in gewissem Maße (to a certain extent) 3.17 Dative plural endings:  3.17 Dative plural endings Nouns in the dative plural add -n...: die Stühle (Nom.)  den Stühlen (Dat.) die Dörfer (Nom.)  den Dörfern (Dat.) …except if the plural already ends in -n: die Frauen (Nom.)  den Frauen (Dat.) …or if the nom. plural ends in -s: die Autos (Nom.)  den Autos (Dat.) 3.18 Verbs + Dative:  3.18 Verbs + Dative A number of verbs in German take an dative object as opposed to a direct object. These have no direct equivalent in English, although some can be grouped together: abraten: Sie hat ihm davon abgeraten (= She advised him against it) raten: Sie hat ihm geraten, etwas zu tun (= She advised him to do something) 3.19 Dative: answering:  3.19 Dative: answering antworten: Antworten Sie mir! (= Answer me!) BUT: Antworten Sie auf die Frage! (= Answer the question!) entgegnen: Er entgegnet dem Mann, dass… (= He replies to the man that...) erwidern: Sie erwiderte dem Richter, dass... (= She replied to the judge that...) 3.20 Dative: helping:  3.20 Dative: helping beistehen: Meine Freunde stehen mir bei (= My friends are giving me support) dienen: Er diente der Königin von England (= He served the queen of England) helfen: Könnten Sie mir helfen ? (= Could you help me?) nützen: Der Rat nützt ihnen nicht viel (= The advice doesn’t help them much) 3.21 Dative: (dis-)obeying:  3.21 Dative: (dis-)obeying folgen: Folgen Sie mir bitte! (= Follow me please!) gehorchen: Das Kind gehorcht seinem Vater (= The child obeys its father) widersprechen: Du hast ihm widersprochen (= You disobeyed him) widerstehen: Wir widerstehen dem Zauber (= We’re resisting the magic) 3.22 Dative: (dis-)liking:  3.22 Dative: (dis-)liking gefallen: Die Sache gefällt mir nicht! (= I don’t like this at all!) missfallen: Der Film missfällt den Kritikern (= The critics don’t like the new film) schmecken: Pizza schmeckt allen Kindern (= All children like pizza) (N.B. Note the sentence constructions!) 3.23 Dative: (mis-)trusting:  3.23 Dative: (mis-)trusting glauben: Natürlich glaube ich dir! (= Of course I believe you!) misstrauen: Pia misstraut ihrem Gedächtnis (= Pia mistrusts her memory) trauen: Tony Blair traute dem Frieden nicht (= Tony Blair was wary of the peace) vertrauen: Ich vertraue meiner Sekretärin (= I trust my secretary) 3.24 Dative: hurting:  3.24 Dative: hurting fehlen: Du fehlst mir sehr, Schatz! (= I miss you a lot, darling!) Leid tun: Das tut mir wirklich Leid (= I’m really sorry about that) schaden: Der Lärm schadet dem Menschen (= Noise damages the individual) wehtun: Er hat ihr sehr weh getan (= He caused her a lot of pain) 3.25 Dative: resembling:  3.25 Dative: resembling ähneln: Er ähnelt seinem Bruder (= He resembles his brother) entsprechen: Das entspricht den Tatsachen (= This corresponds to the facts) gleichen: Jeder Tag gleicht dem anderen (= Every day is like the next) 3.26 Dative Verbs: General:  3.26 Dative Verbs: General befehlen: Er befiehlt mir, das nicht zu tun (= He orders me not to do it.) danken: Ich danke Ihnen sehr dafür! (= I thank you very much for this!) einfallen: Das ist mir nicht eingefallen! (=That didn’t occur to me!) gehören: Der BMW gehört ihr gar nicht (= The BMW doesn’t belong to her at all) 3.27 Dative Verbs: Gen. (2):  3.27 Dative Verbs: Gen. (2) gelingen: Das ist ihr nicht gelungen (= She didn’t succeed in this) genügen: Das genügt mir eigentlich (= That’s enough for me actually) gratulieren: Er gratuliert dir zum Geburtstag (= He congratulates you on your birthday) verzeihen: Könnt ihr mir verzeihen? (= Can you forgive me?) 3.28 Dative & accusative:  3.28 Dative & accusative There are a number of transitive verbs which take both an accusative or direct object and a dative or indirect object. As a general rule, the direct object is usually a thing. This thing is being taken from or given to a person who is the indirect object (i.e. is in the dative case). 3.29 Dative & acc.: giving:  3.29 Dative & acc.: giving anbieten: Sie bieten mir eine Stelle an (= They’re offering me a job) bringen: Er bringt ihr einen Blumenstrauß (= He brings her a bunch of flowers) geben: Julia gab dem Lehrer einen Apfel (= Julia gave the teacher an apple) leihen: Kannst du mir zwanzig Euro leihen? (= Can you lend me twenty euros?) 3.30 Dative & acc.: taking:  3.30 Dative & acc.: taking entziehen: Man entzog ihr den Führerschein (= They took her driving licence away) nehmen: Sie nahm ihnen die Hoffnung (= She took their hopes away) rauben: Der Dieb raubte ihm das Geld (= The thief stole his money) stehlen: Der Täter stahl mir den Fernseher (= The culprit stole my TV set) 3.31 Dative & acc.: saying:  3.31 Dative & acc.: saying beantworten: Ich beantworte dir diese Frage (= I’ll answer this question for you) erzählen: Anna erzählte mir die Geschichte (= Anna told me the story) sagen: Ich sage Ihnen meine Meinung (= I’ll tell you my opinion) versprechen: Man versprach ihm 100 Euro (= They promised him 100 euros) 3.32 Quiz (1) : Identify...:  3.32 Quiz (1) : Identify... Identify the verb, subject and object(s) here: 1) Diese Geschichte aus dem alten Russland lesen die Kinder gern 2) Welches Märchen erzählte er dem Kind? 3) Der Dame gehören diese Schuhe 4) Den Mann kennt in diesem Dorf niemand 5) Den Lehrern schenkten die StudentInnen guten Rotwein 3.33 Quiz (1) : Answers:  3.33 Quiz (1) : Answers Verb, subject, direct object, indirect object: 1) Diese Geschichte aus dem alten Russland lesen die Kinder gern 2) Welches Märchen erzählte er dem Kind? 3) Der Dame gehören diese Schuhe 4) Den Mann kennt in diesem Dorf niemand 5) Den Lehrern schenkten die StudentInnen guten Rotwein 3.34 Quiz (2) : Dative:  3.34 Quiz (2) : Dative Complete the clauses with the dative object: Er antwortet ________________________ (= He is replying to the professor) Gib es _____________________________ (= Give it to the girl!) Die Wohnung gehört__________________ (= The flat belongs to the lady) Ich habe es __________________ geschickt (= I sent it to the pupils) 3.35 Quiz (2) : Answers:  3.35 Quiz (2) : Answers Er antwortet der Professorin / dem Professor (= He is replying to the professor) Gib es dem Mädchen! (= Give it to the girl!) Die Wohnung gehört der Dame (= The flat belongs to the lady) Ich habe es den Schülern geschickt (= I sent it to the pupils) 3.36 Verbs + Genitive:  3.36 Verbs + Genitive Very few verbs take a genitive object Such verbs are used in formal German only and have more widely used alternatives. gedenken: Der Minister gedachte der Opfer. (= The minister remembered the victims.) bedürfen: Sie bedurfte meiner Hilfe nicht. (= She didn’t need my help.) 3.37 Verbs + Gen. + Acc.:  3.37 Verbs + Gen. + Acc. Some - mainly legal - verbs take a genitive object and an accusative object. anklagen: Man klagte uns des Meineids an. (= They accused us of perjury.) bezichtigen: Er bezichtigt sie des Raubs. (= He accuses them of robbery.) verdächtigen: Man verdächtigt ihn der Lüge (= They suspect him of lying.) 3.38 Genitive case:  3.38 Genitive case The main role of the genitive case is to link nouns or noun phrases. It tends to indicate possession. While the genitive usually follows the noun on which it depends, proper names may come first - with s but without apostrophe: “Karls Freundin” (Karl’s girlfriend) “Goethes Werke” (Goethe’s works) 3.39 Oh dear, oh dear...:  But importing -s means importing bad habits - Bahnhof’s? The superfluous apostrophe seems to be implying that there is a person called Bahnhof! 3.39 Oh dear, oh dear... 3.40 Genitive endings:  3.40 Genitive endings Nominative der Mann (Masculine) die Frau (Feminine) das Mädchen (Neuter) die Kinder (Plural) Genitive des Mannes (Masculine) der Frau (Feminine) des Mädchens (Neuter) der Kinder (Plural) 3.41 Genitive endings: (-es):  3.41 Genitive endings: (-es) The (-es) genitive ending is added to masculine and neuter nouns ending in: -s: das Haus  des Hauses -ss: das Erdgeschoss  des Erdgeschosses -ß: das Maß (measure)  des Maßes -x: der Reflex  des Reflexes -z: der Platz  des Platzes -nis: das Ereignis  des Ereignisses 3.42 Genitive endings: (-es):  3.42 Genitive endings: (-es) Foreign nouns ending in -s or -x usually have no ending in the genitive: der Rhythmus  des Rhythmus der Organismus  des Organismus BUT some key foreign words have now been assimilated into German and thus add (-es): der Bus  des Busses der Kongress  des Kongresses 3.43 Genitive endings: (-s):  3.43 Genitive endings: (-s) The (-s) genitive ending is added to masculine and neuter nouns with: a vowel ending: der Schnee  des Schnees a vowel ending + -h: der Schuh  des Schuhs Names: Goethe  Goethes Foreign nouns: das Hotel  des Hotels Polysyllabic nouns with an unstressed final syllable: der Abend  des Abends 3.44 Gen. of other nouns:  3.44 Gen. of other nouns There are no clearcut rules for the genitive of the many masculine and neuter nouns that do not fall into the groups listed above. As a rough guide, (-es) is more usually found: in monosyllabic words in words with the stress on the final syllable in words ending with two consonants in formal written German 3.45 Genitive: dictionary:  3.45 Genitive: dictionary Many English-German dictionaries list the genitive ending after the gender of a noun and before its nominative plural. For example - Biss: m -es e This means that the noun is “m” (= masculine)  der Biss The genitive is formed with (-es)  des Bisses The plural is formed with -e  die Bisse 3.46 Quiz (3) : Dictionary:  3.46 Quiz (3) : Dictionary What information can be gained from the following two dictionary entries? 1) Mädchen: nt -s - 2) Kind: nt -(e)s -er 3.47 Quiz (3) : Answers:  3.47 Quiz (3) : Answers 1) Mädchen: nt -s - The noun is “nt” (= neuter)  das Mädchen The genitive ending is (-s)  des Mädchens The plural is the same  die Mädchen 2) Kind: nt -(e)s -er The noun is “nt” (= neuter)  das Kind The genitive ending is (-s) or (-es)  des Kinds or des Kindes The plural is die Kinder 3.48 Definite Article:  3.48 Definite Article 3.49 Indefinite Article:  3.49 Indefinite Article 3.50 Possessive endings:  3.50 Possessive endings 3.51 Possessives: euer:  3.51 Possessives: euer 3.52 Possessive examples:  3.52 Possessive examples Nehmt ihr euren Mercedes? (= Are you taking your Mercedes?) Unser Garten ist größer als euer Garten! (= Our garden is bigger than your garden!) Das ist das Haus seines Nachbarn. (= That is his neighbour’s house.) Ich sprach mit meinem Vater darüber. (= I spoke with my father about this.) 3.53 Determiners:  3.53 Determiners 3.54 Determiner examples:  3.54 Determiner examples Ich wurde Mitglied dieses Vereins. (= I became a member of this club.) Mit jeder Zigarette steigt das Risiko. (= The risk rises with every cigarette.) Hier ist eine Liste aller Benutzer. (= Here is a list of all users.) Mit welchen Kosten muss man rechnen? (= What sort of costs can you expect?)

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