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German Preposition Cases, Part II

This week we're going to continue to go through cases used with German prepositions. If you are an advanced German speaker, this will be nothing new for you, but will hopefully be helpful for beginners as a learning tool and for intermediate German speakers as a refresher. Nouns, pronouns, and adjectives that are modified by prepositions take either the accusative, dative, or genitive case, but to make things slightly confusing, some prepositions require either the accusative or dative case, depending upon the context. In Part II today, let's examine the prepositions that always require the dative case for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. 

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Let's start out by taking a look at the dative case for nouns as follows for the definite article "the," with the nominative case followed by the dative case: 

 

der => dem
die => der
das => dem

 

And for the indefinite article

 

ein (masculine) => einem
eine => einer
ein (neuter) => einem

 

And for the singular and plural personal pronouns "I," "you," "he," "she," , "it," "we," and "they":

 

ich => mir
du => dir
Sie
(formal "you") => Ihnen
er 
=> ihm
sie 
=> ihr
es
=> ihm
ihr => euch

wir => uns
sie
=> ihnen
Sie (formal "you" plural) => Ihnen

 

Remember too that if there is no definite or indefinite article, the adjective must still take the case appropriate for its gender with the preposition.

 

The common German prepositions that require the dative case of nouns and pronouns are aus, außer, bei, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von, and zu. Here are some examples from Yabla German. The article in the feminine noun die Mode becomes der in the dative case.

 

Die gute alte Kaffeemaschine

The good old coffee machine

ist dabei etwas aus der Mode geraten.

has to some extent gone out of style in the process.

Caption 12, Eva zeigt uns - wie man Kaffee kocht

 Play Caption

 

Here, the nominative pronoun ich becomes mir in the dative case:

 

In diesem Haus wohnen außer mir

In this house live, other than me,

noch mehrere Familien in Mietwohnungen.

several other families in rental apartments.

Captions 5-6, Zu Besuch bei Jenny - Am Hauseingang

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Here, the indefinite feminine article eine (for die Flasche) becomes einer in the dative case, and the neuter ein (for das Glas) becomes the dative einem:

 

Ob es sich bei einer Flasche oder einem Glas um eine Mehrweg- oder Pfandflasche handelt...

With a bottle or a jar, whether it happens to be returnable or a bottle with a deposit...

Caption 48, Eva erklärt - Mülltrennung

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The dative preposition gegenüber is a bit unusual, in that when it is used on its own, it falls after the item it modifies:

 

Dem Clubhaus gegenüber liegt ein feiner Sandstrand.

Across from the clubhouse lies a fine sandy beach.

Caption 31, Golf - in Wien

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You can see this above in the correct word order dem Clubhaus gegenüber (not gegenüber dem Clubhaus!). If you wanted to place gegenüber before das Clubhaus, however, you must add the dative preposition von to the mix. So it would also be acceptable to formulate the sentence above as Gegenüber von dem Clubhaus liegt ein feiner Sandstrand. This would be translated exactly the same into English.

 

Here, the nominative pronoun ihr becomes euch in the dative case:

 

Jasmin und ich werden heute mit euch üben.

Jasmin and I will practice with you today.

Caption 2, Diane erklärt - Fragewörter

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And here, the masculine indefinite article ein (for der Monat) becomes the dative einem:

 

Erst nach einem Monat bleibt das Küken fast den ganzen Tag alleine.

Only after a month, the chick stays alone almost all day.

Caption 30, Alpenseen - Kühle Schönheiten

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The feminine definite article die (for die Römerzeit) becomes the dative der:

 

... seit der Römerzeit ein befestigter Alpenübergang.

... since Roman times a fortified Alpine crossing.

Caption 23, Die letzten Paradiese - Die Schönheit der Alpen 2

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With the preposition von, the nominative pronoun er becomes the dative pronoun ihm:

 

Es ist genau das, was seine Anhänger von ihm hören wollen.

It is exactly what his supporters want to hear from him.

Caption 25, Tagesschau - Amtseinführung von Donald Trump 

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And finishing up our A to Z of dative pronouns, the nominative pronoun du becomes dir in the dative:

 

Sorry, das läuft auf meinem alten Laptop nicht. Da müssen wir zu dir.

Sorry, this doesn't run on my old laptop. We'll have to go to your place.

Caption 35, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche

 Play Caption

 

Further Learning
To recap, the common German prepositions that require the dative case of nouns and pronouns are aus, außer, bei, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von, and zu. Go to Yabla German to look for more examples of prepositions whose nouns, pronouns, and adjectives take only the dative case. Also review Part I in this series about prepositions that require the accusative case.

Das and Dies as Demonstrative Plural Pronouns

A sentence construction with das sind... followed by a plural noun is a bit confusing at first, but it's very common in spoken German. At first you might be tempted to translate it literally, but with "that are" (sic), you'll find the singular subject and the plural verb to be in disagreement. That's because the demonstrative pronouns das and dies are not inflected by the plural of the verb sein ("to be"). 

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So it's more natural for a native German to say Das sind Hans und Grete. This can sound a bit strange when you're first learning German.

 

Nein, das hier sind keine mutierten Gartenzwerge.

No, these here are no mutated garden gnomes.

Caption 1, „Mini-Marxe“ - In Trier

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Immer dran denken: Das sind alles Verben, die einen Akkusativ brauchen.

Always remember: they are all verbs that require the accusative case.

Caption 31, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Fragen

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Das sind nun die Zutaten für unseren Apfelkuchen.

These are now the ingredients for our apple cake.

Caption 3, Apfelkuchen - mit Eva

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Das sind oft nur wenige Pfennige und man bekommt das Geld natürlich wieder.

Often these are just a few pennies and you get the money back, of course.

Caption 34, Eva erklärt - Mülltrennung

 Play Caption

 

And here are a couple of examples using dies sind: 

 

Dies sind nur ganz wenige Ausschnitte aus dem zurückliegenden Jahr.

These are just a very few excerpts from the previous year.

Caption 8, Angela Merkel - Neujahrsansprache

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Dies sind Hinterlassenschaften eines Krokodils.

These are the remains of a crocodile.

Caption 10, Ausgrabungen - Auf den Spuren der Dinosaurier

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Further Learning
Look for more examples of das sind on Yabla German to see the phrase used in a real-world context.

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Comparative adjectives express a higher degree of a particular quality, whereas superlative adjectives express the highest degree. In order to create comparative adjectives in English, we add "-er" to the end of shorter adjectives (such as "cheaper") or add “more” in front of longer adjectives (“more expensive”). In German, -er is added to all adjectives regardless of how many syllables they have. Mehr is never used for this purpose. 

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„Nichts leichter als das", antwortete Frederick.

"Nothing easier than that!" answered Frederick.

Caption 4, Piggeldy und Frederick - Arm

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Aber was noch viel wichtiger ist als der Saft zum Frühstück, ist natürlich der Kaffee.

But what's far more important for breakfast than juice is, of course, coffee.

Caption 14, Jenny beim Frühstück - Teil 1

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Superlative adjectives in English either have "-est" at the end or are preceded by the adjective “most” ("cheapest," "the most expensive"). In German, the suffix -ste or -sten is used, depending on the declension. Take note: Putting meist in front of an adjective will give it a fully different meaning (similar to "mostly"). 

 

Das ist das schönste Gefühl auf der Welt.

That is the most beautiful feeling in the world.

Caption 66, Kinotipp - Kokowääh

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Am einfachsten ist es bei Papier und Pappe.

It is easiest with paper and cardboard.

Caption 11, Eva erklärt - Mülltrennung

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Jeden Tag trug die Prinzessin die schönsten Gewänder und den teuersten Schmuck

Every day the Princess wore the most beautiful garments and the most expensive jewelry

Captions 7-8, Märchen - Sagenhaft - König Drosselbart

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Further Learning
When you learn a new adjective on Yabla German, take a moment to learn its comparative and superlative forms. Keep in mind that there are irregular forms where a slight spelling change (such as an umlaut) is required. Take a look at this table for some examples.

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