Different Ways To Use The Genitiv In German

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As explained in a previous post, the Genitiv in German is used to either show ownership/possession or measurement. Even so, its usage can be grouped based on their point of anchor in the sentence. Continue reading to learn more…

Content in this post
1. Classification of Genitiv in German
2. Genitiv with Nominativ
3. Genitiv with Akkusativ
4. Genitiv with Dativ
5. Genitiv with names
Table of content for different ways to use the Genitiv

Classification of Genitiv in German

The position for Genitiv in the standard SVO order is directly after the grammatical case it is influencing or possessing in the sentence. That means, when it possesses the Nominativ, it becomes one position (I.e the S in SVO) instead of two. This principle also applies when it possesses the other grammatical cases as well. There are several ways to use the Genitiv in German as listed below:

  • Genitiv with the subject (Nominativ)
  • Genitiv with direct object (Akkusativ)
  • Genitiv with indirect object (Dativ)
  • Genitiv with names

Genitiv With Nominativ

It shows possession of the Genitiv to the subject there by acting as one entity and takes the first position together with the subject in the standard SVO order. For example: “The man’s son is dancing”. This simply means the owner of the son is the man or the man owns the son. Hence, the man here is the Genitiv. The literal translation in German becomes “Der Sohn des Mannes tanzt” in Genitiv.

1. The President’s daughter is getting married.—— Die Tochter des Präsidenten heiratet.

2. The teacher’s child is crying.—— Das Kind der Lehrerin weint.

3. The man of the people is speaking.—— Der Mann der Leute spricht.
Genitiv with Nominativ sentences

Genitiv With Akkusativ

It is used to show possession or ownership of the Genitiv to the direct object. It is similar to that of the subject except that the direct object is treated like it is in every way. What this means is that, the necessary Akkusativ rules (such as the correct declension of articles etc.) must abide with the noun which is possessed by the Genitiv. For example;

1. Tania is singing the man’s song.—— Tania singt das Lied des Mannes.

2. I am taking the boy’s dog.—— ich nehme den Hund des Jungen.
Genitiv with Akkusativ sentences

Genitiv With Dativ

This shows the possession of the indirect object. It anchors to the indirect object in its standard position (third position). For example;

1. Max is buying a flower for his son’s mother.—— Max kauft der Mutter seines Sohnes.

2. Ruth is preparing the contract for her friend’s sister.—— Ruth bereitet der Schwester ihrer Freundin den Vertrag vor.
Genitiv with Dativ sentences

**Note that it is possible to have a very complex sentence with all grammatical cases being possessed by the Genitiv. For example;

1. The president’s daughter is singing the man’s song to the woman’s child.—— Die Tochter des Präsidenten singt dem Kind der Frau das Lied des Mannes.

2. I would like to speak to the old man’s son.–– ich möchte mit dem Sohn des alten Mannes sprechen.
Genitiv with Dativ sentences

Genitiv With Names In German

The Genitiv with names is divided into two;

  • Names of people and job positions
  • Names of places

With names of people and job positions, the genitive in deutsch adds an “s” to the end of the name but without an apostrophe. For example “Mara’s book” and “The Boss’ office” in deutsch becomes “Maras Buch” and “Der Chefs Büro” respectively. But when the name ends already with an “s”, then there is no need to add another “s”. For example; “Lucas’ book” is translated as “Lucas Buch” in deutsch.

1. Sara’s shoes.—— Saras Schuhe.

2. That is my boss‘ Office —— Das ist mein Chefs Büro.

3. I have Mario‘s shoes—— ich habe Mario‘s Shuhe.
Genitiv sentences with names

With names of Places, Genitiv in English always use the preposition “of” but in deutsch, the literal translation “of” is not. Hence, “The university of Hamburg” would be “Die Universität Hamburg” in deutsch.

3. The queen of England.—— Die Königin England.

4.The president of the federal republic of Germany.—— Der Präsident der Bundesrepublik Deutschland.r.
Genitiv sentences with places

Apart from the ways to use the genitive listed above, the genitive in German can also be obtained using the genitive verbs and prepositions.

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