German declension

German declension

German declension is the paradigm that German uses to define all the ways words can change shape to reflect their role in the sentence: subject, object, etc. Much like other Indo-European languages, German hangs on to a vestigial case system that marks an earlier time when the language was much more inflected. Declensions allow speakers to mark a difference between subjects, objects, indirect objects and possessives by changing the form of the word—or its associated article—instead of indicating this meaning through word order or prepositions (e.g. English, Spanish, French). As a result, German can take a much more fluid approach to word order without the meaning being obscured.

As a fusional language, German marks nouns, pronouns, articles, and adjectives to distinguish case, number, and gender.

Modern High German distinguishes between four cases—nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive—and three grammatical genders—feminine, masculine, and neuter. Nouns may also be either singular or plural.


Definite articles ["Handbuch zur deutschen Grammatik", Third Edition, p. 55]

These correspond to the English "the".

= Interrogative pronouns =

To illustrate, here is the complete paradigm of "mein" ("my").

Indefinite pronouns

the pronoun "man"

= Mixed inflection =

This is used when there is a preceding "ein"-word (i.e. words like "mein", "dein", "sein", "kein" etc.) or one that conjugates alike (like "unser" for example).

Notes and references

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