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VisualUnicorn
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I've been learning German for a long time now but I STILL don't get cases. Can anyone explain it in a way that I can understand???
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Krokodilo
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What's your situation? Are you taking classes in school (what level, year?), do you have a text book or a German grammar reference work, what are the problems you have specifically (describe what happens when you read or write something in German)? Do you have an understanding of the basic word types and sentence parts?
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VisualUnicorn
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(Original post by Krokodilo)
What's your situation? Are you taking classes in school (what level, year?), do you have a text book or a German grammar reference work, what are the problems you have specifically (describe what happens when you read or write something in German)? Do you have an understanding of the basic word types and sentence parts?
I am going into year 11(GCSE). I do have a textbook but it doesn't really explain well. I don't really understand when to use it in sentences, especially dative case.
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Krokodilo
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I suggest you check if these revision resources help you with anything:

1) BBC Bitesize GCSE: https://www.bbc.com/education/guides/zg8pycw/revision/1

2) More extensive explanations are given at the German Grammar Review site at Dartmouth College:
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~deutsch/Gr...Grammatik.html


Then there is of course the tedious part of learning vocab and practicing how to declense the word types that change with the case: Nouns, pronouns and determiners (personal, possessive, demonstrative, relative), articles (indefinite, definite), adjectives. There are resources for that too… (it's a rabbit hole...)

I understand that you might not have a firm grip on formal grammar and what term is used for what. If things are unclear to you, keep asking and give specific examples.
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VisualUnicorn
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(Original post by Krokodilo)
I suggest you check if these revision resources help you with anything:

1) BBC Bitesize GCSE: https://www.bbc.com/education/guides/zg8pycw/revision/1

2) More extensive explanations are given at the German Grammar Review site at Dartmouth College:
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~deutsch/Gr...Grammatik.html


Then there is of course the tedious part of learning vocab and practicing how to declense the word types that change with the case: Nouns, pronouns and determiners (personal, possessive, demonstrative, relative), articles (indefinite, definite), adjectives. There are resources for that too… (it's a rabbit hole...)

I understand that you might not have a firm grip on formal grammar and what term is used for what. If things are unclear to you, keep asking and give specific examples.
Thank you so much!
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Krokodilo
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On Youtube there's the video of a US highschool German teacher that attempts to explain the whole case system. His channel blitztag1 has loads of videos that might be helpful. The Youtube is full of German learnig videos, not all of them will be helpful for you, but this channel looks good, although it is from a US perspective:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHC_Wt6k9bQ
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VisualUnicorn
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(Original post by Krokodilo)
On Youtube there's the video of a US highschool German teacher that attempts to explain the whole case system. His channel blitztag1 has loads of videos that might be helpful. The Youtube is full of German learnig videos, not all of them will be helpful for you, but this channel looks good, although it is from a US perspective:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHC_Wt6k9bQ
Thank you so much for the help
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fernsehturm
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(Original post by VisualUnicorn)
I've been learning German for a long time now but I STILL don't get cases. Can anyone explain it in a way that I can understand???
Hi there,

I'll try my best to explain it in a way that makes sense. Here goes. You might find some of this a bit much or struggle to understand, but you have to persevere. Languages can be difficult and that's why you need to spend more time on them just getting used to them.

First of all, as you will know, a noun is a word that refers to objects or ideas. e.g. dog, cat, excitement, human, friendship. This is as opposed to verbs, adjectives, adverbs etc. which you should know about. Just remember at this point that cases refer to nouns.

When you have a sentence in a language, there is often more than one noun in the sentence. Therefore the language has to have a way of showing which noun is doing what in the sentence. (just bear with me)

In English, we do this by using word order. Look at the following sentences:

1. The man eats the dog.

2. The dog eats the man.

(sorry - couldn't think of a better example...)

In sentence 1, the "man" is in the first position. That way, you know that the man is the subject of the sentence and therefore is the one doing the eating. The "dog" comes after the verb so it is the object - that means it is being eaten. The order is switched in sentence 2 so it is the other way around. This time, the man is being eaten by the dog.

In German, however, this meaning is not always communicated by word order. Instead, the nouns are put into different cases to show which one is doing what.

Section 1. Nominative and Accusative.

Lets start with the first two cases. NOMINATIVE and ACCUSATIVE.

In the sentences above, we worked out which noun is the subject and which is the object.

In German, the SUBJECT uses the NOMINATIVE case and the OBJECT uses the ACCUSATIVE case.

You know which case a word is by looking at what is called the "article". The "article" is just the word that is "the" or "a" in English.

So the words "the" or "a" in English can be translated many different ways in German. This depends on the case of the noun as well as the gender. I'm sure you already have these tables from school. But here is one. Just focus on the NOM and ACC for now.


Image

1. The man eats the dog

The man is the subject and the dog is the object. In German, therefore, the man must be nominative and the dog must be accusative.

1. Der Mann isst den Hund OR Den Hund isst der Mann

Notice that you no longer need to have the word order the same as in English. You can change it around because you still know that it is the dog which is being eaten (because it is in the accusative).

2. The dog eats the man

It's the opposite for sentence 2. Here, the dog is the subject and the man is the object.

2. Der Hund isst den Mann OR Den Mann isst der Hund

Some more examples:

Die Frau (NOM) benutzt den Computer (ACC)
The woman uses the computer
Den Computer (ACC) benutzt die Frau (NOM)
The woman uses the computer

BUT

Der Computer (NOM) benutzt die Frau (ACC)
The computer uses the woman (obviously this doesn't make sense but you see what I mean).

If you're still not with me, remember that English also uses cases in some situations. Think about this:

I am eating him
He is eating me

"I" is NOM but "me" is ACC. "He" is NOM but "him" is ACC.

These personal pronouns also change in German according to case (find them online).

Section 2. Dative

In the sentences above, the noun in the accusative was the "object". More specifically, it was the DIRECT OBJECT. Think about this as what is being "verbed". e.g. the man eats the dog.

But there also exists something called the INDIRECT OBJECT. Look at this sentence in English:

I gave the baby the snake.

Word order again shows us here what is happening. The snake is being given to the baby (by me). So what is being verbed? The Snake. It is having the action done to it. So it is the direct object.

The baby is the indirect object because it is kind of the receiver of the action.

There is another way to do that sentence in English:

I gave the snake to the baby.

The baby, as the indirect object, has that "to" before it to show that it is the indirect object.

In German, we use the DATIVE case to show that it is the indirect object.

That sentence translates as:

Ich habe dem Baby die Schlange gegeben.

If you look back at your table, "dem" is the dative article meaning "the" for masculine and neuter so that's what we need to use.

Another example:

Der Frau gebe ich den Computer.
I am giving the computer to the woman OR I am giving the woman the computer.

The dative is however not only used as the indirect object. It is also used with the direct object after certain verbs (which you do just have to learn unfortunately). The main ones are:

antworten - to answer
danken - to thank
folgen - to follow
gefallen - to be pleasing to
helfen - to help
wehtun - to hurt

e.g. Darf ich dir helfen? May I help you?

Section 3. Genitive

In English, we can show "possession" of something by using the apostrophe s (" 's ") on the end of the word.

e.g. I gave the woman the man's car.

In German, you use the GENITIVE to show possession. You could also think of it as meaning "of the". For example:

Ich habe der Frau das Auto des Mannes gegeben
I gave the woman the car of the man / I gave the woman the man's car

You will find many things online about how to form the genitive - but I wouldn't worry about it for GCSE. You only need to recognise it for the moment really. Because you can avoid using the genitive by using the preposition "von" plus a dative.

Ich habe der Frau das Auto von dem Mann gegeben

Which brings me onto my next point - prepositions.

Section 4. Prepositions

Prepositions are words that show the location of something e.g. to, at, in, with

In German, different prepositions are followed by different cases. Unfortunately you just need to learn these! I would recommend Quizlet or just practise!

Prepositions followed by ACC are bis, durch, für, gegen, ohne and um

e.g. Der Zug fährt bis das Tal = the train travels as far as the valley

Prepositions followed by DAT are ab, aus, außer, bei, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von and zu

e.g. Ich gehe seit zwei Jahren in die Schule (Jahren is dative - in the plural you need to add an extra "n" or "en" onto the end of the word) - I have been going to school for two years

e.g. Der Zug fährt zu dem Tal = the train travels to the valley

AC/DC prepositions can't decide and take either the accusative (when motion is involved into or out of the place you are describing ) or the dative (when there is no motion into or out of the place - you are staying in the same place).

These are an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor, zwischen

For example

Wir fliegen über die Stadt (ACC) - we are flying over the town
Ich gehe in das Schwimmbad (ACC) - I am going into/ to the swimming pool

Wir sind über der Stadt (DAT) - we are above the town (and presumably not moving away from it)
Ich schwimme in dem Schwimmbad (DAT) - I am swimming in the swimming pool (I'm not going into or out of it - I'm staying in a fixed position i.e. within the swimming pool)

And here are the prepositions that take the Genitive. anstatt, statt, außerhalb, innerhalb, trotz, während, wegen.

I really hope this helps. If you have any questions, please ask. I realise how difficult this can be but with some of these things you just need to sit down and learn them and practise.
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VisualUnicorn
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#9
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(Original post by montyzuma)
hi there,

i'll try my best to explain it in a way that makes sense. Here goes. You might find some of this a bit much or struggle to understand, but you have to persevere. Languages can be difficult and that's why you need to spend more time on them just getting used to them.

First of all, as you will know, a noun is a word that refers to objects or ideas. E.g. Dog, cat, excitement, human, friendship. This is as opposed to verbs, adjectives, adverbs etc. Which you should know about. Just remember at this point that cases refer to nouns.

When you have a sentence in a language, there is often more than one noun in the sentence. Therefore the language has to have a way of showing which noun is doing what in the sentence. (just bear with me)

in english, we do this by using word order. Look at the following sentences:

1. The man eats the dog.

2. The dog eats the man.

(sorry - couldn't think of a better example...)

in sentence 1, the "man" is in the first position. That way, you know that the man is the subject of the sentence and therefore is the one doing the eating. The "dog" comes after the verb so it is the object - that means it is being eaten. The order is switched in sentence 2 so it is the other way around. This time, the man is being eaten by the dog.

In german, however, this meaning is not always communicated by word order. Instead, the nouns are put into different cases to show which one is doing what.

section 1. nominative and accusative.

lets start with the first two cases. Nominative and accusative.

In the sentences above, we worked out which noun is the subject and which is the object.

In german, the subject uses the nominative case and the object uses the accusative case.

You know which case a word is by looking at what is called the "article". The "article" is just the word that is "the" or "a" in english.

So the words "the" or "a" in english can be translated many different ways in german. This depends on the case of the noun as well as the gender. I'm sure you already have these tables from school. But here is one. Just focus on the nom and acc for now.


Image

1. The man eats the dog

the man is the subject and the dog is the object. In german, therefore, the man must be nominative and the dog must be accusative.

1. Der mann isst den hund or den hund isst der mann

notice that you no longer need to have the word order the same as in english. You can change it around because you still know that it is the dog which is being eaten (because it is in the accusative).

2. The dog eats the man

it's the opposite for sentence 2. Here, the dog is the subject and the man is the object.

2. Der hund isst den mann or den mann isst der hund

some more examples:

Die frau (nom) benutzt den computer (acc)
the woman uses the computer
den computer (acc) benutzt die frau (nom)
the woman uses the computer

but

der computer (nom) benutzt die frau (acc)
the computer uses the woman (obviously this doesn't make sense but you see what i mean).

If you're still not with me, remember that english also uses cases in some situations. Think about this:

I am eating him
he is eating me

"i" is nom but "me" is acc. "he" is nom but "him" is acc.

These personal pronouns also change in german according to case (find them online).

section 2. dative

in the sentences above, the noun in the accusative was the "object". More specifically, it was the direct object. Think about this as what is being "verbed". E.g. The man eats the dog.

But there also exists something called the indirect object. Look at this sentence in english:

i gave the baby the snake.

Word order again shows us here what is happening. The snake is being given to the baby (by me). So what is being verbed? The snake. It is having the action done to it. So it is the direct object.

The baby is the indirect object because it is kind of the receiver of the action.

There is another way to do that sentence in english:

i gave the snake to the baby.

the baby, as the indirect object, has that "to" before it to show that it is the indirect object.

In german, we use the dative case to show that it is the indirect object.

That sentence translates as:

ich habe dem baby die schlange gegeben.

If you look back at your table, "dem" is the dative article meaning "the" for masculine and neuter so that's what we need to use.

Another example:

der frau gebe ich den computer.
i am giving the computer to the woman or i am giving the woman the computer.

The dative is however not only used as the indirect object. It is also used with the direct object after certain verbs (which you do just have to learn unfortunately). The main ones are:

Antworten - to answer
danken - to thank
folgen - to follow
gefallen - to be pleasing to
helfen - to help
wehtun - to hurt

e.g. Darf ich dir helfen? May i help you?

section 3. genitive

in english, we can show "possession" of something by using the apostrophe s (" 's " on the end of the word.

E.g. i gave the woman the man's car.

in german, you use the genitive to show possession. You could also think of it as meaning "of the". For example:

ich habe der frau das auto des mannes gegeben
i gave the woman the car of the man / i gave the woman the man's car

you will find many things online about how to form the genitive - but i wouldn't worry about it for gcse. You only need to recognise it for the moment really. Because you can avoid using the genitive by using the preposition "von" plus a dative.

ich habe der frau das auto von dem mann gegeben

which brings me onto my next point - prepositions.

section 4. Prepositions

prepositions are words that show the location of something e.g. To, at, in, with

in german, different prepositions are followed by different cases. Unfortunately you just need to learn these! I would recommend quizlet or just practise!

prepositions followed by acc are bis, durch, für, gegen, ohne and um

e.g. Der zug fährt bis das tal = the train travels as far as the valley

prepositions followed by dat are ab, aus, außer, bei, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von and zu

e.g. Ich gehe seit zwei jahren in die schule (jahren is dative - in the plural you need to add an extra "n" or "en" onto the end of the word) - i have been going to school for two years

e.g. Der zug fährt zu dem tal = the train travels to the valley

ac/dc prepositions can't decide and take either the accusative (when motion is involved into or out of the place you are describing ) or the dative (when there is no motion into or out of the place - you are staying in the same place).

these are an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor, zwischen

for example

wir fliegen über die stadt (acc) - we are flying over the town
ich gehe in das schwimmbad (acc) - i am going into/ to the swimming pool

wir sind über der stadt (dat) - we are above the town (and presumably not moving away from it)
ich schwimme in dem schwimmbad (dat) - i am swimming in the swimming pool (i'm not going into or out of it - i'm staying in a fixed position i.e. Within the swimming pool)

and here are the prepositions that take the genitive. Anstatt, statt, außerhalb, innerhalb, trotz, während, wegen.

i really hope this helps. If you have any questions, please ask. I realise how difficult this can be but with some of these things you just need to sit down and learn them and practise.
thank you so much!
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Miquet
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This is the best explanation of German Cases I have ever seen. (I have been trying to overcome them for 42 years!) Well done, you have a gift!
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