Genitive Case

The genitive case mostly denotes possession or object of certain prepositions. Nowadays, it is less common in spoken German, but in the written language it is still widely used.

In English, possession is indicated by apostrophe 's' or by the preposition of.

My friend's sister is a musician.

The sound of storm is caused by a rapid expansion of air.

In German, the genitive case is indicated by special forms of articles and adjectives.

Below are the genitive forms of articles and some possessive adjectives to give you the idea of the ending patterns:

Definite article:

masc.sing. der - des

fem. sing. die - der

neut.sing das - des

pl. die - der

Indefinite article:

masc.sing. ein - eines

fem. sing. eine - einer

neut.sing ein - eines

Possessive adjective mein (my):

masc.sing. mein - meines

fem. sing. meine - meiner

neut.sing mein - meines

pl. meine - meiner

In addition, for the majority of masculine and neuter nouns of more than one syllable in the singular, German uses an -s ending. Most one-syllable nouns and nouns ending in -s, -ss, -z, -tz, or -zt add -es.

der Hund - des Hundes

der Mond - des Mondes

N-nouns which refer to people and animals (der Student, der Junge, der Herr, der Mensch, der Nachbar, der Hase) take -n or -en in the genitive singular, just as they do in the accusative and dative singular.

der Herr - des Herrn

der Mensch - des Menschen

Many feminine nouns in singular do not have special endings in the genitive case.

The genitive case is also used with certain prepositions:

innerhalb - inside of

außerhalb - outside of

(an)statt - instead of

trotz - in spite of, despite

wegen - because of

während - during

Das passiert außerhalb der Bar. - That happened outside the bar.

Willst du Fisch anstatt des Hähnchens? - You want the fish instead of the chicken?

Sie liebt der Mann trotz seiner Fehler. - She loves the man despite his shortcomings.

Sie werden während der Reise bei ihm sein. - You will be with him during the trip.

Das ist nicht wegen des Geldes. - It's not because of the money.


The question word to ask about nouns or pronouns in the genetive is wessen (whose). Wessen is the genitive form of wer (who).

Wessen Idee ist das? - Whose idea is it?

Meines Bruders. - My brother's.

Wessen ist es denn? - Then whose is it?

von + dative

In spoken German, the genitive of possession is frequently replaced by von + dative.

ein Freund von mir - my friend/a friend of mine

der Freund von meinem Bruder - my brother's friend

der Bruder von Siegfried - Siegfried's brother


Grammar Patterns

Listening Comprehension