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German Pronouns, Part 4: Genitive Case

written by: Heather Marie Kosur • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 6/30/2014

German pronouns have both grammatical gender and grammatical case. This four-part series explores German pronouns in the nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive cases. Part four identifies the German pronouns in the genitive case, which function to indicate possession.

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    Genitive Case

    In the English language, the clitic -'s (apostrophe s) functions to indicate possession of one noun by another noun. The German genitive Germany case pronouns similarly function to indicate possession of nouns. However, speakers new to the German language must learn some significant differences between the possessive clitic of English and the possessive pronouns of German. In English, the possessing noun precedes the possessed noun as in the puppy's ball. In German, conversely, the possessed noun precedes the possessing noun as in die Kugel des Welpen "the ball of the puppy/the puppy's ball." Like the other cases of German pronouns, the genitive case German pronouns also show grammatical gender.

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    Genitive Case or Possessive Pronouns

    The genitive case in German indicates possession. For examples, the noun meiner Schwester "of my sister/my sister's" in the phrase die Schuhe meiner Schwester "the shoes of my sister/my sister's shoes" indicates possession: my sister possesses the shoes. The German pronouns in the genitive case are:

    • meiner "of me" (first person singular)
    • deiner "of you " (second person singular familiar)
    • Ihrer "of you" (second person singular formal)
    • seiner "of him, of it" (third person singular masculine)
    • ihrer "of her, of it" (third person singular feminine)
    • seiner "of it" (third person singular neuter)
    • unser "of us" (first person plural)
    • euer "of you" (second person plural familiar)
    • Ihrer "of you " (second person plural formal)
    • ihrer "of them" (third person plural)

    For masculine and neuter nouns, the ending of the genitive pronoun changes from -r to and -s. Masculine and neuter nouns also take an -s ending when preceded by a genitive pronoun.

    For the pragmatics (uses specific to a language) of the genitive case German pronouns, please see the Useful Tips section of the article on the nominative case German pronouns (German Pronouns: Nominative Case).

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    Examples of the Genitive Case German Pronouns

    The genitive case pronouns are rarely used in all but the most formal settings. The following are examples of use of the genitive case German pronouns:

    • Die Kinder meiner Tante "the children of my aunt/my aunt's children"
    • Die Kinder deiner Tante "the children of your aunt/your aunt's children"
    • Die Kinder Ihrer Tante "the children of your aunt/your aunt's children"
    • Die Kinder seiner Tante "the children of his aunt/his aunt's children"
    • Die Kinder ihrer Tante "the children of her aunt/her aunt's children"
    • Die Kinder unserer Tante "the children of our aunt/our aunt's children"
    • Die Kinder eurer Tante "the children of your aunt/your aunt's children"
    • Die Kinder ihrer Tante "the children of their aunt/their aunt's children"

    Note the change in the endings of the pronoun and noun with the masculine der Bruder "brother."

    • das Haus meines Bruders "the house of my brother/my brother's house"
    • das Haus deines Bruders "the house of your brother/your brother's house"
    • das Haus Ihres Bruders "the house of your brother/your brother's house"
    • das Haus seines Bruders "the house of his brother/his brother's house"
    • das Haus ihres Bruders "the house of her brother/her brother's house"
    • das Haus unseres Bruders "the house of our brother/our brother's house"
    • das Haus eures Bruders "the house of your brother/your brother's house"
    • das Haus ihres Bruders "the house of their brother/their brother's house"

    Possession and other relationships are more frequently indicated by the use of the preposition von followed by the dative case.

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    Prepositions and the Genitive Case

    Similar to certain prepositions in German that require the use of either the accusative or the dative case of the following pronoun, other German prepositions require the use of the genitive case. The following frequently-used prepositions require the use of the genitive case:

    • (an)statt "instead of"
    • trotz "in spite of"
    • während "during"
    • wegen "because of"
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    For additional information related to the genitive case of German pronouns, please refer to:

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    The accompanying printable vocabulary sheet the personal pronouns in German is available for download at German Personal Pronouns Reference Sheet.

German Pronouns

German pronouns have both grammatical gender and grammatical case. The following four part series explores German pronouns in the nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive cases.
  1. German Pronouns: Part 1: Nominative Case
  2. German Pronouns: Part 2: Identifying the Accusative Case
  3. German Pronouns: Part 3: Dative Case
  4. German Pronouns, Part 4: Genitive Case