Nominative Case – Declension of Nouns in German Grammar

Introduction

The nominative case is used for nouns that are the subject of a sentence – who or what is performing the action. It is the basic form of a noun.

Learn when to use nouns in the nominative case in German grammar with Lingolia’s online lesson. Then practise noun declension in nominative in the exercises.

Example

Der Fußball liegt im Gras.

Den Fußball hat der Junge zum Geburtstag bekommen.

Der Junge will einmal Profifußballer werden.

Usage

We use the nominative as:

  • the subject of a sentence
    Example:
    Der Fußball liegt im Gras.The football is lying in the grass.
    Den Fußball hat der Junge zum Geburtstag bekommen.The boy received the football for his birthday.
    Der Junge will einmal Profifußballer werden.The boy wants to become a football pro someday.
  • a predicate noun
    Nouns that follow verbs sein/werden/bleiben are often in nominative. This noun is nout the subject of the sentence but rather a predicate. It assigns a characteristic to the subject.
    Example:
    Der Junge will einmal Profifußballer werden.The boy wants to become a football pro someday.

Declension of German Nouns in Nominative

The table belows shows the declension of German nouns in the nominative case.

definite articleindefinite article
masculine der Vater ein Vater
feminine die Mutter eine Mutter
neuter das Kind ein Kind
plural die Eltern Eltern

Exceptions

  • In the plural, we do not use an indefinite article.
    Example:
    nette Elternnice parents

To Note

The subject is often found at the beginning of a sentence, but it can also be in the middle of the sentence (see sentence construction). We can find the subject by asking the question wer/was (who or what) is performing the action?”

Example:
Der Fußball liegt im Gras.The football is lying in the grass.
(Question: Was liegt im Gras? – der FußballWho/What is lying in the grass? – The football.)
Den Fußball hat der Junge zum Geburtstag bekommen.The boy received the football for his birthday.
(Question: Wer hat den Fußball zum Geburtstag bekommen? – der JungeWho/What received the football for his birthday? – The boy.)

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