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Indefinite Articles - Summary
Here is a survey of the indefinite articles declined in the four cases. The article always stands in front of the noun and helps to recognize the case of the noun which it accompanies as the noun itself does not necessarily reveal it. It is the best if you learn the declined forms of the indefinite article by heart. The good thing is that there are no plural forms.
|Case:||Nominative||ein Mann m sg||eine Frau f sg||ein Kind nt sg||Männer m pl|
|Genitive||eines Mannes m sg||einer Frau f sg||eines Kindes nt sg||Männer m pl|
|Dative||einem Mann m sg||einer Frau f sg||einem Kind nt sg||Männern m pl|
|Accusative||einen Mann m sg||eine Frau f sg||ein Kind nt sg||Männer m pl|
Examples of the different cases
The nominative is the first case. We use the nominative form of the indefinite article if it accompanies a noun which represents the subject of the sentence. The subject is the acting part of the sentence which the predicate (the conjugated form of the verb) refers to.
|Nominative (Subject):||German||Phonetic Script||English|
|Question: Who is doing sth?||Ein Kind nt weint.||[ain kɪnt vaint]||A child is crying.|
The genitive is the second of the German cases. We use the genitive form of the indefinite article if it accompanies a noun which represents the genitive object of a sentence.
There are some verbs which are followed by the genitive. Then we have a genitive object.
|Genitive (Object):||German||Phonetic Script||English|
|Question: What is required?||Es bedarf einer Erlaubnis f.||[ɛs bə'darf 'ainɐ ɛɐ'laupnɪs]||A permission is required.|
|Example Verb||einer Sache gen bedürfen||['ainɐ 'zaxə bə'dʏrfən]||to require/need something|
The genitive attribute is a construction of two nouns of which one noun stands in the genitive case. This noun mostly indicates the owner. Here is one example:
|Genitive (Attribute):||German||Phonetic Script||English|
|Question: Whose work is important?||Die Arbeit f eines Arztes m ist wichtig.||[di: 'arbait 'ainəs 'a:ɐtstəs ɪst 'vɪçtɪç]||The work of a doctor is important.|
Remember that there is no plural form of the indefinite article. Nouns accompanied by an indefinite article can only be declined in the genitive plural if they are additionally accompanied by an adjective. Otherwise you have to use the preposition von + dative.
Here is one example of the declension in the genitive plural:
|die Wünsche schöner Frauen f pl||[di: 'vʏnʃə 'ʃø:nɐ 'frauən]||the wishes of beautiful women|
One example with the preposition von + dative:
|die Wünsche von Frauen f pl||[di: 'vʏnʃə fɔn 'frauən]||the wishes of women|
The dative is the third case. We use the dative form of the indefinite article if it accompanies a noun which represents the indirect object of a sentence. In German it is called dative object. Very often a person receives something. Some German verbs and prepositions are followed by the dative case.
|Dative (Object):||German||Phonetic Script||English|
|Question: To who(m) does she write?||Sie schreibt einem Freund m.||[zi: ʃraipt 'ainəm frɔynt]||She is writing to a friend.|
|Example Verb||jemandem (jdm) schreiben||['je:mandəm 'ʃraibən]||to write to somebody|
|The dative object corresponds to the indirect object.|
The accusative is the fourth of the German cases. We use the accusative form of the indefinite article if it accompanies a noun which represents the direct object of a sentence. In German we call it accusative object. Most of the German verbs and prepositions are followed by the accusative case.
|Accusative (Object):||German||Phonetic Script||English|
|Question: Who(m) do I see?||Ich sehe eine Katze f auf dem Dach.||[ɪç ˈze:ə 'ainə 'katsə auf de:m dax]||I see a cat on the roof.|
|Example Verb||jemanden (jdn) sehen||['je:mandən ˈze:ən]||to see someone|
|The accusative object corresponds to the direct object.|
If you have already been learning German somewhere else - at school or university or elsewhere - and if you are insecure which case is used with the verb you want to use, then look it up in a dictionary:
|Object Form||Dictionary||Meaning||Phonetic Script||English|
|Genitive:||einer S. gen bedürfen||einer Sache gen bedürfen||['ainɐ 'zaxə bə'dʏrfən]||to require/need something|
|Dative:||jdm schreiben||jemandem schreiben||['je:mandəm 'ʃraibən]||to write to somebody|
|Accusative:||jdn sehen||jemanden sehen||['je:mandən ˈze:ən]||to see somebody|
Have a look if the verb stands with jds/einer S. (genitive), jdm (dative) or jdn/etwas (accusative).