Flow chart for the four German cases

One of the most difficult aspect of learning German grammar – especially for native English speakers who are not really exposed to that concept – is the idea of having four cases for nouns (Nominativ, Genitiv, Dativ, Akkusativ).

There is a good overview available about those at About.com and their list of Dative verbs can also be found here. Do yourself a favour and copy the text of those lessons into a Word document and save it on your computer. My understanding is that the previous About.com writer is no longer involved in it and as soon as they find a replacement the old documents that are really quite helpful will be taken offline and no longer be available, so download anything you need from there to your computer to save you disappointment at a possible later stage.

Despite having a good overview of the four different German cases knowing when to use them can still be a bit intimidating. The truth is that there are really only a handful of major reasons for picking one case over the other. I therefore decided to put a little basic flow chart together to help you identify when what case is used. That chart should cover probably about 80-90% of all scenarios you are going to encounter. Scenarios not included in this one are e.g. the use of the Akkusativ in certain time and distance expressions (Jeden Montag fahre ich zur Arbeit. Das Krankenhaus ist einen Kilometer entfernt.)

Click on the image to get the full sized version. Any comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. A PDF file of this document has also been made available on the Training Material section of this site.

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