Top 10 Grammar

Learning German

1. Definite articles „der, die, das“

German has three classes of gender: masculine, feminine and neuter. Unfortunately there's no general rule for articles. You have to learn the gender of each noun by heart.

die Katze, der Fahrer, das Taxi

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Learning German

2. Indefinite articles „ein, einer, eine“

Indefinite articles refer to an object or person whose identity is not already known or hasn't yet been specified. Indefinite articles have no plural, so plural nouns appear without an article.

Ich möchte das Brötchen. Ich möchte ein Brötchen.

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Learning German

3. Diminutives

Many German nouns can be turned into diminutives by adding a suffix to the end: "chen" or "lein". Diminutives denote people, animals and things that are cute or small.

Bär – Bärchen. Harry – Harrylein

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4. Personal pronouns in the dative

Any noun can be replaced by a pronoun. Personal pronouns in the dative answer the question "Wem?" (whom).

Die Hose gefällt mir. Ich danke Ihnen.

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5. Two-way prepositions requiring the dative or the accusative

Wo?" (where). They refer to a place or location. "Wohin?" (where to). They refer to a direction.

Wo? Die Gläser sind auf dem Tisch. Wohin? Ich stelle die Gläser auf den Tisch.

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Learning German

6. Reflexive verbs

Reflexive verbs are verbs whose object is the same as the subject. The object is called a reflexive pronoun.

Er wäscht sich nicht mehr. Er kämmt seine Haare nicht mehr.

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7. Passive voice in the present tense

In this sentence, what is happening to Harry - an operation - is of essence. It is not important who is actually carrying out the operation.

Was passiert mit Harry? Harry wird gleich operiert.

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Learning German

8. Time clauses with "als" and "wenn"

"als" and "wenn" indicate that the actions described in both clauses happen at the same time. Use "als" to describe one-time events or actions in the past.

Als der Notruf kam, sind wir losgefahren. (einmalig)

Wenn Helmut ins Büro kam, waren alle gut gelaunt. (wiederholt)

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Learning German

9. "lassen" as a main and helping verb

As a main verb, "lassen" can often be used on its own and usually means to stop or to have stopped doing something. As a helping verb, "lassen" is used in conjunction with another verb in the infinitive.

Helmut, lass es! Anna, bitte, lass mich gehen!

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Learning German

10. Prepositions requiring the genitive

There are also some prepositions that require the genitive: "wegen, trotz, statt, während".

Präpositionen mit Genitiv: wegen, trotz, statt, während. Trotz unserer Liebe hatten wir Probleme.

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Harry's ten most helpful grammar rules.