Case Overviews

Case Overviews

Diagnostic Exercises (check if you’ve mastered this topic!)

You will be asked 20 questions. IF YOU GET A QUESTION WRONG, KEEP TRYING UNTIL YOU GET IT RIGHT. THE PROGRAM WILL ONLY CALCULATE YOUR SCORE IF YOU HAVE ANSWERED ALL THE QUESTIONS. Incorrect guesses will reduce your score. When you are finished, click “Submit” if you are satisfied with your score. Remember you need a score of at least 80% in order to get a “check” for this assignment.

Practice Exercises
Case Overview–Standard Version Case Overview II: Why is the Noun in the Sentence?
Masculine Weak Nouns (N-Nouns)  


The practice exercises on this page are primarily compiled from other websites==> please use the Contact/Feedback link in the navigation bar on the left to let me know if any of the links stops working, so I can update or delete it! Some of the exercises below are rather detailed, whereas this page is just designed to provide a general overview of case ==> don’t be too concerned if something seems very unfamiliar to you, but do ask your instructor about it.

  • In particular, a number of the exercises below deal with prepositions and strong/verb/weak verb pairs. These will be explained in more detail on the Prepositions page on this site, but you can get a good preliminary review of prepositions by trying these exercises!

Exercises NOT taken from other websites

  • Dativ: Was ist logisch? Helps you recognize the dative case and build a basic understanding its use with verbs that take both direct (accusative) and indirect (dative) objects.
  • Filmtitel mit Genitiv Educational infotainment 🙂  Practice the Genitive by translating titles of some popular movies. The second of these asks you to translate into German and is quite difficult; use the “Nächster richtiger Buchstabe” button if you’re stuck on e.g. an adjective ending.
  • Cumulative practice: Was ist richtig?

Exercises from other websites

1. Handouts and exercises created by Nancy Thuleen. Many of these are accompanied by an answer sheet (“Lösungsblatt”).

2. Übungen auf der Neue HorizonteWebseite [you will need to enable Flash!]:

  • Kapitel 2: Try the exercises “Accusative Case” [note the first item is actually Nominative, since the verb is “sein” – but the others really are all Accusative] and “Possessive Adjectives” [most of these are Nominative, but a5, 7 and 8 are Accusative]
  • Kapitel 4: Try the exercise “More uses of the Accusative Case
  • Kapitel 5: Try the exercises “Dative Case,” “Dative Personal Pronouns,” and “Prepositions with the Dative Case
  • Kapitel 6: Try the exercises “Two-way Prepositions” and “Masculine N-Nouns
  • Kapitel 7: Try the exercises “Der-Words and Ein-Words,” “Verbs with Dative objects,” “Personal Dative,” and “Verbs with two-way Prepositions
  • Kapitel 8: Try the exercises “Genitive Case” and “Prepositions with the Genitive Case

3. Übungen auf der Deutsch Heute Webseite [you will need to enable Flash!]

Masculine Weak Nouns (N-Nouns)

Normal nouns” generally change their endings in the plural, and add an -n (when possible) in the Dative plural. Masculine and neuter nouns also normally add an -s or -es in the Genitive singular.

Weak nouns (or N-nouns) add an -n or -en ending whenever they are NOT in the Nominative singular. Common examples are “der Junge” (the boy), (der) Herr (Mr., gentleman, Lord), der Student:

  • Das ist ein Junge. Ich sehe den Jungen [=I see the boy (singular!)]. Wir geben dem Jungen einen Döner [= We give the boy (singular!) a Döner]. [Plural: Also die Jungen]
  • Das ist Herr Müller. Ich sehe Herrn Müller[=I see Mr. Müller]. Wir geben Herrn Müller einen Döner [= We give Mr. Müller a Döner]. [Plural: Also die Herrn, but more commonly die Herren]
  • Das ist ein Student. Ich sehe den Studenten [=I see the student (singular!)]. Wir geben dem Studenten einen Döner [= We give the student (singular!) a Döner]. [Plural: Also die Studenten]
  • If these examples are making you hungry and you are in South-East Michigan, here is a possibility (es gibt auch ein Balkan House in Ferndale).

Here are a few tables, to show you the pattern:

Some “normal” nouns (to keep things consistent, the examples are all masculine):

  Sing. Plural   Sing. Plural
NOM der Mann die Männer   der Tisch die Tische
AKK den Mann die Männer   den Tisch die Tische
DAT dem Mann den Männern   dem Tisch den Tischen
GEN des Mannes der Männer   des Tisches der Tische

Some weak nouns:

  Sing. Plural   Sing. Plural
NOM der Junge die Jungen   der Idiot die Idioten
AKK den Jungen die Jungen   den Idioten die Idioten
DAT dem Jungen den Jungen   dem Idioten den Idioten
GEN des Jungen der Jungen   des Idioten der Idioten

Good to know:

  • Weak nouns are always masculine (exception: das Herz – see its forms here; note das Herz does NOT change in the Accusative singular).
  • Usage is changing. Native speakers are increasingly leaving the -n/-en endings off singular weak nouns. In any case, no one is ever likely to misunderstand you if you forget a weak noun ending. ==> The most important reason to know about weak nouns is so that you will consider the possibility that when you hear e.g. “den Studenten” or “den Namen,” the noun may well be singular. And native speakers may be impressed if you do remember these endings 🙂
  • Which masculine nouns are weak nouns? There’s no reliable pattern, but:
    • Most masculine nouns ending in -e are weak: der Name, der Kollege [=colleague], der Experte, der Riese [=giant]), der Gedanke [=thought], der Wille [=will, as in the will to do something; the end-of-life will is das Testament]
    • Many nouns referring to male professions or male animals: der Student, der Praktikant [=intern], der Athlet, der Soldat [=soldier], der Chirurg [=surgeon], der Assistent [=assistant], der Prinz, der Idiot [haha, does this count as a male professsion?], der Bär, der Affe [=ape], der Elefant
    • Miscellaneous “other” nouns. Especially good to know: der Automat [=vending machine], der Held [=hero], der Mensch [=human being], der Nachbar [=neighbor], der Typ [=dude, guy], der Planet, der Satellit
    • N-nouns ending in -e and the most important N-nouns ending in -r (Herr, Nachbar) just add an -n; (almost) all others add an -en.
    • A few N-nouns ending in -e add -ens (instead of -en) in the Genitive singular, notably: des Namens [der Ursprung des Namens = the origin of the name], des Gedankens [Da war wohl der Wunsch der Vater des Gedankens: There the wish was likely the father of the thought, i.e. that was wishful thinking], des Willens [Triumph des Willens was a notorious Nazi propaganda movie], des Glaubens [Bekenntnis des Glaubens = the “Confession of Faith” in a Christian church service]
  • Here is a great learnoutlive page about N-Nouns (Weak Nouns), with much more detailed info.