German Cases Exercise – Masculine

Hello everyone,

and welcome back to our
brain wrecking, cramp inducing, no mercy having German summer boot camp.
Yup, that’s a thing now :)!
Last week, we got sweaty over the question how to translate before and after and this week, we’ll take on one of everyone’s favorite grammar topics:

Cases

And we’ll do something a little bit unusual, something that is kind of rare to find but that I think might be really helpful… we’ll eliminate gender from the equation.

Cases are quite a big topic. There’s the different endings for different word groups, then the question of which case to use with verbs and which case to use with prepositions. And overall it’s way too much to digest at once, so it’s broken down into little chunks. Like… the section about Accusative case in a beginners book. Or a chart of the definite articles for all cases. Or a lecture about Two Way Prepositions and which case to use.
There are many ways, to break up the big topic cases into smaller chunks, but there is one thing that most textbooks and exercises you can find online have in common… they deal with all three genders at a time.
And I’m not so sure this is very helpful. 
You see, the grammatical gender itself has NOTHING to do with cases in the sense that they don’t influence each other. They just both influence which entry of a table is correct.
But picking the right gender for a noun and the right case are two completely independent tasks. If you got the case right but you were wrong about the gender, your answer will be wrong and you’ll have this little moment of failure. And maybe you don’t even know whether the case or the gender was the problem.
And another thing is, that you can’t build up automatisms if you’re constantly gender hopping. Let me give you an example…

  • I see a dog. It is running.

It translated to er, because Hund is masculine in German. For an English speaker it is already an effort not to say “es” here. By knowing the gender, by knowing that it’s NOT es, your free up brain capacity that can actually really notice this it and thus build awareness.
Not sure if that made sense. But either way… I want to try out a new kind of exercise and see how it works for you and how you like it.

The exercise

And I’ll give a warning right away…

!! This exercise is a challenge for B1 learners  !!

You can of course try it as a beginner. In fact, you might learn a LOT. But it will be virtually impossible for you to get even close to 50% correct. And even for B1 learners, it is a challenge.

So here’s what we’ll do: I’ll give you a statement in English and you have to translate it, using the proper words in the proper case.
And you’ll need pretty much the entire case skill set… Here’s an example.

  • “I see a dog. It is sitting on a table. Is it yours?”
    “No, I don’t have a dog.”
  • “Ich sehe einen Hund. Er sitzt auf einem Tisch. Ist es deiner?”
    “Nein, ich habe keinen Hund.”

Articles, pronouns, indefinite pronouns, possessives, negations, two way prepositions… it’s pretty much all there, except for adjective endings and noun endings.
But what you don’t need to worry about is the gender. Dog is masculine, table is masculine. All these nouns will be masculine. So you can forget about the other genders completely. Still, I know it’s quite a tough exercise.
But the goal isn’t to just fill in some gaps with the correct form from a table.
The goal is rather that you build up a feeling how a masculine entity “moves” through an everyday statement or dialogue. We’ll go over lots of really common situations, and you’ll see that there’s a rhythm to it. And even if you feel lost in the beginning, I’m pretty sure you’ll get better toward the end.
If you have to answer something and you just pick the right answer based on gut feeling… PERFECT!! That’s the goal. And if you get it wrong, that’s also great because then you can analyze why you made a mistake and that’ll (slowly) build gut feeling.

Now, of course translation is a super mega challenge, so if you feel like that’s too much for now,  then just click on the “?” to get the German version with gaps to fill. NO SHAME IN THAT!!
The solution is in the audio and you can also show it by clicking the circle O.
And if you want, you can type your solution into the text field. It doesn’t check it but you can compare it with the correct answer.

Oh and one more thing… I have a few examples where I’m using the possessive her and hers. I didn’t notice it right away, but now I realized that this might be confusing, since I said everything is masculine. The thing that is hers is masculine, not her herself.
I thought about changing the examples, but then I left them in because I thought it’s good to have this contrast between sein- (his)  to ihr- (her) in the exercise.
Just wanted to mention that :).

Oh and yet another thing…. ONLY the nouns that are bold are all masculine. The ones you have to do the case work with.If you do translation, you will have to deal with all genders. Forgot to mention that but some people pointed that out in the comments :).
So now, I’d say… viel Spaß!!

What? Oh… you want a table with all the options?
Well, nope… since we’re doing pronouns and articles and possessives and all that, it would be a bunch of tables. The idea is NOT that you use a table. Just try to do it from your head, and if you don’t know an option… write it down. You’ll need it again. I think that’s the better way to learn than just picking a table cell.

***

1.
I would like a coffee.
Ich hätte gern ____ Kaffee.
Ich hätte gern einen Kaffee.

2.
“Do you know the man there?”
“No, I have never seen him.”
“Kennst du ____ Mann da?”
“Nein, ich habe ____ nie gesehen.”
“Kennst du den Mann da?”
“Nein, ich habe ihn nie gesehen.”

3.
“Did you like the movie?”
“Yeah, I found it really good.”
“Hat dir ____ Film gefallen?”
“Ja, ich fand ____ sehr gut.”
“Hat dir der Film gefallen?”
“Ja, ich fand ihn sehr gut.”

4.
I’m waiting for the bus. It‘s late again.
Ich warte auf ____ Bus. ____ kommt mal wieder zu spät.
Ich warte auf den Bus. Er kommt mal wieder zu spät.

5.
Thomas is calling his brother and tells him where he is.
Thomas ruft ____ Bruder an und sagt ____, wo er ist.
Thomas ruft seinen Bruder an und sagt ihm, wo er ist.

6.
Do you like the wine or is it too strong for you?
Magst du ____ Wein, oder ist ____ dir zu stark?
Magst du den Wein, oder ist er dir zu stark?

7.
“Have you seen the new Star Wars movie?”
“Yeah, it was really really really really really really good.”
“Hast du ____ neuen Star Wars Film gesehen?”
“Ja, ____ war wirklich wirklich wirklich wirklich wirklich wirklich gut.”
“Hast du den neuen Star Wars Film gesehen?”
“Ja, er war wirklich wirklich wirklich wirklich wirklich wirklich gut.”

8.
I just got a call from my boss.
Ich habe grade ____ Anruf von ____ Chef bekommen.
Ich habe grade einen Anruf von meinem Chef bekommen.

9.
I just called my boss.
Ich habe gerade ____ Chef angerufen.
Ich habe gerade meinen Chef angerufen.

10.
Maria told him about her plan for the date.
Maria hat ____ von ____ Plan für das Date erzählt.
Maria hat ihm von ihrem Plan für das Date erzählt.

11.
I have to go to the supermarket. I hope it is still open.
Ich muss in ____ Supermarkt. Ich hoffe ____ ist noch offen.
Ich muss in den Supermarkt. Ich hoffe er ist noch offen.

12.
I had an argument with my flatmate. He doesn’t clean and never brings out the trash.
Ich habe mit ____ Mitbewohner gestritten. ____ putzt nicht und bringt nie ____ Müll raus.
Ich habe mit meinem Mitbewohner gestritten. Er putzt nicht und bringt nie den Müll raus.

13.
“Have you talked to your professor yet?”
“No, I’ll meet with him this afternoon.”
“Hast du schon mit ____ Professor gesprochen?”
“Nein, ich treffe mich mit ____ heute Nachmittag.”
“Hast du schon mit deinem Professor gesprochen?”
“Nein, ich treffe mich mit ihm heute Nachmittag.”

14.
My grandpa will turn 60 tomorrow and I’ll give him a whisky as present.
____ Opa wird morgen 60 und ich schenke ____ ____ Whisky.
Mein Opa wird morgen 60 und ich schenke ihm einen Whisky.

15.
Maria has lost her passport. That’s why she doesn’t have one at the moment.
Maria hat ____ Pass verloren. Deshalb hat sie im Moment ____.
Maria hat ihren Pass verloren. Deshalb hat sie im Moment keinen.

16.
“Damn, I don’t have a bottle opener. Do you have one?”
“No, I don’t have one either.”
“Mist, ich habe ____ Flaschenöffner. Hast du _____?
“Nein, ich habe auch ____.”
“Mist, ich habe keinen Flaschenöffner. Hast du einen?
“Nein, ich habe auch keinen.”

17.
“Oh wow, your dog is soooo cuuuute.”
“It’s not mine.”
“Oh wow, ____ Hund ist soooo süüüüß.”
“Das ist nicht ____ .
“Oh wow, dein Hund ist soooo süüüüß.”
“Das ist nicht meiner.

18.
My dog ist smarter than yours.”
“No, it‘s not.”
____ Hund ist klüger als ____.”
“Nein, ist ____ nicht.”
Mein Hund ist klüger als deiner.”
“Nein, ist er nicht.”

19.
Maria gives her bra to her boyfriend but it‘s too wide for him.
Maria gibt ____ Freund ____ BH, aber ____ ist ____ zu breit.
Maria gibt ihrem Freund ihren BH, aber er ist ihm zu breit.

20.
Have I told you about the wine, from which you don’t get drunk?
Habe ich dir schon von ____ Wein erzählt, von ____ man nicht betrunken wird?
Habe ich dir schon von dem Wein erzählt, von dem man nicht betrunken wird?

***

Yeay, you made it.
I’m super mega curious… how did you do? Was it difficult? Was it too difficult? Do you hate me now?
Seriously, do you like this kind of exercise and do you think it is helpful for getting a feeling for cases? Let me know all your feedback (good and bad) in the comments.
As I said, it’s an experiment :).
Either way, I hope you enjoyed it and learned something. Have a great week and till next time.

for members :)

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RuthE
RuthE

I did lousy, less than 50%. And I love it! I could feel the little tendrils of Sprachgefühl growing. Separating it out by gender is incredibly helpful! I would LOVE to let all those charts gather dust, and rely on Sprachgefühl a lot more. Thank you!!

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak

Dog is masculine, table is masculine. All these nouns will be masculine. So you can forget about the other genders completely.
Oh whoops. I’m a forgotten woman. May I do this exercise ?
Seriously was there a reason behind this? I thought there were more feminine nouns than masculine or neuter.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers

I’m guessing masculine is most convenient for an exercise like this because the case endings are most distinct from each other – the definite article in each case is different (der, den, dem, des), unlike feminine or neuter. That means that it’s harder to get things right by guessing, rather than actually “sensing” which case fits.

Anjela
Anjela

I think the excercise is perfect as it is, because you don´t have to think the whole time, if you get the correct gender of the word or not. This is a good way to concentrate on the the most important: the cases. I won´t think too much why exactly he starts with the masculine nouns and not with the feminine, because that´s not the point. And as the title suggests, more are to come.

aoind
aoind

Forgive the mansplanation but I think it’s pretty evenly balanced on the gender split. Roughly 40% masculine, 40% feminine and 20% neuter. If anything, masculine edges it. Here’s something I found on the internet:

“The distribution of the three genders in German is as follows. There are 4164 monomorphemic nouns listed in the CELEX database (Baayen, Piepenbrock, & Gulikers, 1995). Fifty-one of these have multiple genders (e.g., der See [the lake]vs. die See [the sea]). Of the remaining 4113 entries, 1758(42.74%) have masculine gender, 1567 (38.10%) have feminine gender, and 788 (19.16%) are neuter”

Seriously though, if you’re going to take gender out of the equation there’s no point using feminine-only or neutral-only examples because there is no article change between nominative and accusative.

demoneyes136
demoneyes136

For feminine nouns the nominative (die) is the same as the accusative (die) which isn’t helpful for an exercise where you need to be able to tell them apart…

Martinku
Martinku

Hey Emmanuel great exercise! I’m having trouble exactly with Dative and Accusative and this is just perfect, really like the format! :D

One question: in example 19 there is a receiver (in Dative) and the thing being received (in Accusative). But in example 10, that has the same form, both are in Dative. Why is that?

Anonymous
Anonymous

Von always controls the dative case.
Aber
M, hat ihm ihren Plan erklärt .

demoneyes136
demoneyes136

–One question: in example 19 there is a receiver (in Dative) and the thing being received (in Accusative). But in example 10, that has the same form, both are in Dative. Why is that?

I think the problem here is that “told” in English doesn’t need a “to” so “Maria told him” looks like accusative but isn’t really. If however you think of it as “Maria explained to him” it might be clearer why it needs the dative.

A sentence can have multiple indirect objects e.g. “He changed from a man to a wolf.”

Bitik
Bitik

Wow,I did good surprisingly for A2 :). My question is, why is it deiner instead of dein in 18.Sorry if it is a bit of a stupid question :d

Dexter
Dexter

Wow.. that was helpful . I actually wrote down my answer first but still I made alot of mistakes.. not only the gender but the way I translated some of my answers which is identical to English(sentence order ) . Can you make more exercises like this.. it is very helpful especially for self learners.

Tristan
Tristan

Hi, just some questions if you don’t mind. No need to answer all of them lol but I thought I’d ask in order to fill them knowledge gaps.

1) For No. 3, why “fand” vs. “habe gefunden”? Is “finden” generally an exception like modal verbs, or is there something specific about this case that requires the past conjugation rather than the present perfect?
2) Regarding No. 4, what would the difference in meaning be if were to use “nochmals” instead of “mal wieder”? That’s what I put first :/
3) I still don’t know when to use “magen” vs “gefallen”…
4) Is there a one-word colloquial equivalent for using “wirklich” like six times in a row? Doesn’t “echt” kinda capture that connotation?
5) In my answer to No. 8, I switched the placement of “einen Anruf” and “von meinem Chef”, putting the genitive phrase first instead. Does that sound weird? Am I emphasizing the wrong noun with this word order?
6) On No. 11, would “zum” not be used instead of “in den”? I thought “in den” would highlight the action of entering the establishment versus traveling TO the location in general.
7) For No. 15, is “deswegen” also appropriate? I have a hard time differentiating the two besides the tendency to also use “deshalb” in translations of English “therefore”.
8) So… in No. 17, you wrote “das” and not “er”. Am I on the right track in saying the justification comes from “das” being used more as a demonstrative, like “that”? If the dog were actually his, could he respond saying “Er ist ja süß”? (It seems like the answer to No. 19 may relate somehow.)
9) So is “weit” more like “far” (which I guess could be “fern” too, right?) and breit “wide”? I’m seeing both listed as appropriate and common translations for “broad” and “wide” too.

New site user here :) Really enjoying your explanations on the free articles I’ve been able to read, especially your comments on etymology and meanderings into helpful mnemonics.

Tristan :)

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin

Thanks for asking many questions I also have!

aamtodd
aamtodd

I found it really useful. Got maybe 60-70% right. Tried without the help of the translations so made a few mistakes with those. Would love more of these.

Elsa
Elsa

Hello, Emanuel,
OMG, I haven’t got enough time to keep up with your workout challenges!!!
Typos:
everyday is just the one word
“no merci” instead of “no mercy” – is that a typo or are you trying to say “no, thank you” in French and forgot the n in “no”? (and no, I’m not Canadian, to answer your question from the last post!)
“one of the everyone’s favorite grammar topics” (you have a “the” too many)
“then the question which case to use” (then the question of which case to use)
“but there one thing that most textbooks” (but there is one thing that most textbooks)
“You can of course try it a a beginner” (as a beginner)
“if you don’t know and option” (an option)
“curios” (curious and yes, even in American English!) Curios, BTW, are rare, rather intriguing things, so if you meant to say you’re now super mega rare and intriguing, then you don’t have a typo here :)

Should I even try this exercise? You piqued my curiosity by saying it’s super difficult… but I’m only A2… I’m scared… but I’ll give it a try anyway!

I’ll let you know if I hate you once I’ve attempted this ;)
Bis bald!

Carl
Carl

“then the question which case to use” (then the question of which case to use)

Academic write here . . . “the question of which” is more common and therefore sounds “right,” but careful style guides (check out, e.g., the Chicago Manual of Style) actually say that “the question which / the question whether” is the traditionally preferred form, with “of” considered superfluous (and therefore undesirable in careful usage).

Perhaps too prescriptive, I don’t know. Just wanted to point out that Emanuel has the backing of strong authorities on his side in this case!

Jennifer
Jennifer

So how do you know what level you are?? I’ve been learning German for more than 30 years and I’m not sure what level I am!

Elsa
Elsa

Hi again,
First I need to warn you that the entire solution pops up when you click the question mark in examples 5, 8 and 16! Because I decided not to attempt the translations yet and focus only on the case words, I don’t know if I would have got those right!
But as for the rest:
OMG, OMG, OMG, I’m soooooooo proud of myself!!!! I got ALLLLLLLLL the other case words right :)))))))
Turns out I don’t hate you now, I think you’re a great teacher, loved this workout, please keep doing stuff like this!!

Anjela
Anjela

Great excercise! I have 16 from 20 right! And I can´t wait for the next inspirations.
Bis dann ;)

simon0204
simon0204

das Date : that’s not masculine… I feel betrayed!

Pretty pleased with my score: around 80% :-)

But, I always forget that you have to say ‘ihm’ and not ‘fur ihn’ in sentences like ‘too wide for him’ -> ihm zu breit.

Rob
Rob

Huge thanks you to everyone who paid to support another learner. I’m one of those learners. Can’t thank you enough for supporting this site and the greater language learning community. Your generosity is hugely appreciated. Looking forward to digging in!!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Brilliant! More of the same format please. I’m B1+ and it’s just what I need to lose my stabilisers (metaphorically). Thank you ‍♀️

Tshonmiller
Tshonmiller

I did most of the translation in my head. I did ok. I like the exercise. A good way of building confidence.

Preety Desai
Preety Desai

I’m so proud of myself! I got all the other case words right.

Abgazzß
Abgazzß

Ihre Seite passt genau dazu!

Nach schwerer Arbeit mit so vielen,
der ,es, seiner,
ihm und ihn,
oft braucht ein ”er” was total anderes.
-das heißt=
Etwas feminin!
Wirds gesucht oft in der Zeitung,
DIE Ruberik
Weibliche Begleitung!

Oder – mit der Karrte – aufs Pump es nur zu leisten,
nach den billig Tickets Fernost Reisen!

Abgazzwerke und Seidenblauhemd Fabrik
Egon Krenzstraße 13
Damgarten DDR
4.8.’19

Alison McArd
Alison McArd

I made a mess of every example but I will try again & hope the some of the lesson sticks. Thanks for such a thought provoking exercise.

Toranome
Toranome

Dankeschön für diese Übung, ich mag sie. Wenn du mir eine Frage erlaubst: am Anfang gibt es ein Beispiel, worin steht:

“Ich sehe einen Hund. Er sitzt auf einem Tisch. Ist es deiner?”

Sollte das nicht „Ist er deiner?“ sein?

Catherine
Catherine

This was a particularly good worksheet.I have done it several times. Thank you. Keep up the good work. Cheers
Catherine

aoind
aoind

I’m pretty OK with cases by now, at least writing them out like this but… I am always glad of the chance to practice! So a big thank you. Tiny point re Q 20 – in English you get drunk “from” wine, or more commonly (but coarsely colloquial), “off” wine, or in Bristol where I hail from “off of” wine, but never, AFAIK, “of” wine.

demoneyes136
demoneyes136

18/20 but my grammar has “stuck” remarkably well since school all those years ago. The two that threw me were:

“Ich warte auf den Bus” – I know “auf” takes the accusative with “movement”, and that German sometimes interpreting staying as moving – !!! – , but it didn’t occur to me that warten might behave like bleiben here. But I can see it’s a similar (crazy) logic… :)

“Das ist nicht meiner”. This one clearly confused me because I thought this was an example of the weird case (“predicate nominative”), where subject and object are the same person/thing (or sometimes not the same with sein and some other verbs!) and so both are treated as nominative. As in “Er ist ein Vater” (not einen Vater!) or “Sie wird größer als ich” (not als mich, despite subject and object not the same person/thing). So I wrote Das ist nicht mein… But clearly it isn’t, it’s more an invisible implied noun?! So we learn… And I did get the next similar one right!

–Phil

aoind
aoind

“Meiner” is a possessive pronoun, as is “mein(e)s”. Possessive pronouns differ from the more familiar possessive determiners in that the masculine nominative gets an “er” on the end (e.g. deiner, unserer) and the neuter nominative and accusative get an “es” (or just an “s” if you pefer) (e.g. dein(e)s, seines).

Abgasstufe Es-Zett
Abgasstufe Es-Zett

Fall —Auf
Wenn ein Satz beantwortet die.Frage – Wo ??? + Dative
Wo ist es? Auf dem Tisch.

Wenn es beantwortet die Frage :
Worauf ?
Woran?
Wohin?
÷ Accusitiv
Worauf wartet er?
Auf den Bus.
Wohin liegt er den den Schlüssel?
Auf den Tisch.