Genitive attribute

The genitive

German has four cases: nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. We use the genitive to express possession or ownership.

We can give more detail about a noun with an additional noun in the genitive case, known as a genitive attribute. The genitive attribute tells us who something belongs to.

Noun as genitive attribution

If the genitive attribute is not a proper name, it generally comes after the noun that it is modifying.

Ist das deine Kaffeetasse?
Nein, das ist die Kaffeetasse des Regisseurs.

Ist das Nicos Hut?
Nein, das ist der Hut der Schauspielerin.

Sind das unsere Drehbücher?
Nein, das sind die Drehbücher des Kamerateams.

Sind das eure Mikrofone?
Nein, das sind die Mikrofone der Tonassistenten.

In the genitive, the articles of nouns change. Also, the ending -s is added to most masculine and neuter nouns. Feminine and plural nouns do not take an ending.

der/ein Regisseur des/eines Regisseurs
die/eine Schauspielerin der/einer Schauspielerin
das/ein Kamerateam des/eines Kamerateams
Tonassistenten der Tonassistenten

Nouns ending in an s-sound (-s, , -z or -x), always form the genitive with the ending -es.

Herr Friese ist der Besitzer des Hauses.

Both endings are often possible, especially with single-syllable nouns:

Das Ende des Film(e)s ist sehr traurig.

Der Autor des Buch(e)s ist ein berühmter Schriftsteller.


Grammatical terms in German:

der Genitiv: In German, there are four different forms or categories of noun (cases), called Fälle or Kasus. As well as nominative, accusative, and dative, there is genitive. Nouns take the genitive when they follow certain prepositions or give more information about another noun. With the genitive attribute, we express possession or ownership. The articles take the forms: des/eines, der/einer, des/eines, der/-. Masculine and neuter nouns as well as proper nouns often add an -s at the end.