This section provides easy to understand explanations to help you get the most out of your German Study Card. It goes through the layout and content, and it gives you a brief explanation of each topic with examples.
If you come across an English Grammar Term you are not familiar with, check the Glossary section on the website. Remember that you can use your German Study Card with any textbook you may be using.
Practising your exercises out loud helps you absorb the language effectively!
The German Study Card displays 38 independent tables with the most important grammar elements such as pronouns, possessives, adjectives, verb tenses, key words and expressions.
The NOMINATIV PRONOUNS (Subject Personal Pronouns) determine the three main colours used throughout the card. They are the persons who the sentence refers to. In English they are the words I, you, he, she, it, we, you and they.
In German, you need to use specific endings and words for the different persons in different tenses and cases. The colour-coded system will help you find the word needed for a specific person.
The four cases Nominativ, Akkusativ, Dativ and Genitiv, are shown in the following colours:
Get familiar with these colours, and in no time, you’ll see the relation the other tables with similar colour pattern have with each other.
With your card in hand, go through this section to find the explanations of the content of your German Study Card. Or skip to the name of the table you wish to expand your information on.
The section below is intended to be a general explanation on grammar created for you to understand the layout of your card in order to take full advantage of it. By no means should this section be considered a course on its own.
The cases are an important part of German grammar because they determine the endings of articles and adjectives. Also, specific pronouns and prepositions are used depending on the case.
Der Hund beißt den Mann. The dog bites the man.
The dog performs the actions in this sentence, therefore its article der (the) is in the Nominativ case.
Der Hund beißt den Mann. The dog bites the man.
The man is affected by the dog, therefore, its article den (the) is in the Akkusativ case.
Wir backen euch einen Kuchen. We’re baking a cake for you. (pl.)
In the previous example, for you is the answer to the question for whom? Therefore, the preposition used is in the Dativ case. This case is also used after certain prepositions and Dativ verbs.
Das Buch meines Lehrers. The book of my teacher or my teacher’s book.
The possessive adjective with a Genitive case ending shows the possession form in the sentence.
These tables display the Definite and Indefinite Articles in masculine, feminine, neuter and plural.
Masculine: Der Mann – the man
Feminine: Die Frau – the woman
Neuter: Das Brot – the bread
Masculine: Ein Mann – a man
Feminine: Eine Frau – a woman
Neuter: Ein Brot – a (piece of) bread
Examples with cases:
Akkusativ: Ich grüße einen Mann – I greet a man
Dativ: Ich gebe dem Mann ein Buch – I give the book to the man
Genitiv: Ich habe das Buch des Mannes – I have the book of the man
The articles change depending on the cases, so make sure to learn all the different article in the tables.
The Nominative Pronouns or Personal pronouns are used to replace a previously introduced noun. They can decline in three ways. This table shows the Nominativ declension. It’s when the subject of a sentence is the person or thing that acts as a verb.
In German, there are three ways of saying you. In an informal way, singular and plural ( a familiar way) and in a formal way (to express politeness). ich – I du – you (singular, informal) er – he sie – she es – it wir – we ihr – you (plural informal) sie – they Sie – you (singular and plural formal)
This is an important verb which you will be using all the time. This verb is also used as an auxiliary verb so make sure you know it very well.
Wir sind Freunde. We are friends.
Das Wetter ist schön. The weather is nice.
Ist sie da? Is she here?
This is another important verb which you should learn very well as you will use it in other structures as an auxiliary verb.
Ich habe zwei Brüder. I have two brothers.
Wir haben samstags keine Schule. We have no school on Saturday.
Sie hat einen Nebenjob. She has a part-time job.
Adjectives describe a noun or a pronoun. Look at the following sentences:
Your German Study Card contains four tables with information about adjectives.
The first table on the front page, COMMON ADJECTIVES, shows 32 adjectives.
The three tables at the back of your card called DECLENSION OF ADJECTIVES, show the endings you need to add to the adjectives depending whether they have a definite article, indefinite article, or no article at all. They give the ending for the specific gender, number, and case.
Der gute Mann. The good man. = Nominative Masculine with Definite Article
Die schöne Dame. The pretty lady. = Nominative Feminine with Definite Article
Ein kleines Buch. A small book. = Nominative Neuter with Indefinite Article
Eines kleinen Buches. Of a small book. = Genitive Neuter with Indefinite Article
To say: I like his dog, you need to identify the possessive you need. In this case, his is sein. Then, look at the noun and identify which part it plays in the sentence. It’s in Akkusativ because the dog is the affected one, the one that receives the liking. The dog is a masculine noun, so now you have your ending.
So the sentence I like his dog is Ich mag seinen Hund.
Form short sentences and practise them out loud with common nouns to get used to the possessive adjectives.
This table refers to the order you need to follow when constructing a sentence.
If you want to say: Erik is coming home by car today. The sentence has the elements: home (place) by car (manner) and today (time).
Erik kommt heute mit dem Auto nach Hause.
On the centre-left page, your card displays a lot of information about the Present tense. In the centre of the page, you’ll see the endings needed to conjugate the verbs in the colour coded system. The Present tense is used a lot in German because it is used to express many different things:
To form the Present tense is quite easy:
ich lerne, du lernst, er/sie/es lernt, wir lernen, ihr lernt, sie lernen
warten – wart – du wartest, er wartet
The bottom U table in your card shows some irregular stem changes that happen to the du and er/sie/es pronouns.
The verbs on the bottom U table, give you the stem with the change, so you only have to add the ending. Remember that this change only applies to the du and er/sie/es pronouns.
The vowel change can be:
e to i
e to ie
or a to ä
geben – geb-/gib- (change e – i)
ich gebe, du gibst, er/sie/es gibt, wir geben, ihr begt, sie geben
lesen – les-/lies- (change e – ie)
ich lese, du liest, er/sie/es liest, wir lesen, ihr lest, sie lesen
fallen – fall-/fäll- (change a – ä)
ich falle, du fällst, er/sie/es fällt, wir fallen, ihr fallt, sie fallen
The U-bottom table contains these coloured boxes to remind you that the changes only happen in the second and third person singular.
The two tables in your card display a few separable and inseparable prefixes. The German language can create new verbs with the addition of prefixes. When you add a specific prefix to a verb, it can give you a new meaning. Note that not all prefixes have a specific meaning and the same prefix can have different meanings: verschlafen (to oversleep) or versprechen (to promise).
rufen (to call, to shout)
anrufen (to call by phone)
Heute ruft er seine Freundin an. Today he’s calling his girlfriend.
besprechen – to discuss
Wir besprechen die Situation. We’re discussing the situation.
In English the Akkusativ and Dativ Pronouns are me, you, him, her, it, us, you and them. However, in German, there are two different types. One substitutes the Direct Object, and the other one the Indirect Object.
Bill bought flowers for Helen.
Bill bought them for her.
These pronouns use the same colour coded system for easy reference.
Ich liebe dich. I love you.
Du liebst mich. You love me.
Das Mädchen trinkt die Milch. The girl drinks the milk. (milk is feminine)
Das Mädchen trinkt sie. The girl drinks it.
mich – me
dich – you (singular informal)
ihn – him (it masculine)
sie – her (it feminine)
es – it
uns – us
euch – you (plural informal)
sie – them
Sie – you (singular and plural formal)
Mein Vater gibt mir das Buch. My father gives me the book.
My father is the subject
the book is the object
me is the indirect object (I’m given a book, the book affects me, not my father)
Der Lehrer stellt Ihnen die Frage – The teacher asks you the question (you plural formal)
The teacher is the subject. (who?)
The question is the object. (what?)
you is the indirect object. (to whom?)
mir – me
dir – you (singular informal)
ihm – him (it masculine)
ihr – her (it feminine)
ihm – it
uns – us
euch – you (plural informal)
ihnen – them
Ihnen – you (singular and plural formal)
Wir sehen uns. The literal translation would be we’ll see each other, but the idiomatic meaning is see you later.
Er setzt sich auf den Stuhl. He sits (himself) on the chair.
Sie interessiert sich für Deutsch. She’s interested (herself) in German.
Ich schminke mich. I’m putting on makeup.
Julian und Megan küssen sich. Julian and Megan kiss each other.
They can be in Akkusativ and Dativ. However, they are mostly used in Akkusativ. The only two which differ in the Dativ form are mich/mir and dich/dir.
Ich wasche mich. I’m washing myself. (one object, mich)
Ich wasche mir die Hände. I’m washing my hands. (two objects: mir and die Hände)
Ich ziehe mir einen Mantel an. I’m putting on a coat. (on myself)
Ich koche mir Kaffee. I’m making (myself) coffee.
This means there is/ there are.
Es gibt ein Problem. There is a problem.
Es gibt nichts im Fernsehen. There’s nothing on TV.
Samstags gibt es Live Musik da. There’s live music there on Saturdays.
The table in your card displays the Relative Pronouns for each case in masculine, feminine, neuter and plural. Remember that a relative pronoun is used to connect a clause or phrase to a noun or pronoun: that, who, whose, which, etc.
Das Glas, das vom Tisch gefallen ist, ist gebrochen. The glass that fell off the table is broken.
Das Buch, das ich lesen will, ist Der Kleine Prinz. The book that I want to read is the Little Prince.
Das ist das Haus, in dem ich gewohnt habe. That’s the house (that) I lived in.
This table in your card displays a few Conjunctions. They are words like: when, before, as, that, after, because, etc.
For example, if you say: Because I’m tired. It doesn’t make any sense; this sentence means that you have said something else before, like: I’m not going to the gym tonight because I’m tired. This is the purpose of the conjunction. It joins two sentences together for them to make sense.
Wenn ich reich wäre, würde ich mir ein grosses Haus in den Bergen kaufen. If I was rich, I would buy (myself) a big house in the mountains.
Ich kaufe mir etwas zu essen, weil ich Hunger habe. I’m buying something to eat because I’m hungry.
Mach deine Arbeit fertig, bevor du nach Hause kommst. Finish your work before you come home.
Get familiar with the layout of the Present Perfect in your card. It will be easier for you to identify the different types of verbs.
spielen (to play)
spiel – stem
ge + spiel + t = gespielt
Sie hat gut gespielt. She played well.
zumachen (to close)
zu mach – stem
zu + ge + stem + t = zugemacht
Wir haben die Tür zugemacht. We closed the door.
entdecken (to discover)
entdeck – stem
stem + t = entdeckt
Christopher Columbus hat Amerika entdeckt. Christopher Colombus discovered America.
sprechen (to speak)
sproch – stem
ge + stem + en = gesprochen
Du hast zu schnell gesprochen. You spoke too fast.
Er hat mein Buch nicht gelesen. He didn’t read my book.
arbeiten – gearbeitet
Ich habe gearbeitet – I worked / I have worked
studieren – studiert
Du hast studiert – You studied / you have studied.
entdecken – entdeckt
zumachen – zugemacht
This table displays the endings needed to form the Imperfect for weak verbs (regular verbs), and the conjugation for the verbs sein (to be) and haben (to have).
Kaufen – to buy
Er kaufte. He bought.
Arbeiten – to work
Du arbeitest. You worked.
Es war gut. It was good.
Ich war müde. I was tired.
Ich hatte Kopfschmerzen. I had a headache.
This table displays 8 common irregular participles which you should learn by heart.
denken – to think
Ich habe gedacht – I thought/ I have thought
This table displays the conjugation of the verb werden, needed to form the Future tense. It’s shown in the specific colours for each person.
Wir werden Basketball spielen. We will play basketball.
Look at the ADJECTIVES section above.
Unlike English, German’s nouns have a masculine, feminine and neutral gender. While it’s easier if you learn the noun with its gender, some endings and categories can follow a pattern. This table displays some masculine, feminine and neuter endings.
der Garten (the garden)
die Universität (the University)
das Mädchen (the girl)
This table displays the two form to negate sentences in German.
Er schläft nicht. He’s not sleeping.
Sie liest das Buch nicht. She’s not reading the book.
Ich will keinen Apfel essen. I don’t want to eat an apple.
Ich habe keinen Kaffee, sondern Tee bestellt. I didn’t order coffee, but tea.
Prepositions connect a noun or pronoun with another word. This table displays common prepositions. The colour-coded system shows the case that is needed in the following article or noun.
To express movement, direction, use Akkusativ.
To say where something is (position) use Dativ.
Ich lege den Buch auf den Tisch. I put the book on the table. (direction)
Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch. The book is on the table. (position)
Example in Akkusativ:
Er arbeitet für eine große Firma. He works for a big company.
Example in Dativ:
Peter kommt aus Amerika. Peter comes from America.
Example in Genitive:
Während der Woche. During the week.