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So I've been recently focusing on Genetiv when studying German. I would like to know if Genetiv is really used by Germans in everyday speech and if I could go without it. It's really hard for me to understand all those different forms and at times it just gets very confusing.  :wacky:

If you've dealt with Genetiv before, how did you manage to memorize all the endings and etcetera? Are there any tricks?

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  • 2 months later...
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I've heard that genetiv is kind of going out of style, but it's still important to know how to use it and recognize it, especially in academic contexts. It's easiest to learn it by practice either in speech or writing. Memorizing tables has always been really hard for me.

Der and das change to 'des' and you add an 's' to the end of the noun, or 'es' if the noun ends in s or a sound that makes just 's' difficult to pronounce, or is a single syllable in most cases

"die Tür des Hauses"

"die Krawatte des Mannes"

So I lump der and das together for dativ and genativ. I think the 'der' words that get an -n ending in Akk. and Dat. also get the -n in genativ, but I'm not 100% sure.

Die and die (plural) go to der. There aren't any ending changes as far as I'm aware.

"die Bluse der Frau"

"die Räder der Autos"

it helps a lot if you can lump certain groups together with similar properties, such as the 'der' and 'das' going to 'des' and the 'die's going to 'der'. Helps with dativ as well with 'der' and 'das' going to 'dem'. And in akkusativ with 'die' and 'das' staying the same.

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  • 2 months later...

Littleredcookbook is absolutely correct that even though use of the Genetiv is going out of style and can often sound stuck up or too formal, it's very important to recognize it and use it in formal situations and writing. The Genetiv is being increasingly replaced by the Dativ in modern German (though I've actually heard this isn't as new of a phenomenon as some think).

For example:

"Wegen" ("because of") requires the Genetiv in proper grammar. "Wegen des Wetters" = Because of the weather. However, you'll often hear "Wegen dem Wetter," in conversational German (dem is Dativ).

Using the Dativ where you should use the Genetiv is a tricky thing. Oftentimes, it makes even German people sound a bit uneducated and country-bumpkin-ish if they use it too often or in the wrong context. Personally, I always err on the side of using Genetiv because if a non-native speaker is using Dativ instead, it might just be interpreted as a mistake. Better to have too nice/formal German than too casual or slangish German.

In some cases, especially where the noun is feminine you can't really get around using Genetiv. Here's why:

Proper Genetiv: "Das Haus meiner Familie" (My family's house)

Dativ Version: "Das Haus von meiner Familie"

Essentially you're inserting a completely unnecessary word ("von") and it sounds really awkward and wrong.

So, in summary of a very complicated topic: Learn Genetiv, err on the side of using it rather than Dativ, even if you hear native Germans foregoing it. Once your German is good enough to have a sense of when you can be more casual with it, by all means through it out the linguistic window :)

If you're interested in reading more on the subject, check out the article series "Der Dativ ist dem Genetiv sein Tod," which is about modern German grammatical phenomenons and changes, especially with Gen/Dat.

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  • 3 months later...

I am learning German, according to my teacher genitiv is rarely used, compare to the other three cases. But it's still good to learn about it. Learning new language is not really easy but it can be fun at the same time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting topic. I think there is some parallels with what happened during the transition from Old English to Middle English and then to Modern English, where by the genitive was gradually lost and replaced by the preposition, "of". In the Romance languages,, the Latin genitive was lost entirely to be replaced by "de" and its variations. This seems to be a general trend in European languages.

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