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German Language Rules

German Language Rules

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Published by Andrew Southern
For anyone starting out with German. Very handy.
For anyone starting out with German. Very handy.

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Published by: Andrew Southern on Aug 08, 2010
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01/07/2015

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NEGATION
Often, words and phrases need to be negated. This is done using
kein
and
nicht
.
Kein- 
negates a word. Similar to “no”. It is used and conjugated like “ein”.
Er hat drei Kinder.He has three children.Er hat keine Kinder.He has no children.Ich habe keine Idee.I have no idea.“Nicht” always negates a verb. It appears either behind the direct object (here placedbefore the indirect object) or before short adverbs/adverbial phrases. 
Nicht- 
negates a clause or full sentence. Similar to “not”.
Ich werfe den Müll nicht in den Rhein.I will not throw the rubbish in the Rhein.Er hilft nicht gerne.He wont help.Ich spreche nicht Französisch.I dont speak French.“Kein” is always used with a noun and “nicht” with a verb.
Kein and nicht.
Ich mache eine Reise.Ich mache keine Reise.Ich reise nach Hamburg.Ich reise nicht nach Hamburg.Another form of negation is through the use of 
ungern
. It means “to dislike” and isthe opposite of “gern”, meaning “to like”. It appears like “nicht” after the verb.
Nicht, ungern and kein.
Ich jogge
nicht
am Sonntag, aber amSamstag.I can’t jog on Sunday, but on Saturday.Ich jogge
ungern
.I prefer not to jog (but maybe I will).Ich bin
keinen
Jogger.I am not a jogger.
PREPOSITIONS
Prepositions AccusativeDativeAccusative and dative
durch- through, by (durchs)aus- out, fromauf- on, to (aufs-
dat 
)*für- for (fürs)bei- with (beim)an- on, at/against, to (ans-
dat 
)*gegen- about, againstnach- afterin- in, into (ins-
dat 
)*um- around, at (ums)seit- since hinter- behindohne- withoutvon- from, of, by (vom)vor- in front, before, agozu- to (zum & zur)zwischen- betweenmit- withneben- besideüber- over, aboutunter- under, near All the forms in (...) are short forms, e.g. durchs = durch das, fürs = für das, beim =bei dem. These are used in spoken language.1
 
Correct written language does include some of these short forms. In many cases youhave to use the long form, for example, in written language you should not use “ans”,but “an das”.
Genitive prepositions
au
ss
erhalb- outside ofanstatt- instead oinnerhalb- inside ofwährend- during, whiletrotz- in spite ofwegen- because o
PERSONAL PRONOUNS
Personal, reflexive and possessive are the three types of pronoun.
Personal pronounsNominativeAccusativeDativeGenitive
ichmichmirmeindudichdirdeinihreucheucheuewirunsunsunseerihnihmseinsiesieihrihesesihmseinsie (plural)sieihnenihSie (polite)SieIhnenIhNotice how the personal pronouns change according to the case.
Case.Noun.Nominative
Der Mann
Dative
Dem Mann
Genitive
Des Mann
 Accusative
Den Mann
REPLACING A DIRECT OBJECT WITH A RELATIVE PRONOUN
Often, the
direct object
of the main clause is replaced by a
relative pronoun
.
Relative pronounsMasculineFeminineNeuterPluraNominative
derdiedasdie
 Accusative
dendiedasdie
Dative
demderdemdenen
Gentive
dessenderendessenderenWhen replacing a direct object with a relative pronoun the direct object switchesplaces with the indirect object, no longer appearing in the final position.2
 
Replacing a noun with a pronoun
Ich gebe der Frau das Frühstück. I give the woman the
 
breakfast.Ich gebe es der Frau.I give it to the woman.Ich gebe es ihr.I give it to her.Notice how the indirect object/pronoun remains dative and the direct object/pronounremains accusative.It is important to remember which nouns are the direct and indirect objects andsubject of a sentence, and so their case, when replacing them.Das
Zimmermädchen
kam kurz darauf und brachte die gewünschte Siefe. Als
sie
sie mir gab, fragte sie: „Welche Zimmernummer, bitte?“
Er 
warf einen mitleidigen Blick auf meinem Koffer. Als
er 
ihn nahm, fragte er:„Welche Zimmernummer mein Herr?“When there is a main and subordinate clause the relative pronoun appears after theconjunction in the subordinate clause. The main verb of the subordinate clause takesthe final position, either in the infinitive (when a modal is used) or in the perfect tense.
Main clause.Subordinate clause.
Wir haben eine Bahncard,mit
der 
 
wir 
durch ganz Deutschland fahren
können
.We have a railcard, with it we can travel through the whole of Germany.Notice how the modal verb takes the final position, after the main verb.Sometimes, the article is dropped completely. For example:Möchest du in der Zukunft Harfe spielen?No articlechest du in der Zukunft eine Harfe kaufen?ArticleWhen replacing a noun with a
personal pronoun
use the corresponding
 
third personpronoun.
PronounTranslationGende
esitneutraleritmasculinesieitfeminineDer, die or das are only used when greater emphasis is required. For example, if someone was pointing at something.
ARTICLES
 Articles: 1-4 are declined as
definite articles
, 5-9 as
indefinite articles
and 10-14as
 plural 
articles.
1) dieser8) ein bisschen- a little2) jeder- each9) andere- othe3

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