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I found myself in a situation where I wanted to say:

I’m a beginner, your German is better than mine!

My first attempt was wrong, because I said:

Ich bin Anfänger, dein Deutsch ist besser als mein!

I was corrected and told to use meines instead of mein. Thinking more about it, I knew mein was wrong but couldn’t articulate why meines was right.

Is meines used here because you need the genitive declension of the pronoun mein, since it’s referring to the possessive my German?

I guess I could have avoided the pronoun, and also said:

Ich bin Anfänger, dein Deutsch ist besser als mein Deutsch!

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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

mein is one of the german possessive pronouns mein (ich), dein (du), sein (er), ihr (sie), sein (es), unser (wir), euer (ihr), ihr (sie), Ihr (Sie) (the words in brackets are the corresponding german personal pronouns). They (the possessive pronouns) can be inflected to act as possessive articles:

Mein Deutsch ist besser.

But they can be also used alternatively to the noun:

Mein(e)s ist besser als dein(e)s.

If you include the enbracketed es your language sounds more formal than without.

As another option, one could add articles:

Das Meine ist besser als das Deine.

(This case is controversial, probably Das meine ist besser als das deine is correct as well, see 1, 2, 3 and 4)

But often this is expressed with the ending -ig:

Das Meinige ist besser als das Deinige.

(This case is controversial, probably Das meinige ist besser als das deinige is correct as well, see 1, 2 and 3)

To answer your question: meines is the nominative form. [Note: While it also is the genitive form, this is virtually never used (probably because it's too confusing even for native speakers)]

You can have a look at the following links to increase your understanding:

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1  
"meinem Vater" would be dative, not genitive –  clinch Aug 19 at 15:54
    
Yep, clinch is right: at the moment the + I want to give for "enbracketed" is cancelled out by the last example (wrong case + wrong gender)... –  Mac Aug 19 at 16:02
    
@clinch You're totally right; I corrected it –  Quasimodo Aug 19 at 17:23
1  
Sorry for butting in, Quasimodo - since your answer was accepted I felt that the error in the last bit should be rectified asap. Hope you're not offended! [I got rid of the example altogether, since I literally could not think of a neuter genitive example that a native speaker would use... a masculine example does not help here, imo.] –  Mac Aug 20 at 7:59
    
@Mac That's ok, I agree with you, it wasn't a good example. What do you think about der Inhalt meines Buches? –  Quasimodo Aug 20 at 16:22

No, that's not a genitive declension. It's a neuter declension. Compare:

Mein Sprachstil ist besser als deiner.

Meine Sprache ist besser als deine.

Mein Deutsch ist besser als deines.

Substituting possessive pronouns decline like adjectives, and 'Deutsch' is grammatically neuter.

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Neuter what declension? There is no actual way to declense something into neuter. While it actually is the neuter declension that's used, it is genitive neuter what you want. So genetive declension is not wrong, but also not fully correct.. –  Vogel612 Aug 20 at 1:05
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@Vogel612: It's actually nominative neuter (which looks the same as genitive) –  Mac Aug 20 at 15:43
    
@Mac "Dein Deutsch ist besser als wessen?" vs. "Dein Deutsch ist besser als was?" m.E. sollte es "wessen" sein. –  Vogel612 Aug 20 at 15:45
    
@Vogel612: Lol, ich bin da vorhin auch erstmal eine Zeitlang mit verknoteten Gehirnwindungen dagesessen. Aber gerade die von Dir genannten Fragen führen m.E. eindeutig zu "wer". Dass "deines" natürlich auch die Antwort auf "wessen" ist, liegt daran, dass es ein Possesivpronomen ist - hat aber mit dem Fall im vorliegenden Satz nichts zu tun (sonst könnte man ja auch *"Mein Deutsch ist besser als von deinem" sagen). –  Mac Aug 20 at 15:53
    
@Mac meintest du nicht "Mein Deutsch ist besser als das von dir."? Und inwiefern ist "meines" kein Possesivpronomen? "Das da ist mein(e)s." –  Vogel612 Aug 20 at 16:23

The reference is to "mein Deutsch" which is neuter. If you have a phrase with "Deutsch," then the modifier "mein" does not need the neuter ending.

But when the "mein" word stands alone with "Deutsch" as the antecedent (rather than following), then "mein" needs the neuter "es" ending, and is "meines."

Another example: "Mein Deutsches Buch." (My German book.) "Deutsches" has the "es" adjectival ending, and therefore "mein" does not need it.

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In German its the same as in English.
Your example:
Mein Deutsch ist besser als dein.
in English:
Your German is better than my.

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