Das ist sein Pass.

In this sentence, why is sein, not seinen? Pass is a masculine word. I’m a little confused!

1 Answer 1


Because it's nominative, not accusative.

Properly speaking it's a predicative nominative. It's part of the predicate but complements the subject.

[Subject] [Predicate]
{pronoun} {copular verb} {noun phrase}
Das       ist            sein Pass.

This subject complement has to be in the same case as the subject, nominative that is.
Indicator for the subject complement is the use of the copular verb sein. There are a few more words that have the same or similar function (for instance, werden).

For reference, an example for accusative would be:

Ich gebe ihm seinen Pass.

  • 1
    Thank you! I just get to learn German. The gender and cases in German made me upset.
    – Olisun
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 8:41
  • @CarstenSchultz I didn't use the term "subject", did I? I added a short explanation on this, though.
    – Em1
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 10:45
  • @CarstenSchultz I wouldn’t be sure. I wouldn’t know how to say which nominative is subject and which is predicative. Hence I would always assume the subject to be placed before sein and the predicative afterwards — and therefore assume that the speaker in ‘sein Pass ist das’ is showing the listener what his pass is. ‘Das ist sein Pass und nicht sein Notizbuch’ vs ‘Sein Pass ist das und nicht das daneben.’
    – Jan
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 11:14
  • 1
    Nominative goes always after sein, bleiben, werden. Just to make things complete.
    – Liglo App
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 12:16
  • 2
    @BarthZalewski If I'm not mistaken there are a few more with similar function that aren't real copular verbs, though. Couldn't find a list, but it's not that important anyways. A few for English are mentioned here, but I guess none of them can take a nominative but adjectives only.
    – Em1
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 12:18

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