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I’ve been wondering what happens when you sign a letter/e-mail in German with something else as a name, for instance Your loving husband, or Your secret admirer, or even The Game Master.

One could think to just use nominative, since there is no context sentence. But I’d be tempted to try dative, imagining some untold part:

(Dieser Brief wurde von) deinem liebevollen Ehemann (geschrieben)


I’ve already seen such untold sentences that force the use of some declination, for example on the Reichstagsgebäude (“Dem deutschen Volke”), that’s why I’m asking.

  • What is the correct declension to use here, and why?
  • Are there some other frequent cases where one needs to take some untold part of the sentence into account?
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    Es ist der Brief, also "dieser Brief" – Iris Dec 11 '16 at 15:17
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Grammatically, the valediction of a letter plus the underlying signature line form a single sentence. I have been trying to go through all possibilities that seem valid in German, but they all boil down to the valediction being an expression wherein the signing entity is the subject; the subject of a sentence typically requires nominative case and thus nominative case is used in the signature line. Compare:

Alles Gute (wünscht dir)
Dein Freund Sepp.

Mit der Hoffnung auf rege Teilnahme an der Hauptversammlung grüßt
Der Vorstand.

The second example is a bit made-up; more often there will be a first-person subject, to which the final line can be considered an apposition:

Ich wünsche Ihnen noch einen schönen Urlaub
Der Personalverantwortliche

In all these examples I used masculine nouns because they can be assigned one of the four cases unambiguously, which is not the case for feminine or neuter nouns.


The second frequent example you mentioned in your question are objects (e.g. statues) which are to be seen as a gift towards somebody; like the phrase on the Reichstag. This can be seen as partial sentences formed around the verb widmen:

(Der Kaiser widmet dieses Gebäude) Dem deutschen Volke

(Diese Statue{acc} widmet) Dem Landesvater […] sein treues Volk{nom}.

I’m not aware of other cases but that is because I don’t usually think about them. In any case, asking for all of them would be too broad; you should ask about them if you encounter them.

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Only Nominative makes sense to me. Dativ I'd associate with the recipient of the letter, in the same way as dem Deutschen Volke denotes the "recipient" of the building.

Regarding your second question, in spoken language parts are often left out. For instance: Wohin gehst du? [Ich gehe] ins Kino.

  • "Wer hat diesen Brief geschrieben" - "Dein Ehemann"; "Wem ist dieses Gebäude gewidmet?" - "Dem deutschen Volke" – Iris Dec 11 '16 at 15:18

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