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I have been trying to understand the genitive case, particularly in the German language. I think I understand the genitive case for nouns, but I am still unsure as to its usage with pronouns. From my understanding, the fragment der Hund meiner should be correct (though, as I understand it, the genitive case is becoming fairly uncommon). Is that so? If that is correct, what about the following:

  1. das Buch meiner
  2. die Tasche meiner
  3. die Kinder meiner

Does the genitive case need to agree with the gender/plurality of the word it is modifying?

I speak Russian natively, and I haven't had much trouble understanding the nominative, accusative, and dative cases in German via analogies to Russian, but I have been stuck on the genitive case, partly, I think, because it is also not used much in Russian (at least not in this form - in Russian it is most often seen in negations). It seems to me that the fragment собака меня (which should translate to German literally as der Hund meiner) makes logical sense*, though it is not ever used.

*In Russian, the accusative and genitive declensions of pronouns are identical so меня can mean both the accusative declension (as in, mich) and the genitive declension (as in, meiner). In this fragment, I mean to use it in the genitive declension, the way one might say собака женщины (gen.), which I believe translates to der Hund der Frau.

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  • I don't quite understand why you think that "der Hund meiner" works as a translation of "the dog is mine". The first phase lacks a verb, which can't be omitted in German, just as it can't be omitted in English.
    – RHa
    Jul 5 at 10:17
  • You're right, I should change that to "the dog of me". Jul 5 at 12:35

4 Answers 4

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A wording like 'Der Hund meiner' sounds wrong to me in this form, but might have worked a hundred years ago (not sure). One would use 'Mein Hund'. But it is no complete sentence.

What works is using it adverbially:

Der Hund ist meiner.

Of course in the usual pronoun usage followed by the word it refers to:

Der Hund meiner Schwester ist draußen.

Consequently when it describes the dog itself, it precedes it here, too:

Mein Hund ist draußen

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  • "Der Hund meiner" passt vorzüglich bei "Der Hund meiner Mutter". :) Jul 5 at 18:45
  • If I were to make it into a complete sentence by saying Der Hund meiner ist groß., is that something that you think would have been a correct sentence at a certain point in (recent) history, before the genitive form started disappearing? Also, the word meiner in der Hund ist meiner is not the genitive case of ich, but instead the possessive pronoun (in the nominative case), correct? Jul 7 at 15:22
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    @PrimeNumbers not sure whether it was ever used this way... I have not encountered it yet. But yes, 'meiner' is the possessive pronoun. Jul 7 at 15:34
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No, the genitive case of the possessive can be used as the equivalent of the English phrase of me when it's about an object in sentence but not if it is used attributively.

So the English sentence:

He takes care of me.

can be translated as:

Er nimmt sich meiner an.

But when translating a phrase like the dog of mine, the proper translation is mein Hund or der Hund von mir, where usually the first translation is the preferred one. Der Hund meiner does not work here.

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  • Woo... da geht das Herz auf. Aber in der Alltagssprache wirst Du komisch angeguckt werden, wenn Du "Er nahm sich meiner an" formulierst; das ist inzwischen schon sehr gehobener Sprachstil an der Grenze zum Snobismus. Jul 5 at 13:47
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    So the genitive case for pronouns is used only with verbs which take an object in the genitive case? Jul 7 at 15:47
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Grammar is not the science of building fragments of sentences. Grammar is the science of joining words together to create full sentences.

The fragments you provide in your questions are all incomplete. They can exist in German sentences, but they are not closed units.

Here is a full sentence:

Der Hund meiner Schwester ist schwarz.
The dog of my sister is black.

The word »meiner« follows »Hund« immediately, but still the two words don't belong to each other. The part »der Hund meiner Schwester« is a nominal group which has the role of the subject in this sentence. Because it's the subject, the whole group is in nominative case, which means that the core of this group and its determiner must also be in nominative case. The core is noun »Hund« and its determiner is the definite article »der«. So, insider this group the words »der« and »Hund« belong together.

The part »meiner Schwester« is another nominal group. Its core is the noun »Schwester« and it also has a determiner, but this determiner is not an article, but the possessive pronoun »meiner«. But this whole nominal group (»meiner Schwester«) is a right genitive attribute of the core of the outer nominal group:

[Der Hund (meiner Schwester)] ist schwarz.

Each pair of brackets encloses a nominal group. The 4 words long group in square brackets is the subject of the sentence. It is in nominative case. The 2 words long group in round brackets is the right genitive attribute of the noun »Hund« which is the core of the group in square brackets.

The gender of the possessive pronoun must match with the core noun to which it belongs, so it must match with »Schwester« which is a feminine noun, so the possessive pronoun must be feminine too:

Der Hund meiner Schwester ist schwarz.
Der Hund meines Bruders ist schwarz.
Der Hund meines Kindes ist schwarz.

The possessive pronoun is not connected to the core of the outer nominal group. The noun »Hund« is masculine, but still the pronoun of the inner group must match with the core of the inner group.

Der Hund meiner Schwester ist schwarz.
Die Katze meiner Schwester ist schwarz.
Das Kaninchen meiner Schwester ist schwarz.


What we've discussed here was a right genitive attribute. There is also a left genitive attribute:

Meiner Schwester Hund ist schwarz.
My sister's dog is black.

The outer nominal group (»meiner Schwester Hund«) no longer contains a determiner, because the left genitive attribute now takes this role. The inner nominal group (»meiner Schwester«) is still the same as before. It is a genitive attribute, but now it stands left of the noun who's attribute it is.

Using a genitive attribute on the left side is rare and not very common when this attribute is a nominal group with more than one word. »Meiner Schwester« has two words, so you better use it as right genitive attribute. But when the attribute is just one word, it is quite common to use it as left attribute. This is often the case when this genitive attribute is a name, because names usually are used without articles:

  • right genitive attribute:

common: Der Hund meiner Schwester ist schwarz.
not common: Der Hund Barbaras ist schwarz.

  • left genitive attribute:

not common: Meiner Schwester Hund ist schwarz.
common: Barbaras Hund ist schwarz.


But genitive case is not only used as the case of an inner nominal group that is an attributes of the cores of an outer nominal group. There are also genitive objects:

Irene bedurfte meiner Hilfe.

The German verb bedürfen needs a mandatory object that tells what the subject needs, and bedürfen needs this object to be in genitive case. The nominal group »meiner Hilfe« is in genitive case, but it is not an attribute of something. It is an object, and it is in genitive case, because the verb »bedürfen« wants it to be in this case. And, as before, the possessive pronoun »meiner« is part of the nominal group »meiner Hilfe«, so it belongs to »Hilfe«. There is nothing else in this sentence to which it could belong.


Also in the Russian phrase »собака меня« the two words do not belong together (they are not part of the same grammatical unit), and they do not translate to "der Hund meiner":

  • Моя собака меня укусила.
    Mein Hund hat mich gebissen.
    My dog bit me.
  • Почему собака меня не слушается?
    Warum gehorcht mir der Hund nicht?
    Why doesn't my dog listen to me?
  • моя собака меня очень любит.
    Mein Hund liebt mich sehr.
    My dog loves me very much.
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  • Thank you for your detailed response, however I have a few comments. I indeed did mean to use Hund and meiner as one unit, as in the (hypothetical?) sentence Der Hund meiner ist groß.. Likewise in the Russian case, Собака меня большая, the way one would say Собака этого мужчины большая with этого мужчины being in the genitive case. In the examples you gave in Russian, I believe all the usages of меня are the declension of я in the accusative case, not the genitive (in Russian, pronouns happen to decline identically in those two cases). Jul 7 at 15:43
  • @PrimeNumbers »Собака меня большая« is not »Der Hund meiner ist groß« in German. It is »Mein Hund ist groß.« And also here the word »mein« is in genitive case. It is a genitive attribute, but when pronouns are used as attributes, they do not appear as right attributes, but as left attributes. Jul 9 at 7:03
  • Your complete question would have been much clearer and less misunderstanding, if you would have provided full sentences as examples. Grammar is not the science of joining words to create fragments of speech. Grammas ist the science of joining words to create ffull sentences. If you would have come up with an example like »Der Hund meiner ist groß« together with some additional context, we all would have given much better answers. Jul 9 at 7:07
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It is just about possible to say “der Hund meiner” As a complete sentence, with a break between Hund and meiner and a strong emphasis on “meiner”, and meaning “that dog is mine (don’t touch it)” to someone who doesn’t know about boundaries.

It is not correct German but it would be understood and is stronger than “der Hund ist meiner” which is stronger than “der Hund gehört mir” which is stronger than “Das ist mein Hund”. It’s unusual to use this.

There was another example “Die Tasche meiner”. “Die Tasche meine” is something you might say to a would-be thief who tries to grab and steal your bag, and would be a strong claim of ownership to everyone else, and a threat to the thief.

You wouldn’t likely say “der Hund meiner ist groß”. It would be understood by wrong.

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