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letzte (no predicative form, strong nominative masculine singular letzter, not comparable) Wiki

I am trying to figure out, as the title suggests, when you use Letzter when its not feminin or plural. I am not the best at grammar, but I have tried my best to understand. I believe that the subject in the sentence has to be what letzter describes cause otherwise it becomes a direct object, hence accusative, is this correct? So I figured I would have to make it into a statement for it to become letzter, but I can not seem to get it to work. Would anyone mind explaining?

edit* So for example I think that it is:

Mein letzter Monat

but

letzten Monat

or maybe it is letzter if you use it just to answer to a question.

Wann war das? Letzter Monat

If this is correct or not I am not sure of, but if it is, then you at least have an example.

2 Answers 2

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I'm pretty sure you're overthinking this, assuming I understand the question correctly. First, it's better not to use the term "direct object" for German grammar. German has "accusative objects" and "dative objects" according to case, and these don't always correspond to the direct and indirect objects in English. For example the verb "helfen"/"to help" take a dative object in German but a direct object in English.

The main point is that "letzte" is just an adjective, so it's declined just like any other adjective, with the exceptions that it not used as a predicate and it's not comparable. Declining adjectives in German is rather complicated, even by German standards, but there are very few irregularities. So you'd use the "-r" ending in the same gender/number/case combinations you use it for any other adjective. This works out to several combinations starting with the masculine nominative case either with no article/determiner or with "ein" or "ein-word" such as "mein" etc. Examples of this are "Mein letzter Job war ..."/"My last job was ...", "Mein letzter Mann sagte ..."/"My last husband said ...". Another combination is feminine dative with no article. Such is the case with "in letzter Zeit", a common phrase which translates roughly to "lately". Finally, it's used with feminine or plural genitive with no article. I don't think this would come up all that much so I won't bother with an example.

As for answers to questions, these are usually single phrases, not complete sentences, so the usual rules of grammar don't apply. I assume you'd use the same declination as if the answer was filled in to make a full sentence: "Welcher Mann sagte das? Mein letzter (Mann sagte das)."

Anyway, this question might be closed because technically it could be answered with a declension table, but a bit more explanation seems warranted.

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  • I think I might be overthinking it, yes. I'm actually swedish, so the use of grammar is decently similar to german. I know that prepositions and some verbs can determine the different cases, but the way the sentences are structured without these prepositions or verbs, can also change the case. Most commonly to accusative since most dativ sentences are already dative because of the preposition. I think the reason for my question, might lie in the fact that I haven't really understood strong declension without articles. I mix it up too much with definite and undefinite articles
    – nisse26a
    Mar 9, 2023 at 14:20
  • Do you think you could explain the sentence: "Villeicht hat sie mein letzter Brief verägert" sie, has to be the subject right? hat verägert is the verb? is then Brief not in accusative? or does "mein" change that? Sorry if this is a weird question
    – nisse26a
    Mar 9, 2023 at 14:30
  • "Brief" is the subject, it made the person you're talking about upset. The person didn't make the letter upset. German word order can easily confuse an English speaker. Literally it's "Perhaps had her my last letter upset" instead of "Perhaps my last letter had upset her."
    – RDBury
    Mar 9, 2023 at 15:47
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Wann war das? Letzten Monat.

Letzten Monat is an adverbial accusative. That's why it must be letzten rather than letzter. Such adverbial accusatives usually mark a duration or a length but they can also mark a point in time.

Mein letzter Monat ist der August.

Those must be both in nominative case because that phrasing A is B is a Gleichsetzungsnominativ which connects the subject der August to a property mein letzter Monat.

Letzten Monat ist er viel gereist.

In this phrase, ist is an auxiliary to the Partizip II gereist. That item letzten Monat is an adverbial accusative that tells when that action ist gereist happened.

There's only a few verbs that go well with a time as an object.

Den letzten Monat rechne ich gerade ab.

That verb abrechnen takes an event as an accusative object, and if you use a time frame as den letzten Monat for that, it means all the bills from that month.

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  • Thank you for the answer, however it is a bit too much for me to take in. Is it worth it to understand this, or should I just go with the normal declensions with -e and -en that I know of and after some time I'll get a subconsiouss grasp of it?
    – nisse26a
    Mar 10, 2023 at 10:20
  • For background information, why the accusative frequently applies to time specifications see this question.
    – guidot
    Mar 10, 2023 at 10:40
  • @nisse26a - For most adults there's no way to skip directly to the subconscious level of understanding grammar. You actually have to understand the rules, then with enough practice applying them you learn to do it subconsciously. It's like driving a car; you first learn the rules of the road and have to think about what to do on each turn, but eventually you're driving with little to no conscious thought involved. Young kids are able to pick up grammar on a subconscious level, but if you're old enough to type then it's probably too late for you.
    – RDBury
    Mar 10, 2023 at 12:32
  • @RDBury I don't know about that honestly. I've seen adults here in Sweden that haven't practiced any grammar and speak with proper grammar (only spoke 1 language before). In my opinion it is harder for adults, but definetly not impossible. I think a big reason is the fact that adults don't go to school and are not corrected as much as children. But that's just my current opinion of the matter
    – nisse26a
    Mar 11, 2023 at 12:46
  • It's sure worth understanding it as there is no simple one case, one use rule in German. Each of the four cases has several uses. For example, most verbs take an accusative object, and an optional dative object. However, hundreds of verbs, many of them common, do not follow that rule. You have to know which verbs that are. And things as cases per preposition and adverbial and absolute accusatives, and absolute genitives come on top of that.
    – Janka
    Mar 11, 2023 at 13:39

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