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Demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are words like ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘every’ and ‘some’.

Demonstrative pronouns

A demonstrative pronoun can take the place of a definite article in a sentence, eg the dog is naughty -> this dog is naughty.

To know which word to pick, you need to know three things:

  • Which demonstrative pronoun you want to use, eg dies/jen/jed etc.
  • The gender of the noun, eg if you want to say ‘that dog’, make sure you know the gender of Hund.
  • What case your noun is going to be in, ie nominative, accusative, dative or genitive.

Useful vocabulary: common demonstrative pronouns

English German
This dies (-er, -e, -es)
That jen (-er, -e, -es)
Each/every jed (-er, -e, -es)
Some manch (-er, -e, -es)
Such solch (-er, -e, -es)
Which welch (-er, -e, -es)

Endings

When you put a demonstrative pronoun into a sentence it needs an ending, and these follow the same patterns as the definite article.

Note that in the case of ‘das‘ the ending is ‘es’ instead of ‘as’ (das Auto -> jedes Auto).

Here’s the definite article table to remind you.

Definite article (the)

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
Nominative case der die das (es) die
Accusative case den die das (es) die
Dative case dem der dem den (*2)
Genitive case des (*1) der des (*1) der
  1. (*1) = In the genitive, add an -(e)s to the end of the noun, eg ‘jenes Mannes‘.
  2. (*2) = In the dative plural, add an ‘–n’ to the end of the noun, eg ‘diesen Kindern‘.

For example, in the sentence ‘I love that dog’:

  1. Find the correct column for the gender of your noun – ‘dog’ is masculine, so ‘der Hund‘.
  2. Follow it down to the correct case – ‘I love that dog’ is accusative, so ‘den Hund‘.
  3. Adapt the demonstrative pronoun by putting the ending on it – that is ‘jenen‘.
  4. So ‘I love that dog’ is ‘Ich liebe jenen Hund‘.

Practise using the reference table

Nominative examples

  • Every dad should play football (Vater – masc) -> Jeder Vater soll Fußball spielen.
  • This class is really nice (Klasse – fem) -> Diese Klasse ist wirklich nett.

Accusative examples

  • I’ve already seen this film (Film – masc) -> Ich habe diesen Film schon gesehen.
  • I find such ideas dangerous! (Ideen – pl) -> Ich finde solche Ideen gefährlich.

Dative examples

  • From which platform does the train depart? (Zug – masc) -> Von welchem Gleis fährt der Zug?
  • I’m giving that lady my seat (Frau – fem) -> Ich gebe jener Frau meinen Platz.

Genitive examples

  • The voices of some teachers are monotonous (Lehrer – pl) -> Die Stimmen mancher Lehrer sind eintönig.
  • In spite of every problem I’m here (Wetter – neut) -> Trotz jedes Problems bin ich hier.

Common mistakes made by English speakers

  • Not putting endings on demonstrative pronouns.

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