What are the cases?
The Year 10 students began by learning what the cases are. Put simply, they are changes to certain words which allow us to show different meanings. For example, in the sentence ‘the dog bites the man with its teeth’, the dog is in the Nominative case (it’s the subject of the sentence); the man is in the Accusative case (it’s the object of the sentence), and the teeth are in the Dative case (the bite was done by the teeth).
Why do we use them?
There are lots of reasons to use the four cases in German. The students now understand that there is a list of prepositions (words such as in, on, under…) which require specific cases. To help them, the students have been referring to various lists and tables of these different words, and cross-referencing them with their knowledge of each individual case, in order to make decisions about which word to write.
How do we use them?
Well, for German speakers, ‘using a case’ means changing the ending of a word, depending on which case you wish to use. This means the Year 10 students learnt that for the simple English word ‘the’, when using German they must choose between der, or den, or dem, or die, or das – depending on which case they need to use.
Cases certainly are a complicated business in the German language, but I reminded the Year 10 students that at least our favourite language has just four – Czech has seven, and some other languages have even more! The students have worked hard to understand the German cases, and they will have lots of chances to practise using them in future pieces of work.