It’s Mine! How to Correctly Use German Possessive Pronouns

In this post you are going to grips with the German possessive pronouns, how to use them correctly and how they are affected by the German cases.

What are German Possessive Pronouns?

Possessive pronouns are words such as mine, yours, his, hers, theirs, ours etc. These words are used to show ownership or possession of a noun.

In English we actually have both possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives. For example:

  • That is my cake [possessive adjective]
  • That cake is mine [possessive pronoun]

Now I want to hear a big sigh of relief from you, because in this instance, German is actually simpler than English!

In German we don’t need switch between possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns, because they have a one word fits all situations. Let me show you:

  • Das ist meine Torte = That is my cake
  • Diese Torte ist meine = This cake is mine

Let’s take a look at the other German possessive pronouns:

EnglishGerman
my / minemein
your / yoursdein
hissein
hersihr
it’ssein
our / oursunser
your / yours (pl.)euer
their / theirsihr
your / yours (form.)Ihr

German Possessive Pronouns & German Cases

Did that just seem suspiciously easy considering we’re talking about German? Unfortunately it’s not as simple as shoving the appropriate possessive pronoun in front of the noun to claim ownership of it. I wish it was, but it’s our beloved German we’re talking about!

Once again, those pesky German cases require us to do a bit of mental gymnastics in order to speak and write German correctly.

The German cases require us to add the appropriate ending to the pronoun stem shown in the previous table. Let’s take a quick look at the nominative case so you can see what I mean:

  • Das ist mein_ Mann = That is my husband [masculine noun]
  • Das ist meine Frau = That is my wife [feminine noun]
  • Das is mein_ Kind = That is my child [neuter noun]
  • Das sind meine Kinder = These are my children [plural noun]

To keep things as simple as possible, we need to establish the two different types of possessive pronoun:

Dependent Possessive Pronouns: Come before nouns:
Das ist meine Torte = That is my cake

Independent Possessive Pronouns: Replace a previously mentioned noun and answers the question ‘whose? or which?’:
Wessen Torte ist das? Das ist meine = Whose cake is that? It is mine

Both types of possessive pronoun have a different set of endings depending on the case. I know this can seem completely overwhelming, but most of the dependent possessive pronouns share the same endings as the der words, so if you already know a few of these you have a head start.

Let’s take a look at each case in turn.

Nominative Case

Noun GenderDependent PP EndingIndependent PP Ending
Masculine-er
Feminine-e-e
Neuter-(e)s
Plural-e-e

The easiest case, we’ve already seen examples of this in use with me talking about cakes being mine. Ok I like cakes! And I spend most of my time writing these posts in cafés 😉

  • Das ist meine Torte = That is my cake

This statement uses a dependant possessive pronoun, because it appears before the noun (Torte).

  • Wessen Torte ist das? Sie ist meine = Whose cake is that? It is mine

This statement uses an independent possessive pronoun because it replaces the noun.

In this case the endings happen to be the same because we are talking about a feminine noun. Let’s take a look at a masculine noun:

  • Das ist mein_ Kuchen = That is my cake [Dependent PP]
  • Wessen Kuchen ist das? Er ist meiner = That cake is mine [Independent PP]

You can see from the nominative table above that the masculine noun doesn’t require an ending on the possessive pronoun when it is dependent (before the noun). But it does require an -s ending on the possessive pronoun when it is independent (replacing the noun).

Also, German has two words for cake, just sayin’.

Accusative Case

Noun GenderDependent PP EndingIndependent PP Ending
Masculine-en-en
Feminine-e-e
Neuter-(e)s
Plural-e-e

It’s time for the accusative case. If we have a subject in the sentence (that isn’t the noun), then the noun takes the accusative case. Here’s an example:

  • Ich fahre mein_ Auto = I’m driving my car [Dependent PP]
  • Ich mag das andere Auto, aber ich fahre meins = I like the other car, but I’m driving mine [Independent PP]

In this example, you can see how the neuter noun, Auto, demands that the possessive pronoun, mein, takes a different ending depending on whether it is dependent (before the noun) or independent (replacing the noun).

Dative Case

Noun GenderDependent PP EndingIndependent PP Ending
Masculine-em-em
Feminine-er-er
Neuter-em-em
Plural-en-en

On to the dative case. Now if you know your definite article endings for the dative case (der = dem, die = der, das = dem and die = den) you have a head start here because all the possessive pronoun endings are the same as the definite articles endings in the dative case.

  • Ich fahre mit meinem Auto zum Geschäft = I’m driving my car to the shop [Dependent PP]
  • Mit welchem Auto fährst du zum Geschäft? Mit meinem = With which car are you driving to the shop? With mine [Independent PP]

In this example, the preposition mit, demands the dative case (but that’s a whole other subject). Both the dependent and independent pronouns require the same endings.

Genitive Case

As for the genitive case, this case’s main job is to show possession, so it really comes into it’s own here. I think it gives German a different ‘look’ to all the other cases.

Noun GenderDependent PP Ending
Masculine-es
Feminine-er
Neuter-es
Plural-er
  • Das Auto deines Freundes = The car of your boyfriend (Your boyfriend’s car)
  • Das Auto deiner Freundin = The car of your girlfriend (Your girlfriend’s car)

With the genitive case we only encounter dependent possessive pronouns. In the first example you can see the noun which follows the possessive pronoun is masculine, and in the second example it is feminine. The masculine and neuter nouns also gain a -(e)s ending.


Gut gemacht! (well done!) You’ve successfully navigated your way through the maze of German possessive pronouns. In this post you learned:

  • What the different German possessive pronouns are (mein, dein, sein etc.)
  • How the endings added to these possessive pronouns change depending on which case we use
  • What dependent and independent possessive pronouns are.

More Useful Resources For German Grammar Lovers

  • German Prepositions Made Easy – The ultimate guide to all those prepositions: nach, bis, entlang, an, in etc. including how they are affected by the German cases.

  • German Modal Verbs – An introduction to the 6 modal verbs: dürfen, können, müssen, mögen, wollen & sollen.

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