Demonstrative and indefinite pronouns
In the previous lessons, we made an introduction to the declension concept in German and covered the declension of substantives, personal and possessive pronouns and adjectives. In this lesson, we go through the declension of demonstrative pronouns and indefinite pronouns.
As you know, the pronouns are used in place of nouns. So, the demonstrative and indefinite pronouns are also used to refer to something or someone, but in a slightly different way.
By demonstrative pronouns we mean words like the following
derselbe: the same one
derjenige: the one who
Such words need to be declined as well in German.
Demonstrative pronouns can replace the definite articles and are declined similar to them. On the other hand, they are used to refer to someone or something more directly than the definite articles.
Some demonstrative pronouns follow exactly the same declension pattern as the definite articles. The declension of some demonstrative pronouns is a combination of the declension of the definite articles and adjectives.
Demonstrative pronouns which are declined as the definite articles
The pronoun “dieser” means “this” and it has the following forms for the nominative case.
dieser (masculine singular), diese (feminine singular), dieses (neuter singular), diese (plural)
As stated above, the declension of “dieser” is exactly the same as the declension of the definite article:
Nominative: dieser Mann, diese Frau, dieses Kind, diese Frauen
Accusative: diesen Mann, diese Frau, dieses Kind, diese Frauen
Dative: diesem Mann, dieser Frau, diesem Kind, diesen Frauen
Genitive: dieses Mannes, dieser Frau, dieses Kindes, dieser Frauen
Two other important demonstrative pronouns which are declined exactly as above are “solcher” which means such and “jener” which means that.
- Mit solchen Leuten kann Ich nicht umgehen (I can’t get on well with such people)
- Diese Brille gefällt mir besser als jene (I like these glasses more than that )
Note that when solch is used before an indefinite article, it’s not declined:
Solch ein Mann (such a man)
Solch eine Frau (such a woman)
But if it stays after an indefinite article, it is declined as an adjective:
Ein solcher Mann
Eine solche Frau
Those whose declension is a combination of the declension of the definite article and adjectives
The pronoun “derselbe” means “the same” and its versions are
derselbe (masculine singular), dieselbe (feminine singular), dasselbe (neuter singular), dieselbe (plural)
Another pronoun similar to derselbe is derjenige. It means “the one”. It has the following forms
derjenige (masculine singular), diejenige feminine singular, dasjenige (neuter singular)
- Ich möchte denjenigen danken, die mich unterstützt haben (I want to thank those who have supported me)
- Wir sind in derselben Klasse (We are in the same class)
Note that in the above sentence the preposition “in” is used to tell where something is, therefore the noun following, is used in the dative case (derselben). This topic is discussed in lesson on accusative and dative prepositions.
These pronouns are declined just as the definite article in the first part of the word. For example, if the substantive to which they refer is masculine, one uses derselbe or derjenige, such as “derselbe Mann” (The same man). However, their endings follow adjective declension:
Nominative: derselbe, dieselbe, dasselbe, dieselben
Accusative: denselben, dieselbe, dasselbe, dieselben
Dative: demselben, derselben, demselben, denselben
Genitive: desselben, derselben, desselben, derselben
As the name suggests, by indefinite pronouns, those pronouns are meant which do not refer to a specific person or a thing, but which refer to an indefinite person or a thing.
There are two types of indefinite pronouns. One group is used as an independent subject or an object of the sentence.
The other group can be used with a substantive or without a substantive.
Examples of the indefinite pronouns which belong to the first group are
- Man (one), jemand (someone), niemand (no one), einander (each other), irgendwer (anyone), etwas (something), nichts (nothing)
Examples of the indefinite pronouns which belong to second group are
- jeder (each)
- alle (all)
- mancher (some)
Demonstrative and indefinite pronouns are used usually to refer to people. Learn some adjectives which are used to describe people