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DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS (Demonstrativpronomen)


With a demonstrative pronoun, the speaker or writer points at someone or something that has already been defined, or needs be revisited, as distinguished from Personalpronomen, which are not demonstrative.

Demonstrativpronomen are to either accompany a noun, or substitute for one (e.g. diese Person). As a noun substitute, the Demonstrativpronomen has similarities with the 3.Person-Personalpronomen. Example:

Similarly as the Personalpronomen es (see there, Comment 5), the neuter form of the Demonstrativpronomen may refer back to an entire sentence. Example:

There are four sets of Demonstrativpronomen, members of each set to be declined. Consequently, the German grammar can offer a wealth of options. Writers and speakers have the grammatical choice anywhere from being very specific, to less specific or even vague. It remains the translator's obligation to convey to the English reader the intentions of the original German text.

To sum this up, one has typically available a spectrum of grammatical choices that help make miscommunication in the German language fairly preventible through remarkably little effort. To be familiar with the pertinent grammatical rules is clearly worth the effort, considering the benefit, which can be greater the more erudite the communication tends to be. Demonstrativpronomen can play a significant role. Of the demonstrative pronouns, the shortest simplest choice available is generally preferred, except to avoid an ambiguity.

Die Demonstrativpronomen der, die, das
  Singular Plural
Maskulin Feminin Neutrum M, F, N
Nominativ der die das die
Akkusativ den die das die
Dativ dem der dem denen
Genitiv dessen deren dessen deren

  1. Crongruency of Demonstrivpronomen with the noun is required in Genus, Numerus and Kasus. Examples:

  2. Der, die, das identify something ahead or back, with the location being left open (i.e. "location neutral"). Examples:

  3. When referring back in the 1.Person or 2.Person, the pronoun, frequently, precedes a Genitiv or prepositional expression.


  4. With das, one can refer back to an entire sentence. Example:

  5. In an equating phrase - see "Personal Pronouns, 6." - das can refer back to the equated noun, provided it is non-neuter, or to several preceding nouns. Examples:

  6. Das can refer also to impersonal verbs. Example:

  7. After der, die, das, an identity may be strengthened by using one of the adverbs da, hier, eben. Examples:

  8. Greater specificity than with der, die, das can be obtained by coordinating through a forward reference form versus a back reference form:
      Singular Plural
    Reference Kasus M F N M, F, N
    forward Nom,Akk,Dat,Gen dessen derer dessen derer
    back Genitiv dessen deren dessen deren


Table Demonstrativpronomen dieser, diese, dieses
jener, jene, jenes
  Singular Plural
M F N M, F, N
Nominativ dieser diese dies[es] diese
Akkusativ diesen diese dies[es] diese
Dativ diesem dieser diesem diesen
Genitiv dieses dieser dieses dieser
[...] is omitted when
dies or all stand alone

  1. Dieser serves to identify a person or thing closer than jener in space or time. Also, dieser is mentioned last in a text. Examples:

    Wenn not clear, use erstere[r] versus letztere[r] (=former, latter). The [r] is required only when reference is made to a noun of male gender. Else, r to be omitted.

  2. Neuter are dies[es] and jenes. They are fixed-form pronouns used in equating phrases, similarly as es and das, and refer back to one or several neuter nouns. Examples:

    Remenber: "Er begrüßte diesen und jenen (=einige) in dem und jenem Hotel (=einigen Hotels)".

    Table Demonstrativpronomen derjenige, diejenige, dasjenige
      Singular Plural
    M F N M, F, N
    Nominativ derjenige diejenige dasjenige diejenigen
    Akkusativ denjenigen diejenige dasjenige diejenigen
    Dativ demjenigen derjenigen demjenigen diejenigen
    Genitiv desjenigen derjenigen desjenigen derjenigen

    These pronouns are to identify and select a person or thing that is to further be identified in a Relativsatz (=clause connected by a relative pronoun or relative particle) or following attribute. When no ambiguity results, these pronouns are used in their short form der, die, dem. Examples:

    Table Demonstrativpronomen derselbe, dieselbe, dasselbe
      Singular Plural
    M F N M, F, N
    Nominativ derselbe dieselbe dasselbe dieselben
    Akkusativ denselben dieselbe dasselbe dieselben
    Dativ demselben derselben demselben denselben
    Genitiv desselben derselben desselben derselben

    1. These pronouns are to indicate an identity similar as, though stronger than, der gleiche, die gleiche, das gleiche. These identities can refer only to an individual or a class of individuals.
        Er war derselbe, der die Olympiamedaille gewonnen hatte.
        Diese Meister rekrutierten sich aus
        derselben Oberschicht. (=These masters were drawn from the same upper strata of society.)
        Mutter und Tochter benutzten
        dasselbe Parfum.
        Mutter und Tochter benutzten
        das gleiche Parfum.

      In the last two examples, dasselbe indicates an one-to-one identity, and das gleiche indicates a class identity. The latter would mean the same brand of parfum.

    2. Further clarification can be obtained from ein und derselbe. Example:
        Michael und Karen wohnen in ein und demselben Haus. This means
        Michael wohnt im gleichen Haus wie Karen.
        Das höchste Bauwerk in Paris ist der Eiffelturm.
        Seine Höhe beträgt 321 m (=die Höhe des höchsten Bauwerks).
        Die Höhe
        desselben beträgt 321 m. (=die Höhe des Eiffelturms)

      Though in these two examples different reference nouns are used, the highest stucture versus the Eiffel tower, both happen to have the height of 321 m.

    3. In general, one likes to avoid the forms derselbe, dieselbe, etc, which can seem somewhat ordinary. Sometimes they are unavoidable, though, even when identification is not the issue. This is so with a Genitive object. Example of Genitivus obiectivus:
        Gute Qualität des Stoffes wird verlangt und sollte beim Einkauf dessselben garantiert werden müssen.

    4. Selbst and selber are interchangeable pronouns that do not get declined and are used similar as in an apposition. Examples:
        Fritz selbst hat es gesagt.
        Fritz hat es
        selbst gesagt.
        Hilf dir
        selbst, dann hilft dir Gott. (Proverb)

      Go on to the next page (Relative and Interrogative Pronouns)
      Return to Page 1, Pronouns' main page: Personal Pronoun
      Return to the IHGG Home Page

      Created: 13.04.98
      Last modified: 13.04.98
      Author: H.Vogel email: hvogel@travlang.com
      Site maintained by: H.Vogel

      Copyright (c)H.Vogel at The Travlang Company, 1998.

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