Demonstrative pronouns

(Using German demonstrative pronouns)

What are demonstrative pronouns? How are they used?

Demonstrative pronouns (in German: Demonstrativpronomen) are a subcategory of pronouns and refer to something known in the conversation or specify something in more detail in a relative clause. This item to which the pronoun refers can, for example, appear in the preceding sentence (anaphorically) but also be abstract, that is, intangible (deictically). Demonstratives are used as pronouns or determiners, and they are inflectable, or more precisely, declinable (an exception is the pronoun ‘selbst’).

  • The most common demonstrative pronouns in the German language are:
    • der, das (this/that), die (this/that, these/those)
      • not to be confused with the definite articles
    • dieser, diese, dieses (this, these, sometimes: that, those)
    • jener, jene, jenes (roughly corresponds to ‘that/those’)
    • derjenige, diejenige, dasjenige (the/that one)
    • derselbe, dieselbe, dasselbe (the same)
    • solcher, solche, solches (such)
  • Example sentences that show their use as pronouns:
    • Die da kenne ich.“ (I know that one.)
    • „Besser ist dieses dort.“ (That one there is better.)
    • Dasselbe sagte ich ihm auch.“ (I told him the same.)
    • Derjenige, der die richtige Nummer zieht, gewinnt.“ (The one who draws the lucky number wins.)
  • Examples of using demonstratives as determiners (i.e., together with a noun) in sentences:
    • Dieser Geburtstag war mein bester.“ (This birthday has been my best.)
    • „Red doch nicht solchen Unsinn!“ (Don’t say such nonsense.)
    • „Man sagt, jenes Haus dort sei verflucht.“ (They say that house there is cursed.)
    • „In der Kantine gibt es jeden Tag dasselbe Essen.“ (They serve the same food in the canteen every day.)

How do you use the demonstrative pronoun ‘selbst/selber’?

Unlike the demonstratives above, the pronouns ‘selbst’ and ‘selbercannot be inflected or declined (so they never change their form). They do not differ in meaning, although ‘selbst’ is used in written and spoken language, whereas ‘selber’ is an almost exclusively colloquial feature.

Compare the following example sentences:

  • „Ich selbst habe es gemacht.“ (I myself did it.)
    • Such a statement with ‘selbst’ would be completely acceptable in written and spoken form.
  • „Ach, das glaubst du doch selber nicht.“ (Oh, you don’t believe that yourself.)
    • This utterance includes ‘selber’ and shows it as a typical occurrence in colloquial (spoken) language.

What are the declensional/inflectional forms of demonstratives?

Demonstrative pronouns require the following declination (inflection). Although the table uses only ‘jener’ as the example pronoun, all the other demonstratives have the same endings. The only exceptions are ‘derselbe, derjenige,’ etc., which are listed in the next paragraph.

Singular demonstratives

Grammatical case Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative jener (that) jene (that) jenes (that)
Genitive jenes jener jenes
Dative jenem jener jenem
Accusative jenen jene jenes

Plural demonstratives

Grammatical case Suffix The endings remain the same for masculine, feminine, and neuter forms:
Nominative -e jene (those)
Genitive -er jener
Dative -en jenen
Accusative -e jene

What are the forms and endings of ‘derselbe, derjenige’, etc.?

The inflected forms and declensional endings of the pronoun ‘derselbe, derjenige,’ etc. are:


Grammatical case Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative derjenige (that one) diejenige (that one) dasjenige (that one)
Genitive desjenigen derjenigen desjenigen
Dative demjenigen derjenigen demjenigen
Accusative denjenigen diejenige dasjenige


Grammatical case Prefix Demonstrative pronoun Suffix¹
Nominative die- diejenigen (those) -en
Genitive der- derjenigen -en
Dative den- denjenigen -en
Accusative die- diejenigen -en

¹ The ending ‘-en’ is the same for masculine, feminine, and neuter forms in all grammatical cases.

Further explanations related to the ‘Demonstrative pronouns’

The following explanations refer to the topic ‘Demonstrative pronouns in German grammar’ and may help you as well: