3.3 Grammar

The grammar requirements for GCSE are set out in two tiers: Foundation Tier and Higher Tier.

GCSE students will be expected to have acquired knowledge and understanding of German grammar during their course. In the exam they will be required to apply their knowledge and understanding, appropriate to the relevant tier of entry, drawing from the following lists. The examples in brackets are indicative, not exclusive. For structures marked (R), only receptive knowledge is required.

Students will be expected to develop and use their knowledge and understanding of this grammar progressively throughout their course.

Foundation Tier

The case system



singular and plural forms, including genitive singular and dative plural

weak nouns: nominative and accusative singular (Herr, Junge, Mensch, Name) (R)

adjectives used as nouns (ein Deutscher)


definite and indefinite



adjectival endings: predicative and attributive usage, singular and plural, used after definite and indefinite articles, demonstrative and possessive adjectives

adjectival endings after etwas, nichts, viel, wenig, alles (R)

comparative and superlative, including common irregular forms (besser, höher, näher)

demonstrative (dieser, jeder)


interrogative (welcher)


comparative and superlative, including common irregular forms (besser, lieber, mehr)

interrogative (wann, warum, wo, wie, wie viel)

adverbs of time and place (manchmal, oft, hier, dort)

common adverbial phrases (ab und zu, dann und wann, letzte Woche, nächstes Wochenende, so bald wie möglich)


sehr, zu, viel, ganz, ziemlich, ein wenig, ein bisschen


personal, including man

reflexive: accusative

reflexive: dative (R)

relative: nominative

relative: other cases (R) and use of was (R)

indefinite: jemand, niemand

interrogative: wer, was, was für

interrogative: wen, wem (R)


regular and irregular verbs


modes of address: du, Sie

modes of address: ihr (R)

impersonal (most common only eg es gibt, es geht, es tut weh)


modal: present and imperfect tenses, imperfect subjunctive of mögen

infinitive constructions (um…zu…; verbs with zu…) (R)

negative forms

interrogative forms


  • present
  • perfect: excluding modals
  • imperfect/simple past: haben, sein and modals
  • imperfect/simple past: other common verbs (R)
  • future
  • pluperfect (R)
  • imperative forms.


fixed case and dual case with accusative and/or dative

with genitive (R)

Clause structures

main clause word order

subordinate clauses, including relative clauses


coordinating (most common eg aber, oder, und)

subordinating (most common eg als, obwohl, weil, wenn)

Number, quantity, dates and time

including use of seit with present tense

Higher Tier

Students entering for Higher Tier assessments will be required to apply all grammar and structures listed for Foundation Tier, in addition to the new grammar and structures listed for Higher Tier.


weak nouns


adjectival endings after etwas, nichts, viel, wenig, alles


reflexive: dative

relative: all cases, and use of was

interrogative: wen, wem


mode of address: ihr


infinitive constructions (ohne…zu…; um…zu…); verbs with zu… eg beginnen, hoffen, versuchen

modal: imperfect subjunctive of können, sollen


  • imperfect/simple past of common verbs
  • future
  • conditional: würde with infinitive
  • pluperfect
  • imperfect subjunctive in conditional clauses: haben and sein.


with genitive (most common eg außerhalb, statt, trotz, während, wegen)


coordinating and subordinating


use of seit with imperfect tense