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Accusative case (4. Fall) in German

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What is the accusative case in German?

The accusative case is used as the direct object in the sentence and forms the answer to the questions:

Wen oder was?who or what? 

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How to identify the accusative noun in a sentence

The accusative can be 

  • an object
  • a person
  • a pronoun

This table shows you some examples how to ask for the accusative case in German.

ExampleQuestion (Wen oder was?)Answer
Ich kaufe ein Buch. - I buy a book.Was kaufe ich? - What do I buy?ein Buch - a book
Matteo trifft seine Freundin. - Matteo meets his girlfriend.Wen trifft Matteo? - Who does Matteo meet?seine Freundin - his girlfriend
Wir sehen ihn. - We see him. Wenn sehen wir? - Who do we see? ihn - him
Das Kind trinkt einen süßen Saft. - The child drinks a sweet juice.Was trinkt das Kind? - What does the child drink? einen süßen Saft - a sweet juice

Declension of the accusative case

The nouns of the accusative case have a change in their endings compared to the nominative case. You can recognize the accusative by their articles and/or the adjectives prefixed, the gender and the number. Have also a look into the course of articles and adjectives.

Weak and mixed masculine nouns take the suffix -n /-en to the singular and plural accusative. This is also called the N-declension

The substantivized verbs (the present and past participles) and adjectives take the suffix -n /-en to the singular and plural accusative because they behave like adjectives.

Table of declension of the article and the noun in the accusative case

In this table you can find several examples for the declension of noun and their articles in the different genders. In addition, there are some examples of adjectives that accompany a noun in the accusative case.

 MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
With a definite articleden Manndie Fraudas Kinddie Leute
With an indefinite articleeinen Manneine Frauein KindLeute
With a definite article + adjectiveden guten Manndie schöne Fraudas junge Kinddie alten Leute
With an indefinite article + adjectiveeinen guten Mann eine schöne Frauein junges Kindalte Leute

Translation

  • den alten Mann - the old man
  • die schöne Frau - the beautiful woman
  • das junge Kind - the young child
  • die alten Leute - the old people

enlightenedRemember: there is no indefinite article in plural 

Table of personal pronouns in the accusative case

In the accusative case you have to decline pronouns too. They are listed in this table.

Type of personPronoun
First person singularmich - me
Second person singulardich - you
Third person singular

ihn / sie / es - him/her/it 

First person pluraluns - us
Second person pluraleuch - you
Third person pluralsie / Sie - them/you 

How do you use the accusative case in German?

The accusative case is used in several cases.

  1. As the direct Object of the verb
  2. With expressions of definite time and duration of time
  3. With prepositions
  4. With verbs of movement and contracted prepositions
  5. With sentence in passive 

 

As the direct object of the verb

All transitive verbs support the direct object and for this reason are followed by the accusative.

Examples:

  • Martin kauft den Computer. - Martin buys the computer.
  • Sie trifft ihren Onkel einmal im Monat. - She meets her uncle once a month.

  • Ich lese ein lustiges Buch. - I read a funny book.

  • Morgen rufe ich dich an. - Tomorrow, I will call you.

  • Ich brauche deine Hilfe. - I need your help. 

With expressions of definite time and duration of time  

Nominal groups that express the frequency of an activity or a time are always in the accusative case. 

Examples: 

  • Ich gehe jeden Monat ins Theater. - I go to the theater every month.
  • Fliegen wir diesen Sommer nach Polen? - Are we going to fly to Poland in the summer?
  • Die Reise hat eine Woche gedauert. - The trip lasted one week. 
  • Sophia isst jeden Tag Gemüse. - Sophia eats vegetables every day.
  • Nächstes Jahr fahre ich nach Hamburg. - Next year I will go to Hamburg.

The accusative form is also used for a date. Here the article der is transformed to den.

  • Köln, den 06.07.2018

With prepositions

There are some prepositions that always followed by the accusative case.

  • bis - until 
  • für - for
  • um - by/ for
  • gegen - against
  • durch - by/through
  • entlang - along
  • ohne - without
  • wider - contrary/against

Examples:

  • Ich kaufe Blumen für meine Oma. - I buy flowers for my grandma.
  • Ohne meinen Vater ist das Haus nicht mehr dasselbe. - Without my father, the house is no longer the same. 
  • Ich kämpfe gegen ihn. - I fight agains him. 
  • Der Zug fährt durch den Tunnel. - The train goes through the tunnel.

With verbs of movement and contracted prepositions

There are verbs that, depending on the action (whether it is static or a movement), govern the dative or the accusative case. The dative case is used when it comes to static verbs and the accusative case is used with movement.

Here is a list of verbs of movement:

  • gehen - to go
  • fahren - to drive
  • fliegen - to fly
  • sich setzen - to sit
  • (auf)stehen - to stand (up)
  • (sich) legen - to lay / to put
  • (sich) stellen - to put / to set
  • hängen - to hang
  • stecken - to stick / to put

There are contracted prepostions that are used in the accusative case and also require a verb of movement. Contracted prepositions exists, when the preposition is followed by the definite article das. Let's have a look into this table of examples.

PrepositionExample
in - to

Der Student geht in die Schule. - The student goes to school.

Ich gehe ins (in + das) Fitnessstudio. - I am going to the gym. 

an - to/at 

Wir fahren ans (an + das)  Meer dieses Wochenende. - We are going to the sea this weekend.

Wir stehen an der Bushaltestelle. - We are at the bus stop.

auf - on

Ich setze mich aufs (auf + das) Sofa. - I sit down on the sofa.

Ich lege das Buch auf den Tisch. - I put the book on the table.  

über - over

Wir fahren über die Brücke. We drive over the bridge.

Ich hänge die Lampe über den Tisch. - I hang the lamp over the table.

unter - under

Die Katze geht unter die Couch. - The cat is under the couch.

Der Löffel ist unter den Tisch gefallen. - The spoon fell under the table.

hinter - behind

Das Kind rennt hinter die Tür. - The child runs behind the door.

Ich laufe hinter den Baum. - I run behind the tree.

vor - in front of

Ich stelle den Schreibtisch vor das Fenster. - I put the des in front of the window.

Er fährt mit dem Auto vor die Kirche. - He drives with the in front of the church.

neben - next to

Setz dich neben mich. - Sit next to me.

Er stellt die Flasche neben den Teller. - He puts the bottle next to the plate.  

zwischen - between

Ich setze mich zwischen meine Mutter und meinen Bruder. - I sit down next to my mother and my brother.

Ich stelle das Regal zwischen das Fenster und das Bett - I put the shelf between the window and the bed. 

With sentences in passive

In passive phrases the object complement becomes subject and the subject becomes object complement. 

enlightenedThe accusative is used in passive forms only when it is introduced by durch

Active formPassive form
​Die Operation hat den Patienten gerettet. - The operation rescued the patient.Der Patient wurde durch die Operation gerettet. - The patient was rescued by the operation.

Das Gewitter hat die Wälder zerstört. - The thunderstorm destroyed the forests.

Die Wälder wurden durch das Gewitter zerstört. - The forests were destroyed by the thunderstorm.

Seine Schwester isst einen Apfel. - His sister eats an apple.Der Apfel wird von seiner Schwester gegessen. - The apple is eaten by his sister.

 

 

yes Now you know everything about the accusative case in German. You can practice with some exercises. Good luck!


Exercises

  1. Exercise of the German accusative
  2. Exercise: German accusative

Exercise of the German accusative


Exercise: German accusative


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