The Accusative Case

What is the Accusative Case?

The accusative case is used to signal the direct object (the thing that is being acted upon). We also use the accusative case after certain verbs and prepositions.

The questions for the accusative case are "Wen?" (Who?/Whom?) or "Was?" (What?)

Examples

  • „Der Mann hat ein Pferd.“

What does the man have? – ein Pferd!

The accusative case is always used after the verb "haben." That’s because haben always need a direct object.

  • „Der Junge schenkt seiner Freundin die Blumen.“

What does the boy give to his friend? – Die Blumen!

"Die Blumen" is the direct object, which is being acted upon. They are what is being given.

Articles for the Accusative Case

In the accusative case, only the articles for masculine words change! The definite and indefinite articles for feminine / neuter / plural are the same as the nominative case.

When to use the Accusative Case

As Direct Object

In sentences with only one object, the object normally takes the accusative case. There are some exceptions - when a preposition or verb requires the genitive, dativor nominative.

The direct object is acted upon or "used" by the subject:

  • „Er gibt der Frau die Blumen.“ 

(The flowers are acted upon, they don’t do anything on their own, and they don’t receive anything → direct object)

  • „Er schenkt ihr ein Auto.“

(The car is acted upon, it doesn’t do anything on its own, and it doesn’t receive anything → direct object)


As Accusative Object

In sentences that have just the subject and a single object, the object takes the accusative case - except when a preposition or verb requires another case.

  • „Ich habe ein Eis.“
  • „Er singt ein Liebeslied.“
  • „Er spielt den Ball.“

Most verbs require the accusative case.


After Specific Prepositions

The prepositions "um," "durch," "ohne," "bis," "für," and "gegen" can only be followed by nouns in the accusative case.

  • „Er fährt durch den Tunnel.
  • „Die Blumen sind für meine Freundin.“
  • „Der Mann geht um das Haus.

Prepositions don’t care if it’s a direct or indirect object, or what case the verb requires. If you have a preposition in front of a noun, the preposition determines the case. Always.

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Don't Forget!

If you have a preposition in front of a noun, none of the other rules apply anymore. It doesn’t matter if it’s a direct or indirect object, or if the verb requires a specific case! All that matters is the preposition.

The preposition determines the case, ALWAYS!

Related Topics:

All about the Nominative Case.

All about the Dative Case.

All about the Genitive Case.

Here are lists of prepositions that require specific cases: Accusative PrepositionsDative Prepositions, Two-Case Prepositions, and Genitive Prepositions.

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