Verbs with Accusative Complements

On this page you'll learn everything about verbs with accusative complements. Complements are really important to help you know whether you should use the nominativeaccusativedative, or genitive case.

But first, you have to know what a complement is. If you aren't sure, take a look at this page on complements in the German language.

Accusative Complements

The majority of German verbs have an accusative complement (a.k.a. accusative object). That means when you use the verb, you have to include an accusative object or the sentence won't make sense or be grammatically correct. The accusative complement is the direct object - the person or thing being acted upon.

A few verbs even have a double accusative complement, which means you must include two accusative objects with the verb.

Examples

  • Der Mann besucht seine Eltern.“.

"Seine Eltern" is the accusative complement.

Without it, the sentence doesn‘t make sense. If you just said "Der Mann besucht," we would be asking who or what is he visiting.

Direct Object → Accusative


  • Er kennt den Mann.“

"Den Mann" is the accusative complement.

Without it, the sentence doesn‘t make sense. If you just said "Er kennt," we would be asking "Who does he know?"

Direct Object → Accusative

Word Order

Normal Sentence / Main Clause: 

Question:

Double Accusative Complements

Having double accusative complements (two accusative objects in the same sentence) is quite rare and should be avoided when possible.

There are 5 common verbs that have double accusative complements: "abfragen," "abhören," "lehren," "nennen," "kosten"

Examples:

  • Mein Vater fragt mich die Vokabeln ab.“

"Mich" and "die Vokabeln" are the 2 objects and both are in the accusative case. Grammatically you can‘t leave either one out without an open question remaining.

In informal language the part that is obvious (in this case "mich") is often left out.


  • Der Lehrer lehrt uns die deutsche Sprache.“

"Uns" and "die deutsche Sprache" are the two objects and both are in the accusative case.

In informal language the part that is obvious (in this case: "uns") is often left out.


  • Der Apfel kostet mich einen Euro.

"Mich" and "einen Euro" are 2 accusative objects.

Normally, we will leave out "mich" because it is obvious.

These verbs need a person and a thing as accusative objects. If the speaker himself is the person, we often leave out the person because it is obvious.


  • Er nennt mich einen Idiot.“

"Mich" and "einen Idioten" are 2 accusative objects.

We can‘t leave out "mich" because it isn't obvious!

In informal language, indirect speech is often used:

  • „Er sagt, dass ich ein Idiot sei.“

Related Topics:

All the info you need for the various complements in German:

If you aren't confident in using cases, look at these lessons again: NominativeAccusativeDative and Genitive.

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