Definite Articles - Accusative


The accusative is the fourth of the German cases. The accusative object of a sentence corresponds to the direct object.

Here are the definite articles in the fourth case (accusative):

Singular Forms Definite Article (with Noun) Phonetic Script English Translation
masculine den (Mann m) [de:n] the (man)
feminine die (Frau f) [di:] the (woman)
neuter das (Kind nt) [das] the (child)
Plural Forms Definite Article (with Noun) Phonetic Script English Translation
masculine   (Männer m pl)   the (men)
feminine die (Frauen f pl) [di:] the (women)
neuter   (Kinder nt pl)   the (children)

These forms are easy to remember because they almost all correspond to the nominative forms except the masculine singular form.

There is only one plural form of the definite article ("die") for every noun, no matter if it is masculine, feminine or neuter.


Accusative after certain verbs

The accusative case is used for the direct object. In German it is called accusative object.

Here is an example sentence:

German Phonetic Script English
Ich höre den Hund m bellen. ç ˈhø:rə de:n hʊnt 'bɛlən] I hear the dog barking.

While there is only one object form in English, we use either the dative or the accusative case in German. It depends on the verb which case you have to use. The explanation is that some German verbs are followed by the dative case but most of them are followed by the accusative case. Simply look it up in a dictionary if you have a certain verb and do not know the case which it is used with. You can also use an online dictionary and enter the respective verb. If you enter the verb "hören", there is written: jdn (jemanden) hören. "jemanden" always means accusative.

German Phonetic Script English
jemanden (jdn) hören ['je:mandən ˈhø:rən] to hear someone

If you ask for the accusative object (or direct object) of the example sentence, you ask: Who (do I hear)? The answer in this case would be: The dog.

While "Ich" is the subject of the sentence in the nominative case because it is the acting part of the sentence to which the predicate refers to (I am doing something), "Hund" is the noun in the accusative case and thus forms the accusative object (=direct object) together with the article.


Prepositions with accusative

After certain prepositions we must also use the accusative case: bis (until), durch (through, by, by means of), entlang (along), für (for), gegen (against), ohne (without), um (around/at). Here is one example:

German Phonetic Script English
Sie geht durch den Park m. [zi: ge:t dʊrç de:n park] She walks through the park.

"Park" is a masculine (m) noun (der Park). Here we have to put it in the accusative case.

Please take into consideration that there is a melting between certain prepositions and some of the definite articles:

Case + Definite Article Preposition Definite Article Melting
Accusative + Neuter Definite Article an + das = ans
Accusative + Neuter Definite Article in + das = ins



After the following prepositions (Wechselpräpositionen) you have to use the accusative case if you ask: Where to?: an (at/on), auf (on), hinter (behind), in (in), neben (next to), über (over, above), unter (under/below), vor (in front of), zwischen (between). Here is one example:

German Phonetic Script English
Wir fahren in die Stadt f. [vi:ə 'fa:rən ɪn di: ʃtat] We are going to town.

Where do we go to? We go to town. But be careful: If there is a verb which does not involve a movement and you would ask "Where?", then you have to use the dative case. Read more about the use of the dative if you click on the respective button above.

The following verbs which are used with these prepositions also imply a movement and are therefore followed by the accusative case: setzen, stellen, legen (to put), bringen (to bring), tragen (to carry). Here is another example sentence:

German Phonetic Script English
Ich bringe die Kiste f in den Keller m. ç 'brɪŋə die 'kɪstə ɪn de:n 'kɛlɐ] I take the box into the cellar.

"die Kiste" is accusative object and "in den Keller" is an adverbial phrase of place while "den Keller" stands in the accusative case, too. So, here again, we have a movement involved.


Verbs with prepositions

There are also verbs which are used with certain prepositions. After these verbs we must also use the accusative case. Here is one example:

German Phonetic Script English
Er lachte über das Kind nt. [e:ɐ 'laxtə 'y:bɐ das kɪnt] He laughed at the child.
über jemanden (jdn) lachen ['y:bɐ 'je:mandən 'laxən] to laugh at someone

If you are insecure about the preposition used with a verb, simply look it up in an online dictionary.