Indefinite 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 indefinite articles in the fourth case (accusative):

Singular Forms Indefinite Article (with Noun) Phonetic Script English Translation
masculine einen (Mann m) ['ainən] the (man)
feminine eine (Frau f) ['ainə] the (woman)
neuter ein (Kind nt) ['ain] the (child)
Plural Forms Indefinite Article (with Noun) Phonetic Script English Translation
masculine - (Männer m pl) - the (men)
feminine - (Frauen f pl) - 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 no plural form of the indefinite article.


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 sehe eine Katze f auf dem Dach. ç ˈze:ə 'ainə 'katsə auf de:m dax] I see a cat on the roof.

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 "sehen", there is written: jdn (jemanden) sehen. "jemanden" always means accusative.

German Phonetic Script English
jemanden (jdn) sehen ['je:mandən ˈze:ən] to see somebody

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

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), "Katze" 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 läuft eine schmale Straße f entlang. [zi: lɔyft 'ainə 'ʃma:lə 'ʃtra:sə ɛnt'laŋ] She is walking along a narrow street.

"Straße" is a feminine (f) noun (die Straße). Here we have to put it in the accusative case.



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
Sie gehen über eine kleine Brücke f. [zi: 'ge:ən 'y:bɐ 'ainə 'klainə 'brʏkə] They are walking across a small bridge.

Where do they go to? They walk across a small bridge (=movement from point A to point B). However, 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
Du trägst eine Tasche f auf den Boden m. [du: trɛ:kst 'ainə 'taʃə auf de:n 'bo:dən] You are carrying a bag into the attic.

"eine Tasche" is accusative object and "auf den Boden" is an adverbial phrase of place while "den Boden" 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 with a German reflexive verb:

German Phonetic Script English
Sie verliebte sich in einen Betrüger m. [zi: fɛɐ'li:ptə zɪç ɪn 'ainən bə'try:gɐ] She fell in love with a fraudster.
sich in jemanden (jdn) verlieben [zɪç ɪn 'je:mandən fɛɐ'li:bən] to fall in love with somebody

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