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Nouns - Declension: Accusative
The accusative is the fourth of the German cases. The accusative object of a sentence corresponds to the direct object. Here are the accusative forms of the example nouns in the singular (sg) and plural (pl):
|Singular Forms||Noun with Definite Article||Phonetic Script||English Translation|
|masculine||den Mann m||[de:n man]||the man|
|feminine||die Frau f||[di: frau]||the woman|
|neuter||das Kind nt||[das kɪnt]||the child|
|Plural Forms||Noun with Definite Article||Phonetic Script||English Translation|
|masculine||Männer m pl||[di: 'mɛnɐ]||the men|
|feminine||die||Frauen f pl||[di: 'frauən]||the women|
|neuter||Kinder nt pl||[di: 'kɪndɐ]||the children|
|Singular Forms||Noun with Indefinite Article||Phonetic Script||English Translation|
|masculine||einen Mann m||['ainən man]||a man|
|feminine||eine Frau f||['ainə frau]||a woman|
|neuter||ein Kind nt||[ain kɪnt]||a child|
|Plural Forms||Noun with Indefinite Article||Phonetic Script||English Translation|
|masculine||Männer m pl||['mɛnɐ]||men|
|feminine||Frauen f pl||['frauən]||women|
|neuter||Kinder nt pl||['kɪndɐ]||children|
All forms correspond to the nominative forms except the masculine singular forms.
There is only one plural form of the definite article ("die") for every noun, no matter if it is masculine, feminine or neuter.
Some masculine nouns which end in -e and some others have the ending -n or -en in the genitive, dative and accusative forms. You can read more about the n-declension if you click on the respective button above.
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:
|Ich besuche die Frau f.||[ɪç bə'zu:xə di: frau]||I visit the woman.|
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 "besuchen", there is written: jdn (jemanden) besuchen. "jemanden" always means accusative.
|jemanden (jdn) besuchen||['je:mandən bə'zu:xən]||to visit someone|
If you ask for the accusative object (or direct object) of the example sentence, you ask: Who (do I visit)? The answer in this case would be: The woman.
While "Ich" is the subject of the sentence in the nominative case because it is is the acting part of the sentence to which the predicate refers to (I am doing something), "die Frau" is the noun in the accusative case and so the accusative object (=direct object).
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:
|Ich bin gegen den Vorschlag m.||[ɪç bɪn ge:gən de:n 'fɔɐʃla:k]||I am against the suggestion.|
"Vorschlag" is a masculine (m) noun (der Vorschlag). Here we have 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:
|Ich gehe in den Garten m.||[ɪç 'ge:ə ɪn de:n 'gartən]||I go into the garden.|
Where do I go to? I go into the garden. 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. One example:
|Ich stelle das Buch nt ins (=in das) Regal nt.||[ɪç 'ʃtɛlə das bu:x ɪns re'ga:l]||I put the book into the shelf.|
"das Buch" is accusative object and "in das Regal" is an adverbial phrase of place while "das Regal" stands in the accusative case, too. So, here again, we have a movement involved. There are also other verbs like bringen (to bring) or tragen (to carry).
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:
|Er wartet auf seine Frau f.||[e:ɐ 'vartət auf 'zainə frau]||He is waiting for his wife.|
|auf jemanden (jdn) warten||[auf 'je:mandən 'vartən]||to wait for someone|
If you are insecure about the preposition used with a verb, simply look it up in an online dictionary.
The accusative is also used with certain set expressions. Here is one example:
|Guten Morgen m!||['gu:tən 'mɔrgən]||Good morning!|
This greeting is a short form for:
|Ich wünsche Ihnen einen guten Morgen m!||[ɪç 'vʏnʃə 'i:nən 'ainən 'gu:tən 'mɔrgən]||I wish you a good morning!|
Here, "Ich" is the subject of the sentence and "einen guten Morgen" is the accusative object. That is why we Germans say "Guten Morgen" and not "Guter Morgen" in the nominative form.
We also have reflexive verbs of which the reflexive pronoun "sich" stands in the accusative when there is no other accusative object in the sentence.
|sich waschen||[zɪç 'vaʃən]||to wash oneself|
Now let us form a complete sentence:
|Ich wasche mich.||[ɪç 'vaʃə mɪç]||I wash myself.|
The reflexive pronoun "mich" stands in the accusative case.
However, if we have an accusative object like in the following example, then the reflexive pronoun stands in the dative case:
|Ich wasche mir die Haare nt pl.||[ɪç 'vaʃə mi:ə di: 'ha:rə]||I wash my hair.|
Now the reflexive pronoun "mir" stands in the dative case because we have the accusative object "die Haare" (=direct object). As we already have one accusative object in the sentence, the reflexive pronoun cannot stand in the accusative as well.