The Accusative Case in German: A Complete Guide

The accusative case in German is one of the four German cases. It is the case used for the direct object of a sentence. In this post I want to give you all my tips and tricks to master this German case as fast as possible.

What are Cases?

“Case” is just a fancy word used to talk about the roles of different nouns in a sentence. We have a subject, direct and indirect object. The accusative case is used for the direct object.

The German Accusative Case

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What is a Direct Object?

A direct object is the person or thing that is affected by what the subject does. For example:

Julia isst einen Apfel.

Julia eats an apple.

Julia is the one doing the eating so, she is the subject. The apple is the thing being eaten so, it is the direct object.

Pretty easy, right? Now, you just need to know what changes in the accusative case in German.

Changes in the Accusative Case

Now that you know when to use the accusative case in German, you should learn how to use it.

The thing that makes this case a bit easier is that only masculine nouns’ articles, pronouns and adjective endings change in the accusative. With all the other nouns everything stays exactly as they are.

I go into detail about all of these in separate posts. In here I am not going to bore you with all the details. This post is aimed at helping you understand the accusative case better. I don’t want to complicate things for you. For details on how the changes work for each of those groups of words, take a look at my posts about them.

German articles made easy
German Pronouns
German Adjective Endings

German Accusative Case Changes Made Easy

When working with the accusative case all you have to know is that only articles, pronouns and adjective endings used with masculine nouns change. If you see any other noun, nothing changes.

This means that you only have to learn the different ways that these words change when used with a masculine noun in the accusative case.

For example, with articles “ein” becomes “einen” and “der” becomes “den“. Here are some sentences in which I use these:

Der Mann liebt den Hund.

The man loves the dog.

Der König ist einen Mann.

The king is a man

Accusative Prepositions in German

In my opinion, the only thing that really complicates the accusative case in German, is that prepositions changes when you use which case.

Accusative-Only Prepositions

In German, some prepositions make that the noun following it will always be in the accusative. Here is a table with those prepositions:

bisuntil, till
durchthrough, by
entlangalong, down
gegenagainst, for
umaround, for, at

Look at this example of how a sentence with one of these prepositions looks. I will use a masculine noun as the direct object, so you can see the sentence with a changed preposition.

Wir gehen durch den Garten.

We go through the Garden.

Accusative or Dative Prepositions

Some German prepositions indicate either the dative or the accusative based on context. Here is a table with those prepositions:

anat, on, to
aufon, onto, to
hinterbehind, to the back of
inin, into
nebenbeside, next to
überabove, over
unterunder, underneath
vorin front of

If there is movement indicated by the preposition, you use the accusative case. Take a look at these examples where “in” is used first in the accusative and then in the dative.

Accusative: Das Kind geht in den Garten.

The child goes into the garden.

Dative: Die Jacke ist in dem Schrank.

The jacket is in the closet.

Conclusion: The Accusative Case in German

The accusative case shouldn’t stress you out, because there is not much that changes from the nominative case to the accusative. Just remember that everything except for words describing masculine nouns stay the same and you’ll be okay.


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The German Accusative Case

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