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The Secret of the German Accusative

Listen to many example sentences much farther below!

German accusative case

The German Cases Nominative and Accusative

Please read the page from top to bottom carefully.

I’ll try to make it as easy as possible but the cases can be a little tricky. That’s why I recommend practicing a lot with my TPRS audio stories. If you do, you will develop a natural feeling for the cases and you don’t have to learn any rules by heart!

Today I would like to give you a first impression of the nominative and accusative case.

Nominative Case: 

The nominative case is usually used for a person or thing which is doing the action.

Accusative Case: 

The accusative case is usually used for a person or thing that is directly affected by the action.

Do you remember the three main articles der, die and das?

If you are not sure go back to my lesson on German Articles.

 

Here is a short repetition of the definite articles:

Der Mann liest (der = masculine)

Die Frau isst (die = feminine)

Das Mädchen* schreibt (das = neuter)

*Remember what I told you in the lesson about Indefinite Articles. The word Mädchen has the article das despite the fact that a girl is a female person.

In all three sentences above we have the nominative case because in each sentence we have a person (noun) who is doing some action (reading, eating, writing).

To make it a little more interesting let’s place two nouns in some sentences, one in the nominative and the other one in the accusative case.

Scenario 1

Let’s work our way through

Nominative / Accusative – Scenario 1

Let’s have a look at a sentence with the verb suchen (to look for, to search):

das Mädchen
das Kind

>> Das Mädchen sucht das Kind.

Did you notice that there are two nouns in the sentence?

By the way, do you know how to recognize a noun? Anything that you can put the word the or in German der, die, das in front of, is a noun (der Baum, das Wasser, die Limonade).

One of the two nouns is playing the leading part and is doing the action.

The girl (das Mädchen) is playing the leading part, because the girl is doing something. The child (das Kind) is not playing the leading part but it is directly involved.

1st noun = Mädchen (leading part) = doing the action = nominative case

2nd noun = Kind = not doing the action but directly involved = accusative case

Scenario 2

Let’s work our way through

Nominative / Accusative – Scenario 2

Now we change the sentence a little:

das Mädchen
die Frau

>> Das Mädchen sucht die Frau.

1st noun = Mädchen (leading part) = doing the action = nominative case

2nd noun = Frau = not doing the action but directly involved = accusative case

So far, so good.

 

Scenario 3

Let’s work our way through

Nominative / Accusative – Scenario 3

So far nothing has changed in the accusative case. So what’s all the fuss about? Watch closely! It might happen something unexpected.

das Mädchen
der Mann

>> Das Mädchen sucht den Mann.

Wow – what’s this? den ???
I go nuts! – Please call the doctor!

Mädchen = neuter => das
Mann = masculine => den ???
Mmmm – why not der?

Let’s see:

1st noun = Mädchen (leading part) = doing the action = nominative case

2nd noun = Mann = not doing the action but directly involved = accusative case

It is because the article der changes to den in the accusative case!

More Examples

Try to recognize the pattern

Nominative / Accusative – More Examples

For now it is enough when you notice that we use „den“ when the noun does not play the leading part and it is masculine.

In all these example sentences the first noun is in the nominative case and the second noun is in the accusative case.

Note that the articles die and das stay the same in the accusative and that the article der changes to den.

Der Mann sucht den Mann.
Der Mann sucht die Frau.
Der Mann sucht das Kind.

Die Frau sucht den Mann.
Die Frau sucht die Frau.
Die Frau sucht das Kind.

Das Kind sucht den Mann.
Das Kind sucht die Frau.
Das Kind sucht das Kind.

Plural Accusative:

Der Mann sucht die Frauen.
Die Frau sucht die Frauen.
Das Kind sucht die Frauen.
Die Frau sucht die Frauen.

Artikel-Nominativ-Akkusativ-Fall

Interrogatives (question words)

Wen? Wer?

Wen? Wer? – Identify the German Cases

If there are people involved then we need the question word: wen to identify the noun (person) that is in the accusative.

With the question word: wer we can identify the noun (person) that is in the nominative.

For example:

Die Frau sucht den Mann.

Frage: 

Wer sucht (den Mann)?

Antwort: 

die Frau
Die Frau sucht den Mann.

Frage:
Wen sucht die Frau?

Antwort: 

den Mann
Die Frau sucht den Mann.

Nominative and Accusative – Exercise A:

Read the sentences:

Martin sucht das Kind.
Martin is looking for the child.

Monika sucht die Frau.
Monika is looking for the woman.

Peter sucht den Mann.
Peter is looking for the man.

Nominative and Accusative – Exercise B:

Nominativ-Akkusativ

Part B of the exercise

Question and Answer Part:

  1. Read a few times the questions.
  2. Answer yourself (you may look at the answers).
  3. After a few times don’t look at the answers anymore.
  4. Repeat several times until you can answer easily.

 

Fragen und Antworten

1) Martin sucht das Kind.

Frage: 

Wer sucht das Kind?

Kurze Antwort: 

Martin

Lange Antwort: 

Martin sucht das Kind.

Wen sucht Martin?

das Kind
Martin sucht das Kind. 

2) Monika sucht die Frau.

Wer sucht die Frau?

Monika
Monika sucht die Frau.

Wen sucht Monika?

die Frau
Monika sucht die Frau.

3) Peter sucht den Mann.

Wer sucht den Mann?

Peter
Peter sucht den Mann.

Wen sucht Peter?

den Mann
Peter sucht den Mann.

Did you notice when we use wer? and when we use wen?

Here’s a hint: It has something to do with: Who plays the leading part?

!
Don't stop - repeat one more time!

Repeat, until you can answer the questions easily.

Almost finished

It is very important that you get familiar with the verb structure and that’s why I want to add this little bonus.

Conjugation of the verb ‘suchen’

      Playbutton

The verb ‘suchen’ = to look for, search (regular verb)

Singular:

Ich suche
Du suchst
Er sucht
Sie sucht
Es sucht

Plural:

Wir suchen
Ihr sucht
Sie suchen

      Playbutton

Never give up! 

Wenn du glaubst, dass dieses kompliziert ist, mach dir keine Sorgen! Es ist nur eine Frage des Übens. Und ich werde dieses Thema in späteren Lektionen wiederholen.

  1. Gebe (gib) niemals auf!
  2. Wiederhole diese Lektion viele Male.

If you think this is complicated, don’t worry! It’s just a matter of practice. And I will repeat this matter in further lessons.

  1. Never give up!
  2. Repeat this lesson many times!

 

s
Accusative Case „einen“

If you want to learn more about the German accusative case, I have another lesson where I dive into it again, this time using the pronoun „einen“.

Don’t be afraid: it won’t be that complicated.

I will make it very simple to follow with examples, just like this one, so don’t be afraid to go there and practice.

You can also visit my overview here and practice some basic German for beginners.

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