German Nominative and Accusative cases

German Nominative and Accusative cases

In this article, we will detail as simply as possible the German nominative and accusative cases. Let’s go !

I- Nominative

The nominative case is used for nouns that are the subject of a sentence – who or what is performing the action

He expresses the function of :

• Subject :

Example: Die Katze schläft. ( The cat sleeps )

Example: Es gehen viele Leute. ( Many people leave )

In the last example, viele leute is the real subject, es the apparent subject.

Attribute subject, with the verbs sein, bleiben, werden, scheinen :

Example: Ist das die Frau ? Lea bleibt die Beste in Marketing. ( Is this the woman ? Lea stays the best in Marketing )

Salutations : Lieber Freund! ( Dear Friend ), Du armes Baby! ( Poor baby ), Liebe Freunde! ( Dear Friends )



II- Accusative

The accusative is used when the noun is the direct object in a sentence. Also to mark it by changing the article of masculine nouns and adding -n/en.

To verify that it is an accusative, we ask the question : « Wen/Was? »

A. Without prepositions

Accusative cases not preceded by a preposition expresses the function of :

Direct object : Ich hänge meinen Mantel auf. ( I hang up my coat )

Complement indicating age or measurement : Mein Neffe ist einen Monat alt. ( My nephew is one month old ) / Die Mauer ist einen Meter hoch. ( The wall is one meter high )

Adverbial phrase of time :

Duration : Mein Onkel bleibt einen Tag in Japan. ( My uncle ist staying in Japan for a month )

Date : Mittwoch, den 10. April. ( Wednesday, April 10th )

Repetition : Jeden Morgen trinke ich Kaffee. ( Every morning, I drink coffee )


B. With prepositions

We use the accusative :

• After the prepositions durch (through), für (for), gegen (against) , ohne (without), um (around)

Example¹: Die Leute joggen jeden Tag durch den Wald. ( People jog through the forest everyday )

Example²: Das Haus ist für meinen Opa. ( This house is for my grandfather )

• After the prepositions in, an, auf, über, unter, neben, zwischen, hinter, when the prepositional group indicates a direction, a movement :

Example¹: Ich fahre in die Stadt. ( I’m going to the city )

Example²: Du fliegst über das Wochenende aufs Land. ( You’re going to the country for the weekend )

• After the verbs that impose a prepositional complement 

Example¹: Wir verlassen uns auf dich. ( We’re counting on you )

Example²: Ich schreibe oft an meinen Vater. ( I often write to my father )

Declination of the definite and indefinite article

 Defined articleIndefinite article
MasculineDen MannEinen Mann
FeminineDie FrauEine Mutter
NeutralDas KindEin Auto
PluralDie ElternEltern

► The feminine, neutral and plural forms are the same as in the nominative.


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