Accusative Case in German

Learn all about the accusative case in German with this free online lesson, including easy-to-follow examples. You will know from your nominative case lesson that the subject of a sentence is always in the nominative case. So, what about the second of the German grammatical cases?


Accusative Case in German

The direct object of a sentence is always in the accusative case in German and will generally receive the action of the verb.

You probably have a few questions at the moment regarding the German accusative case, such as:


1. How can I identify the direct object of a sentence?

Answer: By asking 'what' or 'whom' of the verb.


2. Why is it important to be able to identify the direct object of a sentence?

Answer: Because masculine German nouns used as direct objects make a 'declensional' change.


3. What do these 'declensional' changes look like?

Let's take a look at these changes in the German accusative case with the help of the following four tables.

I will highlight the declensional changes in blue.


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Accusative Case in German: Section 1

Definite articles 
(i.e. the various forms of 'the')

Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
den die das die


Examples:


Ich kenne den Mann (I know the man). 
'Whom' do I know? 'The man' is the direct object of the sentence as he is 'known' by the subject of the sentence,'I'. 'The' changes from 'der' to 'den' for a masculine noun in this case.


Sie kauft die Bluse (She is buying the blouse). 
'What' is she buying? 'The blouse' is the direct object of the sentence as it is 'being bought' by the subjectof the sentence, 'she'. There is NO declensional form change for a feminine noun in this case.


Wir kaufen das Haus (We are buying the house). 
'What' are we buying? 'The house' is the direct object of the sentence as it is 'being bought' by the subjectof the sentence, 'wir'. There is NO declensional form change for a neuter noun in this case.


Er isst die Weintrauben (He is eating the grapes). 
'What' is he eating? 'The grapes' are the direct objects of the sentence as they are 'being eaten' bythe subject of the sentence, 'he'. There is NO declensional form change for a plural noun in this case.


So, in a nutshell, all you need to know for the definite articles in the accusative case is that the masculine 'der' changes to 'den'. Easy, right? ;)




Accusative Case in German: Section 2

Indefinite article endings 
(i.e. the various forms of 'a' / 'an' in German)

Masculine Feminine Neuter
einen eine ein

Examples:

Ich habe einen Ball gefunden (I found a ball). 'A ball' is the direct object as it was 'found'. 'Ein' changes to 'einen' for a masculine noun.

Er kauft eine CD (He is buying a CD). 'A CD' is the direct object as it was 'bought'. There is NO declensional change for a feminine noun in this case.

Wir haben ein Auto gesehen. (We saw a car). 'A car' is the direct object as it was 'seen'. There is NO declensional change for a neuter noun in this case.


So, in a nutshell, all you need to remember for the indefinite articles in the accusative case is that 'ein' changes to 'einen' for a masculine noun. Also easy, right? ;)



Accusative Case in German: Section 3

Personal pronouns
(i.e. small words which replace nouns e.g. 'he', 'she', 'it', 'you' etc.)

Pronoun English
mich me
dich you (informal singular)
ihn him
sie her
es it
uns us
euch you (informal / plural)
Sie you (formal singular and plural)
sie them



Examples:

Liebst Du mich? (Do you love me?)

Ich liebe dich (I love you)


OK, so I grant you, there is a little more to remember here, but it's not overly complicated...I hope you agree!



Accusative Case in German: Section 4

Possessive pronoun endings
(i.e. small words which replace nouns and establish possession)


You will remember this pattern from the indefinite article table above in Section 2...yes, once again, it is exactly the same - you just need to add an 'en' to the end of all the masculine possessive pronouns. 

Masculine Feminine Neuter English translation
meinen meine mein my
deinen deine dein your (informal)
seinen seine sein his
ihren ihre ihr her
seinen seine sein its
unseren unsere unser our
euren eure euer your (informal plural)
Ihren Ihre Ihr your (formal singular and plural)
ihren ihre ihr their


Now you understand the basics of the German nominative and German accusative cases, you are ready to progress to the dative case.


Why is the German dative case important to learn?


Because all German nouns make a 'declensional' change in the dative case. (i.e. they change their form when they are the 'indirect' object.) 

Next, the Dative Case in German lesson.


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