Declension (Overview)
Nominative
Genitive
Dative
Accusative


Interested in the Accusative?

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What is Accusative?

The accusative is the last of the four German cases.

A "case" is the function a noun has within a sentence. If words were actors, we could say the "case" is the role each word plays. The accusative shows whom you love, where you're going, or who you listen to.






The accusative question is: "Wen?" or "Was?" ("Whom?" or "What?")


Example:

Brad Pitt spielt den Helden. - Brad Pitt plays the hero.

Question: WEN spielt Brad Pitt? - Who does Brad Pitt play?

Answer: DEN HELDEN - THE HERO

DEN HELDEN is accusative.

Accusative - Overview

In the following table you can see what different words look like in the accusative case. After that, there will be a more thorough explanation of how the accusative is formed.

 definite articleindefinite article
masculine   den freundlichen Bademeistereinen freundlichen Bademeister
feminine   die lustige Schülerineine lustige Schülerin
neutral   das kluge Tierein kluges Tier
plural   die freundlichen Herrenfreundliche Herren


How to Form the Accusative

To know what form a noun takes in the accusative, we need to know whether it is masculine, feminine, or neutral, plural, or singular. These are the criteria according to which the ending of the noun, as well as articles and adjectives that belong to this noun, change. (see next paragraph)


Example 1:

Wrong Sentence:

Brad Pitt spielt in diesem Film ein Held.
Brad Pitt plays a hero in this movie.


WEN spielt Brad Pitt in diesem Film? Who does Brad Pitt play in this movie? This is an accusative question. "Normally" we say "ein Held" (nominative, masculine, singular). In the accusative, we have to say: einen Helden




Right Sentence:

Brad Pitt spielt in diesem Film einen Helden


Example 2: John heiratete die Kellnerin.


WEN heiratete John? Whom did John marry? This is the accusative question, and "Kellnerin" is feminine and singular. In the accusative, singular, feminine, neither the noun nor the article change. Therefore, the above sentence is right. It looks the same as in the nominative.






Other Words that Change: Articles, Adjectives, Pronouns

As you saw in the previous paragraph, all words that belong to the noun also need to change according to the case it stands in.


Example:

Ich fand eine schöne Muschel.
I found a beautiful shell.

WEN oder WAS fand ich? - WHOM or WHAT did I find?

EINE SCHÖNE MUSCHEL - A BEAUTIFUL SHELL

EINE SCHÖNE MUSCHEL: accusative, feminine, singular


The words "EINE" and "SCHÖNE" have to adjust to "MUSCHEL" and also be accusative, feminine, and singular.


Ich legte meine schönen Muscheln in eine Schachtel.
I put my beautiful shells in a box.

WEN oder WAS legte ich in eine Schachtel? - WHOM or WHAT did I put in a box?

MEINE SCHÖNEN MUSCHELN - MY BEAUTIFUL SHELLS

MEINE SCHÖNEN MUSCHELN: accusative, feminine, plural


You can see in this sentence that in the plural form, something has changed. Instead of "schöne" it now says "schönen", and instead of "Muschel" it now says "Muscheln".

All words are accusative, feminine, and plural, and go together. "Meine" is a pronoun, "schönen" is an adjective, and "Muscheln" is the noun.


Ich legte einen glitzernden Stein dazu.
I added a shiny stone.

WEN oder WAS legte ich dazu? - WHOM or WHAT did I add?

EINEN GLITZERNDEN STEIN - A SHINY STONE

EINEN GLITZERNDEN STEIN is accusative, masculine, and singular.


Once again, all three words go together. All of them are accusative, masculine, and singular. "Einen" is an infefinite article, "glitzernden" is an adjective, and "Stein" is the noun.

Inseparable Friends

Some words love the accusative and are always by its side. If you want to understand the accusative, you should get to know them.

Some of the Accusative's Best Friends:

in (die Stadt gehen) - (to go) into (town)
auf (die Bühne gehen) - (to get) on (stage)
hinter (den Baum rennen) - (to run) behind (the tree)
unter (das Bett kriechen) - (to crawl) under (the bed)
vor (die Hunde gehen) - (to get) in front of (the dogs)*
zwischen (die Kissen springen) - (to jump) between (the pillows)
gegen (den Strom) - against (the stream)
für (den ersten FC Köln) - for (the 1st Football Club Cologne)
durch (die Stadt) - through (the city)
(einen Hund) haben - to have (a dog)
(ein Buch) lesen - to read (a book)
(meine Tante Ella) besuchen - to visit (my aunt Ella)
(ein altes Matrosenlied) singen - to sing (an old sailor song)
(ein neues Kleid) kaufen - to buy (a new dress)
(eine CD) hören - to listen to (a CD)
(einen Krapfen) essen - to eat (a donut)
(einen Krampf) haben - to have (a cramp)
(in eine Schachtel) legen - to put (in a box)
(auf den Stuhl) setzen - to sit down (on a chair)
(ins Netz) stellen - to post (online)
(ein Model) fotografieren - to photograph (a model)

*vor die Hunde gehen - a German idiom that means: to go down the chute

Example Sentences:

Ich lief hinters Haus.
I ran behind the house.

Meine Tante las eine Wohnzeitschrift.
My aunt was reading an interior magazine.

Mein Vater brachte extra für mich ein Rosinenbrötchen mit.
My father brought a raisin roll just for me.

Wir aßen Hörnchen und Rosinenbrötchen.
We ate croissants and raisin rolls.

Er hatte einen Rottweiler, ich eine Siamkatze.
He had a Rottweiler, I had a Siamese cat.

Wir fotografierten den Schreibtischstuhl und stellten ihn ins Netz.
We photographed the desk chair and posted it on the net.

Sie schüttete den Tee auf die Blumen und wusch die Kanne ab.
She poured the tea onto the flowers and cleaned the teapot.

Wir besuchten meinen Bruder jeden Sommer.
We visited my brother every summer.

Declension (Overview)
Nominative
Genitive
Dative
Accusative