The accusative case

The accusative case in German marks the direct object in a sentence. The direct object is the person or thing on the receiving end of the action:

Sie füttert das Baby.
She feeds the baby.

Helga wäscht den Wagen.
Helga washes the car.

In order to identify the direct object, you could ask the question:
→ The baby.

The accusative after most verbs

Most verbs in German are used with a direct accusative object:

kochen Jamie kocht ein Fischgericht.
schreiben Sie schreibt einen Brief.
vermissen Sie vermissen ihre alten Freunde.

These verbs are called transitive verbs. You can find out which verbs are transitive by checking in the dictionary as these verbs are indicated with the letters vt.

The accusative after prepositions

The accusative case is always used after the prepositions bis ‘until’, durch ‘through’, für ‘for’, gegen ‘against’, ohne ‘without’, um ‘round’:

Das Geschenk ist nicht für dich.
The present is not for you.

Ohne sein Handy verlässt er nie das Haus.
He never leaves the house without his mobile.

It is also used after an ‘at’, ‘on’ auf ‘on’, hinter ‘behind’, in ‘in’, ‘(in)to’, neben ‘next to’, über ‘above’, unter ‘under’, vor ‘before’/‘in front of’ and zwischen ‘between’ (all of which are called Wechselpräpositionen) when movement is implied:

Sie gehen täglich in den Park.
They go to the park every day.

Er stellt die Lampe neben das Regal.
He puts the lamp next to the shelves.

Other triggers – some expressions
The accusative forms are also used after some expressions. They include:
• es gibt ‘there is’/‘there are’: Es gibt keinen Alkohol ‘There is no alcohol’;
• greetings and wishes where ‘Wishing you a . . .’, is implied: Guten Abend! ‘Good evening!’; Herzlichen Glückwunsch! ‘Congratulations!’.

Accusative case endings

The endings of the most common determiners in the accusative are identical with those in the nominative, apart from the masculine forms, which end in -en:

 MasculineFeminineNeuterPlural
Definite articleden Mann die Tochterdas Kind die Leute
Demonstrativediesen Manndiese Tochter dieses Kinddiese Leute
Indefinite articleeinen Manneine Tochterein Kind– Leute
Possessivemeinen Mannmeine Tochtermein Kindmeine Leute

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