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The accusative is a grammatical case ( Latin case ), in traditional German grammar it is classified as the 4th case . In German, the question Who or what? Serves as a test to prove an accusative object . (Example: I give the man his hat back. → Question: Who or what do I give back to the man? → Answer: his hat). For this reason, it is also referred to as the Wen case in school grammar .

At the sentence level , the accusative is primarily used to mark a direct object ; in German it also appears in additions to prepositions and (less often) adjectives, or in adverbial definitions .

The term “accusative” is derived from the Latin casus accusativus (“case concerning the accusation”), which in turn comes from accusare , “to accuse”. It is a translation of ancient Greek αἰτιατική, aitiatikḗ , from αἰτία, aitía , "cause, reason", but also "indictment". Most scholars consider the latter translation to be incorrect. In antiquity, the translation casus causativus (“the casus of the cause”) was also known (see Priscian, Inst. V 72 pp. 185, 25); however, the origin and actual meaning of the Greek name was unclear to the ancient grammarians themselves.

Accusative in German

In German, the accusative is shown more often in the article than in the noun , and the question pronoun has its own accusative form for animate objects. Therefore, querying a part of a sentence can be used as a test for the presence of an accusative object (at least in places where an animate object would be conceivable):

  • Sentence: "One should ask Maurizio because he knows!"
Question: "Whom (or what) should you ask?" - "(Den) Maurizio."
  • Sentence: "If you don't know something, you can ask Wiktionary."
Question: "Who (or what ) can you ask if you don't know something?"
Answer: "The Wiktionary!"

Accusative forms


In definite and indefinite articles, the accusative can only be externally differentiated from the nominative in the masculine singular . Examples:

Gender / number Nominative accusative
Neuter singular " A house is a building." "He sees a house."
Feminine singular " The teacher is buying flowers." "The students greet the teacher."
Masculine plural " The apples are on the table." "He bought the apples."
Masculine singular " A truck is a vehicle." "He sees a truck."


Only some animate masculine nouns have their own form in the accusative singular:

Nominative accusative
" A raven is a bird." "He sees a raven n ."
" My friend was a prince." "Everyone liked this prince s ."

Other examples: bear, monkey

Grammatical triggers for the accusative

Regulated accusative

The accusative can be required through the rection of verbs , prepositions and adjectives .

  • Prepositions:
through: Everything that I am, I have become through myself .
for: Something from Professor Fichte and for him .
against: He ran into the tree .
without: I can't sleep without my teddy bear .
um: The path around the lake is very idyllic.

With some prepositions of the place both accusative and dative can stand. The accusative then indicates the direction towards a goal, the dative indicates an unchanged place. Example: where is he going? He goes to town (accusative). Where does he live? He lives in the city ( dative ). The prepositions, in which either the dative or the accusative can stand, are in, an, on, in front of, behind, over, under, beside, between .

  • Verbs:
see: he sees the man .
read: Susanne is reading an exciting book .
call: She calls him a fool (see also the accusative equation below).
  • Adjectives:
worth: The result is worth the effort .
used: He is used to the noise .

The accusative equation

The equation accusative (also predicative accusative) occurs only with certain verbs such as B. name, scold, baptize . It stands next to the accusative object without a preposition and relates closely to it.


He called him a fool.
Susanne called her colleague a liar.

The adverbial accusative

The adverbial accusative (also adverbial accusative) denotes a duration (examples 1 and 2) or distance (examples 3 and 4) and cannot be replaced by a pronoun. It is not required by the verb and can therefore also appear in verbs that have no addition in the accusative (2). When converting an active sentence (3) into a passive sentence (4), it is retained.


She visits him every month . (1)
She slept all day . (2)
He carried the dog all the way . (3)
The dog was carried all the way . (4)

The absolute accusative

The term absolute accusative is used to denote parts of a sentence in the accusative that are not required by the predicate (verb or adjective with sein ), such as the adverbial accusative. However, the term is often used in a restricted manner and only refers to those parts of the sentence that do not fall under the definition of the adverbial accusative and are usually interpreted as elliptical constructions.


He stood behind the door, dagger in hand , and did not move (for example instead of a non-elliptical construction like: holding the dagger in hand ).

Accusative in other languages

English and Dutch

In English and Dutch , remnants of the accusative can be found in pronouns , such as him and hem (to he and hij ) and whom (to who ). However, the terms "dative" and "accusative" are no longer suitable for these two West Germanic languages from today's point of view, since in English the forms of the accusative have completely coincided with those of the dative and in Dutch the difference between dative and accusative is only the use of “hen” or “hun” in formal style. In Old English the dative him was still distinguished from the accusative case . For modern English it is better to speak of a single, general object case, objective .


In Latin , the accusative is used in some prepositions , e.g. B. at apud , ad , contra . But it also functions as a direction case ( lative ). For example, “ Romam ire” means something like “to go to Rome”.


Polish is a West Slavic language that has no articles. The endings of the noun in the accusative and nominative always differ in the feminine singular, but in the masculine singular only with animate nouns (people or animals). In addition, the use of the accusative after certain verbs and prepositions is conditioned by the administration.


In Turkish , a distinction is made between an indefinite or a definite accusative. The indefinite accusative how the nominative no separate extension, during certain accusative after the vowel harmony a -i / -i / -u / -ü as ending ( suffix gets). After a vowel, the connecting consonant -y- is inserted before the ending .

  • Hasan bir elma yiyor. - "Hasan is eating an apple." (Indefinite)
  • Hasan Cem'i görüyor. - "Hasan sees Cem." (Determined)

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Accusative  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Anton Scherer: Handbuch der Latinischen Syntax (= Indo-European Library , Series 1: Text and Handbooks ), Winter, Heidelberg 1975, ISBN 3-533-02373-7 , p. 44.