The accusative case
The accusative case
has four functions.
1) Direct object
The direct object
of a sentence is the person, thing, entity, or idea that is acted upon by the subject. It answers the question: What
does the subject <insert meaning of verb here
|Wir sehen einen Film.
We’re watching a film.
||“A film” is the direct object. It is what the subject “we” is watching.
|Martha trinkt viel Kaffee.
Martha drinks a lot of coffee.
||“Coffee” is the direct object. It is what the subject “Martha” drinks.
|Mein Chef hat eine Schwester.
My boss has a sister.
||A sister” is the direct object. It is what the subject “my boss” has.
2) Object of an accusative preposition
The object of an accusative preposition must be in the accusative case. These are the prepositions in German whose noun objects are always in the accusative case:
||around; at (with time)
|Er fuhr gegen einen Baum.
He drove into a tree.
||“A tree” is the object of the accusative preposition gegen.
|Ohne dich kann ich nicht leben.
I can’t live without you.
||“You” is the object of the accusative preposition ohne.
|Sie arbeitet schwer für das Geld.
She works hard for the money.
||“The money” is the object of the accusative preposition für.
3) Object of a two-way preposition
Two-way prepositions are named as such because their objects are sometimes in the dative case and sometimes in the accusative case. Here are the two-way prepositions:
||to, toward, onto (a vertical surface)
||to, toward, onto (a horizontal surface)
||(to a place) under
||(to a place) behind
||(to a place) in front of
||(to a place) between
||(to a place) beside
When two-way prepositions are used with the accusative case, they (1) designate a change of location or destination of movement, or (2) are in idiomatic expressions requiring the use of the accusative.
EXAMPLES of 2-WAY PREPOSITIONS + ACCUSATIVE to indicate DESTINATIONS:
|Sie geht gerade in die Bank.
She is going into the bank.
||“Into the bank” is a destination of movement, hence in takes the acc.
|Ich setzte mich neben ihn.
I sat down next to him.
||“Next to him” is a destination of movement, hence neben uses acc.
|Grete wartet auf ihren Vater.
Grete is waiting for her father.
||“Her father” is the acc.object of auf because the idiom warten auf requires the use of the acc.case.
In addition to the meanings listed , the two-way prepositions + accusative have a wide range of idiomatic meanings, as the last example above shows: warten auf
(+ acc.) = to wait for
Nouns and pronouns in the ACCUSATIVE CASE
Finally, here are some examples of nouns and pronouns in the accusative case. Words and endings in red
indicate a form that differs from the corresponding nominative case form.
ihn, sie, es