Grammar

Nominative and accusative

Summary: Nominative and accusative within a sentence

 

Nominative

The subject of a sentence is always in the nominative case.

Der Mann sucht seinen Schlüssel.

Occasionally, there is a second noun in the nominative in a sentence, for example with the verb sein:

Der Mann ist mein Freund.

 

Accusative

Many verbs need an object for the sentence to make sense. The object is usually in the accusative case.

Der Mann sucht seinen Schlüssel.
Nico öffnet die Tür.
Inge bereitet das Mittagessen vor.

You already know many verbs that take an accusative object:

haben, lernen, brauchen, anrufen, essen, trinken, nehmen, suchen, kennen, machen, lieben, hassen, besuchen, besichtigen, bestellen, bekommen, mögen, putzen, kontrollieren, vorbereiten, waschen, öffnen, schließen, reparieren  …

 

Overview: articles in the nominative and accusative

In the accusative case, only the masculine article changes. The other articles and nouns stay the same.

  Nominative Accusative
Masculine der den
  ein einen
  kein keinen
Feminine die die
  eine eine
  keine keine
Neuter das das
  ein ein
  kein kein
Plural die die
  - -
  keine keine

 

Grammatical terms in German:

das Subjekt: The subject is a person or thing that is active in the sentence or is the focus of interest; it is also called "Satzgegenstand", and is usually a noun or a pronoun.

das Objekt: The object of the sentence describes a person or thing that is the target of an action or event. It is also called "Satzergänzung", and is usually a noun or a pronoun.

A noun can have different functions within a sentence. It can, for example, be either a subject or an object. Depending on what function the noun has, its form can change. This is most noticeable by its article. In German, there are four different forms or categories (cases), called Fälle or Kasus.

Two of these cases are the nominative and the accusative.

der Nominativ: The subject is always in the nominative case. The articles take the form: der/ein, die/eine, das/ein, die/-.

der Akkusativ: Most objects are in the accusative case. The articles take the form: den/einen, die/eine, das/ein, die/-.
Grammar