Relative clauses: accusative

Relative clauses with relative pronouns in the accusative

You have already learned that relative clauses give more detail about a noun or pronoun in a superordinate clause, the so-called antecedent. This antecedent defines the gender and number (singular/plural) of the relative pronoun which links the relative clause to the superordinate clause. The case of the relative pronoun depends on what grammatical function the relative pronoun has in the relative clause.

In the nominative and accusative, the forms of the relative pronouns der, die and das look exactly the same as the definite articles:

Gender/Number Case  
  Nominative Accusative
Masculine der den
Feminine die die
Neuter das das
Plural die die


Ein Bäcker ist ein Mann(Nominative masculine singular)
Er (= der Mann) muss sehr früh aufstehen. (Subject: Nominative)
Ein Bäcker ist ein Mann, der sehr früh aufstehen muss.


Ein Bäcker ist ein Mann. (Nominative masculine singular)
Man sieht ihn (= den Mann) morgens in der Bäckerei. (Accusative object)
Ein Bäcker ist ein Mann, den man morgens in der Bäckerei sieht.


Grammatical terms in German:

Gender: This is the grammatical gender of a noun. The gender can be seen from the definite article of the noun.

Number: The number of a word refers to whether it is singular or plural.

Case: This is the case of a noun with its accompanying words, e.g the nominative, the accusative or the dative.