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Struggling with the Accusative and Dative Case in German?

Updated: Mar 27

Many students at A2 level are struggling with the accusative and dative case in German. However, the logic behind the two the cases is not too difficult to understand. In this post, I explain the logic in a straightforward manner.


A simple explanation of the accusative and dative case in German
A simple explanation of the accusative and dative case in German



In separate blog posts, I provide a detailed explanation the four cases in German and verbs that go with the accusative and dative case in German. My more succinct explanation below is derived from my answer to a question posted on Quora, which I have revised.


Put briefly, the accusative case is the direct object of a sentence, which means that it has the action of the verb done to it. Let’s look at an example.


NOMINATIVE ACCUSATIVE

Ich erkläre den Akkusativ (I explain the accusative).


“Ich” is the nominative case or subject of the sentence as I’m performing the action. “Den Akkusativ” is, of course, the direct object or accusative case because I’m doing the action of explaining to it.


The dative case is the indirect object. It is normally triggered by verbs that can be done to or for someone and- in the absence of prepositions in German- usually represents a person or pet to or for whom the action of the verb is being done. Sounds complicated? Let me give you another example, rephrasing the previous one.


NOMINATIVE DATIVE ACCUSATIVE

Ich erkläre dir den Akkusativ (I explain the accusative to you)


Here, nominative and accusative remain the same as in the sentence above, but “erklären” as a verb represents an action that can be done to for someone, which means that it lends itself to the dative case. And the said dative case is “dir” because the explanation is done to/for you.


For a more detailed explanation, you might want to read through my blog post on the four cases and my list of common verbs that trigger either only the accusative, verbs that only go with the dative case in German or- as in my explanation above- both cases.


I hope this helps!

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