Accusative Case – Declension of Nouns in German Grammar

Introduction

The accusative case, also called the accusative object or direct object, is used for the thing or person receiving the direct action of a verb. Because word order is freer in German grammar, we use the accusative case to mark the direct object in a sentence by changing the article of masculine nouns and adding -n/-en to some nouns. The accusative case follows certain verbs and prepositions. We can use the questions wen (whom) or was (what) to find the direct object.

Learn the declension of German nouns in the accusative case online with Lingolia then practise noun declension in the exercises.

Example

Der Junge hat eine Freundin. Er spielt sehr gut Gitarre und hat ein Liebeslied für die Freundin komponiert.

Er singt der Freundin das Lied vor.

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Usage

We use nouns in the accusative case:

  • after certain verbs (accusative object), e. g. habento have, singento sing, spielento play, komponierento compose, …
    Example:
    Der Junge hat eine Freundin.The boy has a girlfriend.
    Er spielt Gitarre.He plays guitar.
    Er hat ein Liebeslied komponiert.He has composed a love song.
    Er singt das Lied.He sings the song.
  • after certain prepositions: durch, für, gegen, ohne, um
    Example:
    Er hat ein Liebeslied für die Freundin komponiert.He composed a love song for his girlfriend.
  • as the direct object in sentences with more than one object
    Example:
    Er singt der Freundin das Lied vor.He sings the song to his girlfriend.

(see also Overview of the Genitive, Dative and Accusative)

Declension of German Nouns in Accusative

The table below shows the declension of masculine, feminine, neuter and plural nouns in the accusative case.

definite articleindefinite article
masculine den Vater einen Vater
feminine die Mutter eine Mutter
neuter das Kind ein Kind
plural die Eltern Eltern

To note:

  • The feminine, neuter and plural forms are the same as in the nominative.
  • Some masculine nouns have the endings -n or -en in the accusative, dative and genitive.
    Example:
    masculine noun ending in e: der Junge – den Jungen
    masculine noun ending in ent: der Assistent – den Assistenten
    others, e. g. der Herr – den Herrn, der Mensch – den Menschen