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The accusative case is used for the direct object of the verb, for instance, the noun that has the action of the verb done to it. It is also used automatically after these prepositions:

bis until, by
durch through
für for
gegen against
ohne without
um round
entlang along ('entlang' comes after the noun)

The good thing about the accusative case is that only masculine words change their endings in the accusative.

For example:

der becomes den

ein becomes einen

Ich kaufe ein Geschenk für meinen Vater

Ich kaufe ein Geschenk für meine Mutter

Sie geht durch das Kaufhaus

Er geht die Strasse entlang (note 'entlang' after the noun!)

The dative case is used for the indirect object of a verb (the person or thing to whom you are giving something). Check out Use of Cases if you are unsure. It is also always used after these prepositions:

aus out of
bei at the house of, with
mit with
nach after
seit since
von from, by
zu to
gegenüber opposite (sometimes after the noun)

Some of these have shortened forms:

zu dem (masculine / neutral) = zum

zu der (feminine) = zur

bei dem (masculine / neutral) = beim

von dem (masculine / neutral) = vom

For example:

Nach der Mittagspause hat er Deutsch.

Ich wohne bei meiner Oma.

Peter kommt aus dem Haus.

Sie fährt direkt zur Brücke.


If you want to say how long you have been doing something, you use seit + the present tense in German. In English, you use the past tense.

For example:

I have been learning for four years = Ich lerne seit vier Jahren Deutsch

Some prepositions take the accusative or the dative case depending on what is happening in the sentence.

The preposition will take the accusative if you are talking about movement.

For example: Sie geht über die Brücke.

The preposition will take the dative if you are talking about where something or someone is.

For example: Die Brücke ist über dem Fluss.

These are the prepositions, which can take accusative or dative case:

in into, in
an to, at
auf onto, on
hinter behind
neben next to, beside
über over, above
unter under, beneath
vor in front of
zwischen between

Have a go at these sentences to see if you have understood this rule. Fill in the gaps in the following sentences by dragging 'die', 'der' or 'das' into the correct spaces. Mark your answer to see how you got on...

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The genitive case means 'of'. There are also a few prepositions that always use the genitive.

These are:

wegen because of
trotz in spite of
während during (the course of)

For example: Wegen des Wetters bleibe ich zu Hause.

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