German Adjectives in the Accusative Case
In this episode of 3 Minuten Deutsch I explained how to use the accusative case adjective endings. This includes adjectives after definite articles (der-words), indefinite articles (ein-words), and adjectives not preceded by an article. If you want a worksheet to go with this topic, you can find that on my Patreon page. If you want more information about this topic, you can find that after the video in this blog post.
The first thing that a lot of people learn about the adjectives is a chart that looks similar to this one.
This chart looks a bit overwhelming at first, but if you break it apart, it isn’t that bad. In the nominative case, any singular noun that is preceded by a definite article has an -e at the end of the adjective. In the accusative case, this is mostly true, but the masculine nouns require -en on the adjective. It is similar with the indefinite articles. If there is an indefinite article in the nominative case, the adjective takes the ending that would be on a definite article with the same gender (i.e. masculine = er, feminine = -e, neuter = -es). In the accusative case, the same is true, but the masculine nouns require -en at the end of their adjectives. If there isn’t an article, the singular forms take the same endings as they did when there was an indefinite article. In the plural, if there is an article, the ending is -en. If there is no article, the endings is -e. This is true in both the nominative and accusative cases.
I like to do examples differently in the video and on the blog. In the video I showed each gender of nouns with 3 examples of each. Each example group had one sentence with a definite article, one with an indefinite article, and one without an article. In this blog, I would like to show the difference between the nominative and accusative cases, by showing each example side-by-side with an example in another case.
Der große Mann kauft den kleinen Hund. – The tall man is buying the small dog.
Here you can clearly see that both nouns are masculine and are preceded by a definite article. The man is the one doing the action of the sentence, which makes him the subject and also the nominative case. The definite article is “der” and the adjective endings is -e. In the accusative case, we see the dog is the thing being purchased, which puts it in the accusative case. This changes the definite article from “der” to “den”. It also changes the adjective ending from -e to -en.
Die schöne Frau trägt die goldene Halskette. – The beautiful woman is wearing the golden necklace.
Here we see that it doesn’t matter whether the noun is in the nominative case or in the accusative case. The adjective and definite article are the same (die + -e). The same is true of the following example with the neuter nouns and the plural nouns. They are das + -e and die + -en respectively.
Das junge Mädchen umarmt das braune Pferd. – The young girl is hugging the brown horse.
Die aufgeregten Kinder essen die süßen Bonbons. – The excited children are eating the sweet candies.
When there is an indefinite article, the examples are similar. The only one that shows a change between the nominative and accusative cases is the masculine forms.
Ein großer Mann kauft einen kleinen Hund. – A tall man is buying a small dog.
Eine schöne Frau trägt eine goldene Halskette. A beautiful woman is wearing a golden necklace.
Ein junges Mädchen umarmt ein braunes Pferd. – A young girl is hugging a brown horse.
Meine aufgeregten Kinder essen ihre süßen Bonbons. – My excited children are eating their sweet candies.
The adjectives that are not preceded by an article are a bit complicated to use, as there aren’t very many nouns that can be used in their singular form without an article of some kind. For that reason, I wrote two sentences for each to show the difference between the cases, as the sentences would be a bit difficult if I were to write them with both cases in the sentence.
Trockener Klebstoff ist hart. – Dry glue is hard.
Ich habe trockenen Klebstoff auf meinem T-Shirt. – I have dried glue on my shirt.
Weiße Baumwolle ist schön. – White cotton is beautiful.
Ich finde weiße Baumwolle schön. – I find white cotton beautiful.
Frisches Gemüse schmeckt gut. – Fresh vegetables taste good.
Ich mag frisches Gemüse. – I like fresh vegetables.
Kleine Kinder sind süß. – Small children are cute.
Ich mag kleine Kinder. – I like small children.
Again, the only difference that you can see here is in the accusative masculine. All of the other adjective endings are the same in the nominative and accusative cases.