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Using Prepositions in German: The Accusative Case

By Gillian Hendrie

German prepositions that require the use of the accusative case describe where something is or where it's going. In this article, you can learn the commonly used German prepositions which take the accusative case and how to use them correctly around town.

German Prepositions

A previous article, Die Stadt: German Vocabulary for Getting Around Town, introduced vocabulary for places of interest and some basic directions for getting around town. Now learn how to describe in more detail where places are and how to get there using der Akkusativ (the accusative).

Accusative Prepositions

A full alphabetical list of prepositions is available as a download. The following are those which ALWAYS take the accusative case:

  • bis [biss] = until, up to
  • durch [doorX]= through
  • entlang [ent-lang] = along
  • für [foor] = for
  • gegen [gay-gin] = against
  • ohne [oa-nu] = without
  • um .... herum [oom ... hi-room] = around
  • wider = [vidder] = against

An easy way to remember the list is by using the mnemonic FUDGEBOW—the letters make up the initial letters of the prepositions.

How to Form the Accusative Case

What forming the accusative case means in practice is that any masculine nouns change der to den. Feminine and neuter nouns stay the same.

Examples:

  • der Bahnhof: through the railway station = durch den Bahnhof
  • der Kirche: up to the church = bis zu der Kirche
  • das Stadtzentrum: around the town centre = um das Stadtzentrum herum

 

 

 

Accusative for Movement

Some prepositions take either the accusative or the dative case depending on whether there is movement involved (accusative) or not (dative). These include:

  • hinter [hin-tir] = behind
  • in [in]= in, inside
  • neben [nay-bin] = near, next to, beside
  • über [oo-bir] = over, above
  • unter [oon-tir] = among, under, below
  • vor [foar] = ahead of, in front of
  • zwischen A und B [tsvi-shin A oont B]= between A and B

Examples:

  • he lives in the town. = er wohnt in der Stadt (dative for position) [See next article on the dative case for further details.]
  • he's going (i.e. walking) to town. = er geht in die Stadt (accusative for movement)

Practice with Places of Interest

Using the vocabulary list of buildings and other town features, translate the following commands into German:

  1. Go through the park.
  2. Walk behind the cinema.
  3. Go as far as the museum.
  4. Drive along this street.
  5. Walk between the railway station and the theatre.

Answers

  1. Gehen Sie durch den Park.
  2. Gehen Sie hinter das Kino.
  3. Gehen Sie bis zu dem Museum.
  4. Fahren Sie diese Straβe entlang.
  5. Gehen Sie zwischen den Bahnhof und das Theater.
bis zu dem Museum