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Games to Help Students Learn the German Accusative Case

By Audrey Alleyne

The German accusative case is not as difficult as it seems. Make a game of it and it becomes easy to teach and learn.

Your students should first understand that the German accusative case, like the other three cases (nominative, genitive and dative) plays an important role in German grammar. They should also understand that it is used in more situations than in English, and that where English expresses itself with prepositions, German either uses case alone or prepositions and case.

The German accusative case is used when the noun is a direct object, for example:

Wir schreiben einen Brief.

We are writing a letter.

It is also always used with certain prepositions.These are very few and can be memorized easily. They are as follows:

bis - to, until, as far as ohne - without

durch - through um - around

für - for wider - against, contrary

gegen - against entlang - along

Accusative or Dative

Some prepositions take the accusative case when a change of position or motion is involved. They take the dative if there is no movement.

in - in, into

neben - next to

an - on, to at

zwischen - between

auf - on, on to

über - over, across

vor - in front of, ago

unter - under, below

hinter - behind

Look at the difference in these two sentences:

Motion: Er ging in den Garten

He went into the garden

No motion: Er stand im (in dem) Garten

He was standing in the garden.

Rhymes and Games

How do you succeed in having your students remember the accusative case? First, you can use a simple rhyme called "Der Die Das Die." Begin with the definite article followed by the indefinite article with its negative form and then incorporate the nominative and accusative forms of the possessive pronouns.This teaches them that the only change for the accusative case is in the masculine gender. Here are the words to the rhyme:

Der die das die

Den die das die

Ein eine ein keine

Einen eine ein keine

Mein meine mein meine

Meinen meine mein meine

Dein deine dein deine

Deinen deine dein deine

Sein seine sein seine

Seinen seine sein seine

Arrange the students in small groups. Have them motion to indicate objects or pictures on a table or wall using the definite article and all chant der, die, das, die in any fashion they like. Each student can take turns holding up or pointing to the object and chanting the ein part. This student can now claim the object or picture and sing the mein part of the song, followed by another student who points to him or her and sings the dein part. All the students can join in and point to the person holding the object and sing the sein part. The key point here however, is that each time they sing the masculine accusative, they place emphasis on den, einen, meinen, deinen and seinen, so that the change will stand out in their memory. This game can be quite entertaining if they try singing in the form of an opera performance.

The accusative case of the personal pronouns can also be made into a little song to whatever rhythm you choose. Let the students have fun choosing different rhythms.

mich dich ihn

sie es uns

euch Sie sie

Fun with the use of the accusative case or dative case with prepositions speaks for itself. They simply act out certain situations and take turns using the appropriate case and preposition, whether movement or non-movement is used. This game can also be played with students pointing to pictures involving motion and non-motion on a poster on the wall. For those who are artistically inclined, they can also create drawings and have their fellow students use the correct case.

Reward your students with points for their efforts. They can continue to learn the other cases in the same manner. Eventually they can compose an entire song involving the nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. Once they learn this, they will have no difficulty remembering the German cases with their many changes for these variable articles and pronouns.

Further information on the German Accusative case