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Lesson 4: The family and around the house

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Accusative / doing things in and around the house

As mentioned earlier, we will now introduce a second case, the accusative. We will also explain to a certain extend the German case system.

The following pictures show common activities in and around the house. Study them for a while before you continue with reading. Note that all the verbs in these activities are regular verbs and end in '-en'. That means that you can conjugate them exactly as the regular verbs from the last lesson (e.g. machen, gehen, etc...).

Click on the blue arrows to hear the words in German.

das Geschirr spülen
(to do the dishes)

das Fahrrad reparieren
(to repair the bike)

die Wohnung putzen
(to clean the apartment)

den Tisch decken
(to set the table)

den Rasen mähen
(to mow the lawn)

das Essen kochen
(to prepare the food)

die Wäsche machen
(to do the laundry)

das Bett machen
(to do the bed)

die Decke streichen
(to paint the ceiling)

den Garten pflegen
(to take care of the garden)

You might have noticed something important here. You never see the definite article 'der' in the vocabularies above but you see the article 'den' sometimes. You learned from the previous lesson that the direct article for masculine nouns, 'der', changes to 'den', whenever we are talking about directions and we are using the preposition 'in' (e.g. 'Ich gehe in den Park').

We will now explain to you, why sometimes 'der' changes to 'den' and we will list exact rules to help you figure out, in which situations you will have to do so.

In German, all nouns practically have four different modes, in which they can show up in a sentence. These four modes are called 'cases'. The cases in German are:

1) nominative (for subjects in a sentence; standard case)
2) genitive (indicates possession)
3) dative (for indirect objects in a sentence)
4) accusative (for direct objects in a sentence; this is the case that you will learn about now)

- You already know the nominative, which is the standard form of all nouns and is used for the subjects of a sentence. Also, the nominative is the form of a noun that you learn, when you study the vocabularies in our vocabulary-section.

- You also heard today about the genitive, but ONLY in connection with names (add 's' to name).

- Now we will have a closer look at the accusative and when and how it is used:

All direct objects in a sentence have to be in the accusative case. Direct objects are defined as those nouns or names that are directly affected by the action described by a sentence's verbs.
The accusative is only visible on masculine nouns. The definite article 'der' changes to 'den'. Thus, for feminine and neuter nouns, the accusative and nominative forms are identical.
In the following sentences, the subjects are highlighted in green (nominative), the direct objects are highlighted in red (accusative).
Der Vater deckt den Tisch.accusative visible through 'den', because 'der Tisch' = masculine)
Helgas Schwester putzt die Wohnung.accusative not visible, because 'die Wohnung' = feminine
Markus repariert das Fahrrad.accusative not visible, because 'das Fahrrad' = neuter
Der Fernseher ist neu.no direct object here => no accusative

The accusative is also used, when using the preposition 'in' in connection with a noun describing a direction.
Wir gehen in den Garten.accusative visible through 'den', because 'in' plus direction is used; no direct object here though

Complicated? Don't worry, we will now exercise a little bit until you will fully automate the use of the accusative without even thinking about it.

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pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12        vocabularies       Exercises [A] [B] [C] [D] [E]

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