Grammatiktipp: Der Nominativ und der Akkusativ

The text about the Hotel Adlon contained a number of nouns. All German nouns have grammatical gender. They are masculine, feminine or neuter.

The article for each gender is different. The German for ‘the’ can be der, die or das. And the German for ‘a/an’ can be either ein, for masculine and neuter or eine, for feminine nouns.

masculine der Konferenzraum ein Konferenzraum
feminine die Cafeteria eine Cafeteria
neuter das Fitnessstudio ein Fitnessstudio
all nouns in the plural die Büros  

The articles above are used for nouns on their own, or when they are the subject of the sentence. This is called the nominative case. If a noun is the direct object in a sentence (that is, it is on the receiving end of the action), you use the accusative case. In the accusative case the masculine article is different.

Here are some examples.

subject (nominative) verb direct object (accusative)
Das Hotel Post hat einen Swimmingpool (m.)
Ich suche den Swimmingpool
Das Hotel Post hat eine Bar (f.)
Ich suche die Bar.
Das Hotel Post hat ein Restaurant (nt.)
Ich suche das Restaurant

Here is a summary of the indefinite articles in the nominative and the accusative.

indefinite article masculine feminine neuter
nominative ein eine ein
accusative einen eine ein

Here are the definite articles.

definite article masculine feminine neuter plural
nominative der die das die
accusative den die das die

Because of these changes affected by different cases in German, it is important to learn the gender of German nouns.

You also use the accusative with the phrase Ich möchte or Ich hätte gern, for example when ordering food or drink or asking for an item in a shop. Again, it is important that you remember the gender of the noun: for example, der Kaffee, die Torte, das Stück (a piece).

A line drawing and a photo. The line drawing shows a diner saying to the waiter: "Ich möchte einen Kafee." The waiter is asking: "Möchten Sie auch ein Stück Kuchen?" The photo shows a plate with a portion of Sachertorte (chocolate cake), with whipped cream on the side. (Images: Left: © The Open University, Right: From Pixabay. Covered under Creative Commons licence CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication/)

Ja, ich hätte gern eine Sachertorte, bitte.

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

German at Work Post-Beginners 1: Deutsch am Arbeitsplatz

The Open University