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German Preposition Cases, Part I

This week we're going to go through the cases used with German prepositions. If you are an advanced German speaker, this will be nothing new for you, but will hopefully be helpful for beginners as a learning tool and for intermediate German speakers as a refresher. Nouns, pronouns, and adjectives that come after prepositions take either the accusative, dative, or genitive case, but to make things slightly confusing, some prepositions require either the accusative or dative case, depending upon the context. Let's take a look in Part I today at the prepositions that require only the accusative case for the nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. 

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For a basic start, let's look at the accusative case for nouns as follows for the definite article "the," with the nominative case followed by the accusative case: 

 

der => den
die => die
das => das

 

And for the indefinite article


ein (masculine) => einen
eine => eine
ein (neuter) => ein

 

And for the personal pronouns "you," "him," "her," and "they":

 

du => dich
Sie (formal "you") 
=> Sie
er 
=> ihn
sie 
=> sie
uns => uns

 

Remember too, that if there is no definite or indefinite article, the adjective must still take the case appropriate for its gender with the preposition.

 

The common German prepositions that require the accusative case of nouns and pronouns are für, um, durch, gegen, entlang, bis, ohne, and wider. The BBC website Bitesize cleverly suggests a good way of remembering them: in that order, the first letter of each word combined makes the phrase "fudge bow." If you can remember that phrase, with very few overlaps into dative and genitive prepositions, you'll be able to know if the preposition you are about to use requires the accusative case!

 

Here are some examples from Yabla German

 

Ich wollte dir gerne ein paar Sachen für den Umzug mitbringen.

I wanted to bring you a few things for the move.

Caption 5, Nicos Weg - Freizeitstress

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Wenn es um mich geht, ist es reflexiv.

If it's about me, it is reflexive.

Caption 54, Deutschkurs in Tübingen - Akkusativ - Action

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Der schwebt also durch den Raum.

So it floats through the space.

Caption 36, Das 1. Newtonsche Gesetz - erklärt am Beispiel des Dodomobils

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Ich habe echt nichts gegen dich gesagt.

I've really said nothing against you.

Caption 7, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche

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Streute sie die Krümel von ihrem einzigen Stück Brot den Weg entlang.

She scattered the crumbs from her single piece of bread along the way.

Caption 48, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Hänsel und Gretel

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Note that the preposition entlang usually appears after the noun when used in the dative case. There is also a genitive use of entlang, but more on that in a later lesson!

 

Das war's von Rhein-Main-Szene. Bis nächste Woche. Ciao, ciao.

That's it from Rhein-Main-Szene. Till next week. Ciao, ciao [Italian: Bye, bye].

Caption 64, Frida Gold - Interview - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

Don't forget that bis ("till" or "until") is more commonly seen as a conjunction than as a preposition. 

 

Wie sollte sie es nur ohne ihn aushalten?

Just how was she supposed to make it without him?

Caption 70, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Die Weiber von Weinsberg

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Wer wider besseres Wissen vortäuscht...

Whoever pretends despite better knowledge...

Caption 41, Großstadtrevier - Schatten der Vergangenheit

 Play Caption

 

Further Learning
Go to Yabla German to look for more examples of prepositions whose nouns, pronouns, and adjectives take only the accusative case. And don't forget the key phrase "fudge bow" for remembering them, as ridiculous as it sounds! A chocolate violin, anyone? Sounds sweet...

Upper Case in German: Adjectives

Capitalizing words in German is, for the most part, easier than English. In German, all nouns are capitalized, and most pronouns (except for the formal and "royal we" cases) are written in lower case. Unlike English, most German adjectives (including nationality) are written lower case.

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Der Unterschied zwischen deutschen Texten und englischen Texten...

The difference between German lyrics and English lyrics...

Caption 34, Frida Gold - Interview - Part 2

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Nor are adjectives capitalized, unlike the English title case in headlines or names of films, songs, etc. For book and film titles, only the first word and nouns (or nominative cases) are in upper case.
 

Deswegen gucken wir jetzt einfach mal rein in „Das heimliche Geräusch“.

Therefore we'll now simply take a look at "The Secret Noise."

Caption 10, Kurzfilm-Festival - Shorts at moonlight - Part 1

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The only exceptions are if the adjective is part of a proper name, such as of a species, a legal or historical term, or a place name, or titles of books, films, etc.
 

Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg wurde Berlin in vier Sektoren unterteilt:

After the Second World War, Berlin was divided into four sectors:

Caption 1, Berlin - der alte amerikanische Sektor

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Nominalized adjectives are adjectives that are used as nouns, and in German these too are written in upper case. Generally, an adjective that has the definite article before it (derdie oder das) is a nominalized adjective: 
 

Das ist das Beste, was es gibt auf der Welt

That's the best thing that there is in the world

Caption 36, Monsters of Liedermaching - Ein Pferd

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A possibly confusing exception are superlative adjectives, usually preceded by am and written in lower case:
 

Was hat dir am besten gefallen?

What did you like best?

Caption 33, Umweltlernen - Propellerpflanzen am Kräutertag

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Sometimes too, adjectives are written apart from the noun they are modifying and may at first appear to be nominalized. As you see in the following, schönsten actually modifies the preceding noun Auswärtssiege
 

Am Samstag, da wir eh alle nach Kaiserslautern fahren und Auswärtssiege die schönsten sind, muss [sic, müssen] auf jeden Fall drei Punkte her.

On Saturday, since we are all already driving to Kaiserslautern and away wins are the most beautiful, three points are definitely a must.

Captions 54-56, Fußball - Eintracht-Fan gewinnt Wimpel

 Play Caption

 

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Further Learning
Find some nominalized adjectives from this list, then search for them on Yabla German to see them used in a real world context.

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