- Transitive Verbs Needing Accusative
- Intransitive Verbs Needing Dative
- Verbs with Accusative and Dative
- Verbs with Double Accusative
- Verbs with More Than One Nominative
All German verbs are used with objects placed in one of the four cases, depending on the objects' roles in the sentence. However, some verbs are only used with specific cases.
Sie hilft dem alten Mann.
She helps the old man.
Transitive Verbs Needing Accusative
Rule 1: Most German verbs require an accusative object. Verbs with an accusative object are called transitive verbs.
Philip schreibt einen Brief.
Philip writes a letter.
Rule 2: They form the perfect with the auxiliary verb haben.
Philip hat einen Brief geschrieben.
Philip wrote a letter.
Rule 3: They can be used in the passive voice, where the accusative object in the passive becomes the subject.
Ein Brief wird von Philip geschrieben.
A letter is written by Philip.
Intransitive Verbs Needing Dative
Rule 4: Only a few verbs require a dative object. In that case, the dative object is the direct object.
Verbs used without an accusative object are called intransitive verbs.
Ich antworte dir später.
I'll answer you later.
Note: Intransitive verbs usually can’t be used in the passive voice.
Verbs with Accusative and Dative
Rule 5: Some verbs have a dative object and an accusative object. Mainly verbs of giving, taking and saying belong to this group. The specific thing about using these verbs is that two people and one thing occur must together in one sentence.
- The dative complement is the receiver of the action (indirect object).
- The accusative complement is the thing being acted upon (direct object).
Wir geben unserem Lehrer ein Geschenk.
We give our teacher a gift.
Verbs with Double Accusative
Rule 6: The only verbs having two accusative objects are: abfragen (to interrogate), abhören (to intercept), kosten (to cost), lehren (to teach), nennen (to name).
Es kostete sie viel Mühe.
It cost her a lot of effort.
Er nennt mich einen Idioten.
He calls me an idiot.
Note: These verbs are rare and are avoided when possible.
Verbs with More Than One Nominative
Rule 7: The verbs sein (to be), werden (to become), bleiben (to stay) and heißen (to be called) require a second nominative complement in addition to the subject.
Dieser Junge ist mein Freund.
This boy is my friend.
Note: If these verbs are followed by measurements (e.g. weight, length, time), we need to use the accusative case.
Der Tisch ist einen Meter lang.
The table is one meter long.