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"Dieses Jahr", "diese Woche", "diesen Sommer" are all answers to the question "When?".

According to the rules one should use dative to answer (for example "diesER Woche"), however accusative is used. Why?

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

Akkusativ is used, because there is no preposition.

Wann bist Du mit dem Buch fertig?
Ich schreibe es diese Woche fertig. (Akkusativ without preposition)
Ich schreibe es in dieser Woche fertig. (Dativ with preposition)

Using a preposition or not, defines if Akkusativ or Dativ is correct.

Be aware that also Genitiv can be used in some cases.

Wann zahlst Du die Rechnung?
Ich zahle innerhalb dieses Monats.

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+1; meine Faulheit muss bestraft werden, für eigene Beispiele war ich nicht in der Lage :D ... aber Akkusativ mit i – Em1 Jul 13 '12 at 11:33
@Em1, dafür warst Du schneller :) – John Smithers Jul 14 '12 at 20:44

Angaben eines Zeitpunkts mit dies- und nächst- ohne Präposition stehen im Akkusativ, mit Präposition im Dativ.

Beispiele: Wann beginnt das Studium?

ohne Präposition: diese Woche (=Akkusativ)

mit Präposition: in dieser Woche (=in+Dativ)

More examples and more informations, follow that link

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Accusative refers to (time) location or "point in time." Diesen Sommer (this summer).

Dative refers to (time) DIRECTION. Im Sommer (in the summer).

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Im Sommer is a bad example because it uses a preposition. Also, "direction" is very questionable here. – chirlu Sep 8 '15 at 8:38

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