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I need to know why do we say "schwarzen Kaffee, bitte" and not "schwarzer Kaffee, bitte". To me, it should be "schwarzer Kaffee", however, I am being told it is the other way around.

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You're basically saying that it's because "schwarzen" is an accusative here, that is, the object of the sentence (the one that receives the action of the verb). @Em1 the nominative case is the case of the subject (called like this in the English language). The distinction between direct and indirect object corresponds to the presence of a preposition instead en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Object_%28grammar%29#Types_of_objects –  martina Jul 18 '13 at 10:27
    
@martina I know this. I just left a brief comment, didn't take the time to make this clear. All what I'm saying that the English terms are very close to the German ones. And that there's no need to care about how it is 'handled' in the English grammar. –  Em1 Jul 18 '13 at 12:04

2 Answers 2

I assume you are using these phrases in the context of placing an order.

Schwarzen Kaffee, bitte!

is a short form of

Ich hätte gerne (einen) schwarzen Kaffee, bitte.
Ich möchte (einen) schwarzen Kaffee, bitte.


“Schwarzer kaffee, bitte!” could be used to tell the black coffee to behave. ;)

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4  
+1 für den Witz –  c.p. Jul 18 '13 at 9:07
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Die zweite Variante kann aber auch als Antwort auf die Frage: "Was möchtest du trinken?" verstanden werden und dann ist "bitte" reine Höflichkeit. –  Vogel612 Jul 18 '13 at 11:30
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@Vogel612 Wenn Du mit der "zweiten Variante" schwarzer Kaffee meinst, dann, nein. Das ist keine korrekte Antwort auf die Frage "Was möchtest du trinken?". Korrekt is auch hier Schwarzen Kaffee, da es lediglich eine Kurzform von Ich möchte schwarzen Kaffee. ist. –  teylyn Jul 23 '13 at 1:17
    
@teylyn ich "bestelle" bei mir in Süddeutschland generell so. wobei ohne vorherige Frage der Akkusativ nicht notwendig ist und dann der Nominativ besser ist ;) –  Vogel612 Jul 23 '13 at 10:28

Trying to emphasize the grammar background, I offer this answer:

It is because the line is an answer to the question "What may I serve to you?" or "What do you want?".

The reply is in the case accusative, answering "whom or what?", to which you reply "schwarzen Kaffee", while "schwarzer Kaffee" would be nominative, answering to "Who or what?".

In English, the adjective "schwarz"/"black" is the same in both cases, but in German, it isn't.

In contrast, if you are asked "What is your favourite drink"/"Was ist ihr Lieblingsgetränk?", you'd answer with a nominative, like "Schwarzer Kaffee".

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