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If one wanted to say something like

Er ist zwei Meter groß. He's two meters tall. (= 6' 6.7")

Er ist einen halben Kopf größer als ich. He's half a head taller than me.

Wouldn't the measurement be the nominative predicate of the subject or be like just using an adjective? Because you'd say

Ich bin kein Roboter


Ich bin keinen Roboter

So, why is the expression of measurement in the accusative? Danke im Voraus!!

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

The predicate is not bare sein but groß sein or, more general, adjective sein. The element that is connected by the pure copula is in fact the adjective and not the measurement.

There is no real logical reason for the measurement to be in accusative case. It could be Dative as well. But it answers the question "how?" so it must be in some case.

"[Wie] groß bist du?"

"[Zwei Meter]."

The only question Nominative answers to is "who?".

"[Wer] bist du?"


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I think I get it! Is it like how in "Ich bin ein Roboter" the robot is me and I am the Robot, but in "Ich bin zwei Meter groß" I am 2 meters, but 2 meters are not me. So since it's not reciprocal it's not the not the nominative predicate? – thekeyofgb Nov 22 '13 at 12:32
@thekeyofgb.. that is actually a great way of explaining it. Maybe you should make that an answer :)!! – Emanuel Nov 22 '13 at 12:51

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