I am learning German, perhaps I am A1 level but I really wish to raise my level to B1 and as far as my experience goes, the verbs are quite important to know and for not only verb but for grammatical accuracy I want to know which verb can be labelled as per the grammatical case in German as below:

  • Nominativ
  • Akkusativ
  • Dativ
  • Genitiv

Is there a way or technique – don’t expect it to be accurate always – to know if a verb is of any of the types above or maybe it even belongs to more than 2 types? Any source on the internet or even a book recommendation would be helpful.

  • 6
    Nominative- and genitive-verbs are few (Nom: sein, heißen, .../ Gen: bedürfen...). The real work is to learn acc. versus dat. That's, I guess then the technique: memorize.
    – c.p.
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 7:08
  • 1
    What @c.p. says. I’m sure this has been asked before, e.g. in german.stackexchange.com/questions/7145/…
    – Crissov
    Commented Apr 30, 2016 at 7:13
  • Please have a look here, I shortly googled it: deutschakademie.de/online-deutschkurs/…
    – Thomas
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 13:01
  • I'll be chastized for this again, but most transitive verbs come with an Akkusativ for the direct object (the object or person on which the action of the verb is being performed), with some exceptions, like helfen, danken, etc. which use Dativ for the direct object. Intransitive verbs don't have a direct object, so they don't matter. As c.p. said, verbs that are followed by a Nominativ or Genitiv are pretty rare and can easily be memorized. Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 3:57

4 Answers 4



The list of verbs, that need an object in nominative case is short. You can call this object a Nominativobjekt, but the more common term is Gleichsetzungsnominativ (nominative of equality).

  • sein

    Hans ist Lehrer.
    Hans is teacher.

  • werden

    Jürgen wird Arzt.
    Jürgen becomes a doctor.

  • bleiben

    Walter bleibt ein Dummkopf.
    Walter stays a fool.

  • heißen

    Ich heiße Hubert.
    My name is Hubert.

  • (zu sein) scheinen

    Lisa scheint die Anführerin zu sein.
    Lisa seems to be the leader.

  • gelten (als)

    Helmut gilt als Draufgänger.
    Helmut is considered to be a daredevil.

  • (sich) fühlen (als)

    Donald fühlt sich als der Herrscher der Welt.
    Donald feels like the ruler of the world.

  • (sich) erweisen (als)

    Das erwies sich als Fehler.
    That turned out to be a mistake.

  • (sich) entpuppen (als)

    Das Paket entpuppte sich als eine Bombe.
    The package turned out to be a bomb.

  • (sich) dünken (outdated)

    Unser Chef dünkt sich etwas Besseres.
    Our boss thinks to be something better.


Genitive case often appears inside a nominal group as a possessive attribute of another noun, but there are also lots of other attributive usages of genitive case inside of nominal phrases. But you asked for verbs that need genitive objects, and there are no verbs inside of nominal phrases, so in most cases when you see a noun or a phrase in genitive case, this case is not ruled by a verb.

But there are still some verbs, that need a genitive object, and those verbs are rare too. Note, that many of them also can take a prepositional object instead of a genitive object.

  • bedürfen

    Dieser Umstand bedarf einer Untersuchung.
    This circumstance requires an investigation.

  • entbehren

    Diese Behauptung entbehrt jeder Grundlage.
    This assertion lacks any basis.

  • ermangeln

    Seine Aussagen ermangeln eines Beweises.
    His statements lack proof.

  • gedenken

    Wir gedenken der Toten.
    We commemorate the dead.

  • harren

    Wir harren deiner.
    We are waiting for you.

  • spotten

    Das spottet jeder Beschreibung.
    It beggars belief.

  • (sich) annehmen

    Irene hat sich seiner Kinder angenommen.
    Irene has taken care of his children.

  • (sich) bedienen

    Er bedient sich des Messers.
    He uses the knife.

  • (sich) besinnen

    Der Priester besann sich seines Gelöbnisses.
    The priest remembered his vow.

  • (sich) erfreuen (veraltet auch: sich freuen)

    Susanne erfreute sich des warmen Wetters.
    Susanne enjoyed the warm weather.

  • (sich) erinnern

    Er erinnert sich deiner nicht mehr.
    He does not remember you anymore.

  • (sich) rühmen

    Er rühmte sich auch noch der Tat.
    He even boasted of the act.

  • (sich) schämen

    Schämst du dich meiner?
    Are you ashamed of me?

  • (jemanden) (einer Sache) berauben

    Er hat mich meines Bargeldes beraubt.
    He robbed my cash.

  • (jemanden) (einer Position) entheben

    Der Kanzler wurde seines Amtes enthoben. The chancellor was dismissed from office.

  • (jemanden) (eines Ortes) verweisen

    Der Rüpel wurde des Lokals verwiesen.
    The ruffian was expelled from the pub.

In the next examples you will find groups of words, that might look like nominal phrases at first glance (like der Vater des Kindes = the father of the child), but in fact are a accusative object followed by a genitive object. All this examples occur when talking about crimes, so this special kind of genitive case is called genitivus criminis (genitive of crime). But it is not an attribute of any noun, but really an object that is ruled by the verb.

  • (jemanden) (einer Tat) verdächtigen

    Der Ermittler verdächtigte den Tankwart des Mordes.
    The investigator suspected the attendant of the murder.

The following verbs work exactly like verdächtigen:

  • anklagen (to accuse)
  • beschuldigen (to accuse)
  • bezichtigen (to accuse)
  • zeihen (outdated) (to accuse)
  • überführen (to find guilty)

Dativ und Akkusativ

The rest of the more than 14,000 German verbs need either no object (altern, schlafen, wachsen, ...) or an object in dative (gehören, vertrauen, nützen, ...) or accusative case (haben, kaufen, fragen, ...) or even both (geben, schenken, wünschen, ...). There are also verbs that can take two accusative objects (lehren, nennen, kosten, ...). (Verbs that take a genitive and an accusative object are already listed above.)

Since this place here is not appropriate to list 14,000 verbs, i have to ask you to search for them in your own.

There are patterns that cover some verbs, but most verbs do fit in such patterns, so I think the best way is to do what all native speakers did: Learn for each verb which case it needs for its objects.


Although there's the general answer "just learn them", you can try to imagine by the meaning of the verbs and what they actually do, and how they interact with the clause subject and objects:

Verbs with Dativ: an indirect object is involved (the verb can something do related to someone which means you can ask "to whom?"):

  • verbs of giving and taking, transferring information, possession
  • examples: (mir) sagen, (mir) zuhören, (ihm) gehören

Verbs with Akkusativ: a direct object is involved, which means:

  • verbs that control or rule, targets, name or give properties
  • examples: (ihn) treffen, (mich) fallenlassen, (ihn) nennen

Verbs with Dativ+Akkusativ: both ones, the direct and indirect object, are involved:

  • the subject (Nominativ) does the direct object (Akkusativ) related to the indirect object (Dativ)
  • examples: Den Brief, kannst du (ihn) (mir) bringen, kannst du (ihn) (mir) schreiben?

Verbs with Genitiv: rarely used, usage sounds a bit stiltet, often written language, point out to a reason or origin, have often also an Akkusativ version:

  • examples: bedürfen (eines Grundes), gedenken (des Verstorbenen)

Verbs with Nominativ: used for assignment:

  • example: (er) ist (Maler), (er) heißt (van Gogh)
  • 1
    Please show me at least one German grammar book, where the terms direktes Objekt or indirektes Objekt are used. You will not be able to do this, because there is neither a direct object nor an indirect object in German grammar. Please do not use terms, are are irrelevant in German grammar to explain German grammar. Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 14:59
  • 1
    @Hubert: Well, this explains it a bit. Grammar books probably use the terms "Akkusativobjekt" and "Dativobjekt", but they do correspond to what are called "direct" and "indirect object" in many other languages (including English and Dutch), so it certainly helps in explaining them. Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 22:53

The image here might be helpful:


It's from https://www.deutschakademie.de/online-deutschkurs/deutschkurs/dativ-akkusativ-erklaerung

I am also learning DE too but skipped A1.2, and I need to learn the Dativ and Akkusativ properly.

  • The question was about verbs that require a specific case. Not about that cases themselves.
    – Janka
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 13:41

I am a B2 student. I shall tell you that there are simple things that you shall use to get out that it is accusative or dative. It is with respect to movement. If there's a movement in the verb it is accusative, and no movement means dative. Simple it is.

  • 2
    Where is the movement in ‘ich kenne dich’?
    – Jan
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 3:57
  • @Jan Here "dich" is an object and object is in accusative. (In other languages it is called even as "object case".) This answer is likely for prepositions.
    – peterh
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 9:53
  • 2
    »Ich begrüße dich« - Movement? »Ich fahre zu dir« - No movement? And how does this help with genitive (»Ich gedenke deiner«) and nominative (»Ich bin nicht du«)? Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 12:18
  • @peterh Yes, I am aware of the grammar. It was a consciously chosen example to show that OP’s claim is without substance. See also the examples by Hubert.
    – Jan
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 14:58

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