Wie? Was meinst du, welchen Mann?

The accusative welchen is used here instead of the nominative welcher. So the speaker has in mind the paraphrase "Welchen Mann meinst du?".

{vs}: Genau das meine ich – Renates neuer Zeitvertreib.

In this instance, however, it is the other way round; the nominative neuer is used in place of the accusative neuen. The speaker has in mind the paraphrase "Renates neuer Zeitvertreib meine ich" which is not grammatical.

Both sentences share essentially the same sentence construction, so in the 2nd example, I'm tempted to swap in the accusative neuen and say:

Genau das meine ich – Renates neuen Zeitvertreib.

I wonder what causes this accusative-nominative difference between the two similar sentences?

  • 3
    A bit more context would be helpful. The first sentence may be "Was meinst du, welchen Mann (hat er gesehen)?" And the second - "Genau das meine ich - (Schwimmen ist) Renates neuer Zeitvertreib".
    – Eller
    Apr 19, 2017 at 12:08
  • @Eller Hi. The contexts are indeed pretty much how you describe them. Now it makes perfect sense! Apr 19, 2017 at 22:21

2 Answers 2


Asking "why" in language issues is often an ill-fitting approach. Things are as they are. It is more common practice than based on a rationale.

However, in order to explain the two different approaches:

Was meinst du, welchen Mann?

is both grammatically correct and could be met in everyday language. However, also

Was meinst du, welcher Mann?

could be met in everyday language. In more formal contexts (where correct use of cases etc. is desirable) you would rather not say (or write) this, unless you deliberately want to give the sentence an "oral" touch.

Genau das meine ich, Renates neuer Zeitvertreib

is grammatically not correct; by the commonly accepted rules it should be "Genau das meine ich, Renates neuen Zeitvertreib", at least when you see only this isolated sentence. However, it can anyway occur in everyday situations. It would so especially if there was some "nominativish" environment, e.g.:

A: Was macht Renate denn da? Strickt sie? Ist das ihr neuer Zeitvertreib? {Nominative!}

B: Genau das meine ich; Renates neuer Zeitvertreib.

The nominative in this case could be understood as a reference to the nominative in the previous sentence; or as caused by ommitting a (virtually present) "es ist" in the current sentence. But these explanations are very technical. In (oral) reality, you would simply find both.


Your change to Akkusativ is correct.

Genau das meine ich – Renates neuen Zeitvertreib.

However, the example which offends you is also correct, when it's meant as Gleichsetzungsnominativ.

Heinz: Ich fühle mich ziemlich allein.

Thomas: Renate verbringt viel Zeit mit ihrem Sprachkurs?

Heinz: Genau das meine ich – (Es ist) Renates neuer Zeitvertreib.

The last sentence is that Gleichsetzung.

  • Thank you. So can I assume that "etw. zu tun" is also implied at the end"? "(Es ist) Renates neuer Zeitvertreib, (etw. zu tun)" Apr 19, 2017 at 22:25
  • No, this isn't necessary. It's simply "A is B". Both A and B are Nominativ in that case.
    – Janka
    Apr 20, 2017 at 5:53

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