I’m learning about “Finalsätze” and I got the following example from my teacher.

Ich lerne fleißig Deutsch. Mein Chef soll zufrieden sein.

Ich lerne fleißig Deutsch, damit mein Chef zufrieden ist.

Why isn’t it meinen Chef? I interpret that Chef is in accusative?

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    Why should 'mein Chef' be accusative? It is the subject of the subordinate clause and is in nominative (as all subjects).
    – jarnbjo
    Jul 21, 2017 at 13:06
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    Have you tried Google? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dependent_clause
    – jarnbjo
    Jul 21, 2017 at 13:12
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    If it was "Ich lerne Fleissig Deutsch. Ich mache meinen Chef soll zufrieden." Then would it be "Ich lerne fleissig Deutsch, damit ich meinen Chef zufrieden mache.". Because then I think I can see the difference. @ChristianGeiselmann
    – Olba12
    Jul 21, 2017 at 14:32
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    Wer soll zufrieden sein? Der Chef soll zufrieden sein. Also Nominativ. Wen sollst du mit gutem Deutsch erfreuen? Den Chef sollst du mit gutem Deutsch erfreuen! Also Akkusativ. Wem sollst du alles recht machen? Dem Chef! Also Dativ. Wessen Frau sollst du nicht anbaggern? Dem Chef seine! Also Genitiv (correctly of course die Frau des Chefs; dem Chef seine Frau is a form used in southern parts of Germany in oral communication, it is non-standard German; correct is die Frau des Chefs). Jul 21, 2017 at 14:40
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    @ChristianGeiselmann: Asking such questions to identify grammatical cases is usually only useful to native speakers who intuitively use the grammatical cases correctly and thus will ask the correct questions. Language learners cannot do this.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jul 22, 2017 at 8:25

2 Answers 2


Do you already understand why "Mein Chef" in the sentence "Mein Chef soll zufrieden sein." is nominative and not accusative?

If no: Hubert Schölnast's answer is what you are looking for.

If your problem is only "mein Chef" in "damit mein Chef zufrieden ist." the following question from your comment is the key:

I don't know what "subordinate clause" is?

When I understood your profile correctly you speak Swedish and that language also seems to have subordinate clauses. When combining two sentences to one sentence one of the sentences remains a main clause while the other sentence becomes a subordinate clause.

The same is true for English language:

Sentence 1: I want to get the job.

Sentence 2: Therefore I learn German.

Combined sentence: I learn German because I want to get the job.

In English language the word order in subordinate sentences does not change; in German language the word order of subordinate clauses differs from the word order in main clause:

Main clause: Ich will die Stelle bekommen.

Subordinate clause: ... ich die Stelle bekommen will.

... however the elements of a subordinate clause (Subject, dative object and accusative object) occuring in a subordinate clause are the same as in the main clause. Example:

Sentence 1: Mein Chef soll meiner Schwester eine Stelle geben.

Sentence 2: Sie lernt fleißig Deutsch.

Combined: Weil mein Chef meiner Schwester eine Stelle geben soll, lernt sie fleißig Deutsch.

In this example "Sentence 1" becomes a subordinate clause while "Sentence 2" reamains a main clause. "Sentence 1" has a subject ("mein Chef"), a dative object ("meiner Schwester") and an accusative object ("eine Stelle"). For this reason the subordinate clause in the combined sentence also has these elements.

The sentence from your example ("Mein Chef soll zufrieden sein.") contains a subject (nominative) and no objects (dative, accusative). Therefore the subordinate clause also only contains a subject.


You have two sentences. Either as two distinct sentences (in line 1), or joined together to one longer sentence via the subjunctive conjunction »damit« (in line 2).

In German a full sentence needs at least two parts of speech (same in English and almost all other languages spoken by humans):

  • A Subject.
    This is in active voice the part that is performing an action. In passive voice the subject is the target of the action. (Your example is in active voice)
  • A verb.
    This is the core of every sentence. It describes the action. It tells, what is going on in the sentence.

In German the subject is ALLWAYS in nominative case. No Exception of this rule.

In your example the action is »to be happy« (zufrieden sein). This is the verb.

The part of speech that is happy (or has to be happy), i.e. that part of speech that performs this action is »my boss« (mein Chef). So this is the subject, and because it is the subject, it has to be in nominative case. And the preposition mein is part of the subject and therefore also has to stand in nominative case.

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