In Duden's 1. Klasse Tiergeschichten, there is this sentence on page 8:

Am Ende der Ferien schenkt die Bäuerin Malte ein Hühnerei.

das Ende die Ferien die Bäuerin Malte (a name) das Hühnerei

Below, are my understandings of the cases. Please correct or elaborate where I got things wrong.

Am = An dem => Dativ. Since "an" is a two way preposition, the author had a xhoice. Using the Dative indicates that the end of the vacation should be thought of as a prolonged period of time, during which the giving started, progressed, and completed. If the accusative had been used (Ans Ende), it would have marked the end as a brief moment in time and the giving started before the end. As soon as the giving was complete, that moment marks the end.

der Ferien is genative because the Vacation is the owner of the End.

die Bäuerin is performing the action, so it is nominative.

ein Hühnerei is accusative because that is what the giving action is acting on. The egg is the dynamic o ject.

Malte is in the dative case because he is the static object, and passively recieving the egg. If there had been an article (e.g. der Junge), it would be dative (i.e. dem Junge). If Malte had an adjective (e.g. kleine Malte), it would be dative without article: kleinem Malte. If it was a girl, then kleiner Maria.

This one sentence in a children's book required bringing together so much, that I hope it will serve as a good mosel for these concepts.

Thank you for your feedback.

  • 5
    Thank you for your contribution. Do you have a distinct question on any of your considerations? As it stands now it reads like "please tell me I am correct" which would not be a good fit for this site as it would not help future visitors. It'd be cool if you came to a good question on a single topic of this sentence to edit this into your post. Thank you. – Takkat Aug 29 '18 at 7:28
  • Please revisit the dative case endings (it must be dem Jungen), and also when omitting the article is appropriate. Here, it's not, it had to read einem kleinen Jungen. – Janka Aug 29 '18 at 8:20

Your understanding of the two-way prepositions with dative/accusative as used in time is much too complicated. Both in space as in time, two-way prepositions work as simple as follows:

  • Dative marks a place

  • Accusative marks a direction

Note that's only true for the nine two-way prepositions an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor, zwischen. For other prepositions, the case is fixed and dative may mark a direction there, as well accusative may mark a place.

Directions in time are as simple as in space:

  1. April: Tanz in den Mai

That's a usual invitation you may read at a local community ballroom or hotel. Using the direction means the ball starts in the evening of April 30th and will last beyond midnight.

Ich verschiebe meinen Ausflug ans Ende der Ferien.

I move my journey to the end of holiday season.

The journey is moved, and movement requires a direction.

Also, your notion of dynamic object and static object tells you are still in the thinking of direct object and indirect object. This won't help you in German, as the use of cases does not follow that mapping. Instead, there is an even simpler set of rules, based on the verb in question:

  • Nominative "objects": Called Prädikativ, these are used commonly with the copula sein and werden, and in some obscure cases with the verbs bleiben, heißen, and scheinen.

  • Genitive objects: About two dozen verbs (half of them common) take genitive objects. All other non-prepositional genitives are marking supplements.

  • Dative objects: These are almost exclusively for the receiver of something. Often in a derivative sense. Often, verbs include a "thing" inside them. E.g. the verb antworten includes die Antwort. You are giving an answer to a receiver. In that case, the dative object becomes the only object to that verb.

  • Accusative objects: These are for anything else.

And, as a last rule, there are half a dozen verbs (all common) which take two accusative objects.

Der Schüler fragt den Lehrer etwas.

→ Learn the verbs which take two accusative objects. It's a very short list.

→ Learn the verbs which take genitive objects. It's a short list.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.