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Der Apfel liegt auf dem Tisch.

Can someone explain me why Tisch is in dative case and not in akkusative?

marked as duplicate by PiedPiper, peterh, Frank from Frankfurt, guidot, RHa Feb 21 at 19:19

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German has nine dual-way prepositions: an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor and zwischen. These prepositions can take either the dative case or the accusative case, depending on whether a place or a direction is meant. Telling the two cases apart can be a bit tricky. Luckily, most times the verb commands direction or place.

Ich lege den Apfel auf den Tisch. ← It's a direction, the verb legen requires one.

Der Apfel liegt auf dem Tisch. ← It's a place, the verb liegen requires one.

Note this is only true for these nine prepositions. Other prepositions as zu or aus always take the dative case though they mean a direction, or, as durch, always take the accusative case though they mean a place. There is also a small number of genitive prepositions.

Also note there is a small number of prepositions as entlang which take a different case depending on whether they are used as prepositions or postpositions.

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