2

Die Kinder sehen den ganzen Tag fern. (The children watch TV all day. )

The phrase

den ganzen Tag = all day

is an adverbial phrase of duration since it responds to the question :how often? Why is it using the accusative? As far as I know the accusative is used as object of verbs, which is not the case here. What's the rule behind it?

  • 3
    This is a common logical error. Even if all ravens were black, this does not mean that all non-ravens are not black; other birds could be black, too. The same here: even though "the accusative is used as object of verbs", this does not mean that everything else cannot be accusative. – Björn Friedrich Oct 22 '19 at 16:56
  • You are right is duration. I corrected that – J.C.VegaO Oct 22 '19 at 17:31
  • 2
    @πάντα ῥεῖ The question is about den ganzen Tag. Die Kinder is nominative, since it is the subject of the sentence – J.C.VegaO Oct 22 '19 at 17:32
4

Some grammars (e.g. Duden-Grammatik) call this an "adverbial accusative" (adverbialer Akkusativ):

"The adverbial accusative usually expresses a measurement, such as a distance, a deadline, a weight, a temperature, or an amount of money [...] It is in a dependency relation to verbs, adjectives, or adverbs; in some cases, it is demanded by those words [...], in some cases it modifies them." (Duden-Grammatik, 8th edn 2009, para 1246; my translation)

Examples are:

  • Ich wiege [zwei Kilo] weniger als du.
  • Ich hatte [zwei Wochen] Urlaub. Ich war [zwei Wochen] im Urlaub.
  • Ich arbeite schon [sehr lange Zeit] an dem Projekt.
  • Das Buch kostet [einen Euro].
  • Sein Hobby kostet ihn/erfordert von ihm [viel Einsatz].

In more technical terms, such adverbial complements are sometimes called "dilativ", meaning they express some sort of extent. There are different means in German to realise this. One way is a prepositional phrase (Die Kinder schauten [über zwei Stunden] fern.), another one would be an adverbial phrase (Die Kinder schauten [lange] fern.) and yet another one is a noun phrase in accusative case, which is what you are looking at here. See Grammis for details.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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