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Manche sprechen von einer neuen Evolution, die das Leben auf unserem Planeten fundamental verändern könnte.

I take the case to be accusative because of "auf" and the verb "verändern" which has the meaning of change and movement, and I take the gender to be masculine. And that is why it is "Planeten" and not "planet". But then shouldn't it be "unseren" too?

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The word “Planet” is still singular as seen here. Certain word endings change based on what precedes them.

You can read more here about the endings (go to the last paragraph). One example they cite is “Student.” Let’s apply it:

Ich helfe meinem Studenten. I help my student.

Ich helfe meinen Studenten. I help my students.

These words largely have to be memorized.

Edit: As @johnl notes, this is also not in accusative. The phrase “on our planet,” which indicates a place, is in this case an example of the dative.

However, some word endings would also change for the accusative. So, the accusative for “Planet” would still have the same ending. At that point, you rely on the case and the article to indicate whether it’s plural or singular. If “Planet” is in the accusative and plural, it would be preceded by “die” and not “den.”

In other words:

Accusative: den Planeten (singular), die Planeten (plural)

Compare this to:

Dative: dem Planeten (singular), den Planeten (plural)

This is why the entire sentence/context needs to be considered.

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    I think the crucial mistake here might be the (mis)identification of unserem Planeten in the example as an accusative. Perhaps you want to address that? – johnl Nov 26 '19 at 16:12
  • @johnl Isn't planeten accusative here? – Sasan Nov 26 '19 at 16:25
  • No, it is the dative. The “planet” is neither a direct object nor a destination here. I modified my answer above to reflect that. Thanks @johnl – eurieka Nov 26 '19 at 16:37
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The distinction isn't about change and movement or not, but about direction vs location.

The verb verändern can take a direction, but that's obviously the direction of change, not the place where the change happens.

Sie verändert das Kuchenrezept ihrer Oma über den guten Geschmack hinaus.

Paul hat sich in diesem Seminar sehr zum Besseren verändert.

In the latter example it's both preposition+dative, because zu always takes dative, and always means a direction.

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  • Thank you for the point. I think you told me that before. But you didn't answer the question! – Sasan Nov 26 '19 at 16:21
  • It's Planeten because it is dative case! It's a location, not a direction. – Janka Nov 26 '19 at 17:56
  • No, as explained in the other anwer, it is planeten because it is an exception. If it was a normale dative, it wouldn't get -en, because it is masculine. – Sasan Nov 27 '19 at 10:43
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    It's normal for n-declination. Most n-declined nouns have an -e in nominative singular case, but not all of them. See the huge list of alternative endings at the end of mein-deutschbuch.de/n-deklination.html, and -et isn't even listed there, though Poet, Asket, Planet, Athlet, Magnet, … are all n-declined. – Janka Nov 27 '19 at 11:38

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