I have some sentences which have a simple structure of a Subject, Object and Indirect Object.

Ich hole dem Hund das Futter.
Er kauft der Frau die Karte.

Here Futter and Karte are in accusative case and we have explicitly used das and die in front of them.

Then there are two other sentences as follows:

Wir geben einem Mann Geld.
Sie kauft unserem Kind Schokolade.

Here Geld and Schokolade are direct objects in the sentence, however we have not used the articles in accusative form in front of them.

Is there any hidden rule, when to use accusative article explicitly and when not?


I realised it's not a duplicate. Geld and Schokolade are uncountable objects. The same is true for salt, water or anger.

Unless you're Homer Simpson you can not have one, two or three money. You just have money or not. German shares this grammar property.

Uncountable objects are used without article. If you want to be specific you have to introduce another quantifier

Sie kauft ihm Schokolade
Sie kauft ihm eine Tafel Schokolade
Sie kauft ihm zwei Tafeln Schokolade (2 chocolate bars)

You can still use the definite article, if the quantity was referenced before or if you talk about a specific quantity.

A: Ich habe ihm Geld gegeben
B: Aber nicht das Geld, was auf der Kommode lag?

Das Geld, was ich zurückbekommen habe, habe ich schon wieder ausgegeben

Ich habe heute Futter im Laden gekauft. Später gebe ich das Futter meinen Tieren.

  • Aber wir könnten einem Mann das Geld geben und dem Kind die Schokolade, wenn zuvor von einer konkreten Menge Geld oder einer konkreten Schokolade die Rede gewesen wäre, auf die sich das oder die dann beziehen würde. "Die Schokolade war 3 Monate über das Mindesthaltbarkeitsdatum." "Ich habe ein paar Euros mit Gesang in der Fußgängerzone verdient." "Futter" scheint mir auch uncountable zu sein. – user unknown Mar 30 '20 at 12:00
  • 1
    Even the food is uncountable, why does it get the article then? – Navjot Singh Mar 30 '20 at 12:01
  • @userunknown fixed it for the specific article. However, Euro is countable by definition. – infinitezero Mar 30 '20 at 12:23
  • @infinitezero: Die zwei Sätze mit MHD und Euro sollen der Kontext sein, der es erlaubt dann im nächsten Satz "die Schokolade", "das Geld" zu sagen, sprich, den bestimmten Artikel zu benutzen, wie bei "das Futter" oder "die Karte". Zählbarkeit ist m.E. die falsche Fährte. – user unknown Mar 30 '20 at 15:57
  • "Wie wäre ich dann ..."? Verstehe ich nicht.Typo, Flüchtigkeitsfehler? – user unknown Mar 30 '20 at 17:33

I think Geld and Schokolade are used in their general terms here, meaning that they don't refer to a specific countable object of Geld or Schokolade, and more to the general class of Geld or Schokolade, so the article is dismissed because you don't refer to a specific countable object.

Another example would be Ich mag Schokolade, which would translate to I like chocolate.

But when you refer to a specific type of chocolate, like in Ich mag die Schokolade von Lindt, this translates to I like the Lindt chocolate, where the article suddenly is present as well. So this rule is present in a very similar form in English as well.

So in conclusion it's not about the accusative object itself but to what you refer with it: a specific countable object or item or a general, uncountable class.

Be aware that when referring to the general class, you need to use the plural. This example may not be the best, because Geld and Schokolade both don't have a plural form applicable in this case, because both are uncountable objects here. A better example would be Ich mag Autos, and when we refer to something specific: Ich mag dein Auto

  • I can also use a car in a general term i.e. not a BMW or a Mercedes, but I still need to use an article. – infinitezero Mar 30 '20 at 11:19
  • Yes, but with a car you don't refer to a specific car. As I said, the rule for english is SIMILAR, but NOT THE SAME as the rule in german – Vincent Guttmann Mar 30 '20 at 11:26
  • That is precisely my point. According to your explanation it should be "Ich mag Auto" and "Ich mag den BMW". But the correct version would be "Ich mag ein/das Auto". So your conclusion is wrong. – infinitezero Mar 30 '20 at 11:27
  • As I'm not referring to a specific car, it should be Ich mag Autos, because you must use the plural when referring to the general class. I know, I didn't add that to my explanation, because Geld and Schokolade are the Same in singular and plural – Vincent Guttmann Mar 30 '20 at 11:30
  • Duden | Geld either is not used in plural or the plural is Gelder. The plural of Duden | Schokolade is Schokoladen. – infinitezero Mar 30 '20 at 11:33

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.