In this sentence why isn't "der Couch" in the accusative or dative i.e. den Couch or dem Couch? I thought after the word "auf" you always use accusative or dative.

Du kannst mein Bett haben, und ich schlafe auf der Couch.

  • Why would someone downvote this? It looks like a reasonable question for a learner? Oct 25, 2020 at 11:15

2 Answers 2


Your assumption about auf taking the dative or accusative case is absolutely correct. The place where you have gone wrong is in thinking that Couch is necessarily a masculine noun. According to Duden, Couch is a masculine or feminine noun, and the sentence does indeed have Couch in the feminine dative.

  • 6
    Actually, "Couch" is typically grammatically feminine in Germany. "Der Couch" seems to a Swiss thing. Oct 24, 2020 at 10:23
  • So are both genders understood the same 100%? Or is there a nuance/reason to use the masculine over feminine for example. (Though it could be regional as per @HenningKockerbeck)
    – BruceWayne
    Oct 24, 2020 at 19:42
  • @BruceWayne "Der Couch" would definitely be considered as just plain wrong outside of Swiss German (It would probably be considered as wrong even in large parts of Switzerland). Hope thats enough nuance ;)
    – tofro
    Oct 24, 2020 at 22:39
  • Duden frequently marks particular usage as being "regional". It's somewhat surprising then, given some of the comments above, that in the case of "Couch", the use of "der" is not marked as being a local or regional variant. Oct 25, 2020 at 0:15

In your sentence, it is the preposition auf that determines the case of Couch.

"auf" can rule either the accusative (with a directional movement) or dative (without). There's no directional movement involved, so Couch needs to be (and actually, is, in your example, as "die Couch" is feminine) in dative.

Couch being masculine (opposed to feminine everywhere else where German is spoken) is actually a (nearly) neglectable exception valid for Swiss German only - which is, in fact, neglected by many dictionaries. Your dictionary, if it's a good one, should make that clear.

  • 2
    I'm pretty sure the OP was confused by der dative feminine being the same as der nominative masculine, and that the Swiss did not enter into it. It takes a while for learners to digest that particular bit of gristle; in fact I'm still working on it myself. Neither of the two Wiktionaries (en & de) nor DWDS mentions that masculine Couch is even possible, and Duden on-line just mentions it without any explanation.
    – RDBury
    Oct 24, 2020 at 11:30
  • no. Leo dictionary doesn't. Dict.cc does dict.cc/?s=Couch NOUN1 die Couch | die Couches/Couchs/Couchen NOUN2 der Couch [schweiz. neben {f}] | die Couches/Couchs} I understand that to mean: In "schweiz/Swiss" they use der Couch. Thanks!
    – redhalls
    Oct 25, 2020 at 9:33

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