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I am having trouble understanding why the two sentences below end in accusative:

  1. Meine Mutter findet, dass sie eine gute Ärztin hat.
  2. Der Mann sagt, dass er den Kaffee nicht mag.

Something I have noticed about these sentences is that because they have pronouns (sie/er) they become accusative vs the sentence below which does not have a pronoun before der Kaffee for example.

  1. Susann findet, dass der Kaffee gut ist.

So my question is: because there is no pronoun on the bottom sentence #3, does that make it non-accusative and just normal nominative?

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No. Verbs and prepositions govern the case. The verb sein demands the nominative:

Meine Mutter findet, dass ihre Ärztin gut ist

On the other hand etw. haben or etw./jmdn. mögen demands the accusative case.

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It does have to do with the pronoun in your examples, but you can't generalize that.

The important question is: in your "dass"-clauses, who or what is the subject, and who or what is the object? The subject is in nominative, the object is in a different case, most of the time accusative or dative.

For your examples that means:

Meine Mutter findet, dass sie eine gute Ärztin hat.

I'm looking at the dass-sentence here and ignoring anything else: Who/what has whom/what? She has a good doctor. So "she" is the subject, "eine gute Ärztin" is the object, that's why "sie" is nominative and "eine gute Ärztin" is accusative.

Same here:

Der Mann sagt, dass er den Kaffee nicht mag. Who/what doesn't like whom/what? He doesn't like the coffee. "Er" is the subject, "den Kaffee" is the object.

However:

Susann findet, dass der Kaffee gut ist. Who/what is good? The coffee is the subject here, that's why it's nominative.

People, things and pronouns can all be subjects or objects, it just depends on their role relative to the verb.

Der Mann sagt, dass seine Frau den Kaffee nicht mag. Seine Frau mag den Kaffee nicht => "Seine Frau" is subject, "den Kaffee" is object.

Der Mann sagt, dass seine Frau ihn nicht mehr mag. Seine Frau (subject, nominative) mag ihn (object, accusative) nicht mehr.

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  • "It does have to do with the pronoun in your examples". I disagree, it doesn't. Mar 29 at 13:05
  • The (nominative) pronouns are more like an indicator that there can't be another nominative phrase outside of the predicate, but not the reason. Mar 29 at 13:09
  • @infinitezero: well, read on, the rest of the answer explains it ... ;-) It has to do with the pronouns being there and being the subjects, not with the pronouns being pronouns.
    – HalvarF
    Mar 29 at 13:24
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The only reason for a noun phrase to be accusative is that a verb or a preposition requires the accusative. The case required by a verb or preposition is fixed for each syntactical role. It doesn't depend on the rest of the sentence.

Thus, the accusative in sentence 1 and 2 has nothing to do with the pronouns, but is required by the verbs jemanden/etw. mögen and jemanden/etw. haben. They take accusative objects. The phrases eine gute Ärztin and den Kaffee are their accusative objects. You could substitute the pronouns with every other nominal phrase without effects on the their case.

In sentence 3, the phrase der Kaffee is the subject of the subclause. The case of the subject is the nominative. Thus, der Kaffee is nominative.

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