Playing is the movement then why do we not consider the object used with it as Akkusativ . EGg Ich spiele am Computer. Why not an den Computer?

While using translator to verify articles, I noticed it does not include akkusativ or dativ for sport name. Are we supposed to follow same ?

I am playing chess. Ich spiele Schach.

I am playing badminton on the ground. Ich spiele Badminton auf dem Boden

  • 2
    Since these are two completely different questions, each should have its own post.
    – David Vogt
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 8:05
  • 1
    Some short remarks: German doesn't have a concept of direct or indirect objects, so it might not be helpful to think in those categories. Whether to use a dative or an accusative object mostly depends on whether you're talking about location or about direction, see (among several other questions) here. And "auf dem Boden" is much more literal "on the floor" than the English expression "on the ground". If you're talking about the "playing grounds", that would be the "Spielfeld". Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 9:35
  • German case is not governed by verbs only. If there is a preposition, its case will take precedence, similar for certain adjectives and adverbs. Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 11:32
  • You don't use an article when you are speaking of a general category, e.g. playing a kind of sports/game. You use an article when you speak of something specific, e.g. playing a specific chess opening, playing a match.
    – Bodo
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 11:56
  • 2
    You mean that the name of the sport is used without an article. The noun still has a case (here it is akkusativ), it may just not show.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 12:32

1 Answer 1


The verb spielen can take multiple different extensions.

If you want to name the exact game you're playing, that will be an accusative object:

Ich spiele das Hütchenspiel.

Although in many cases you won't be able to tell as the proper noun will just take the null article (and many game names rarely take articles at all):

Ich spiele Schafkopf.

The same, by the way, is true for games played on the computer or on a console:

Ich spiele das erste Tomb Raider.
Ich spiele das neue Pokémon Snap.

(adjectives added to highlight the articles and thus the object case.)

It is different if you want to give the name of the platform rather than the name of the game. While some non-technologically savvy people will consider something like Nintendo, Computer or Switch as if it were the name of a game, better and more common usage is to consider this a place you're playing at. Therefore, these words will typically take an + dative.

Ich spiele am Computer.
Ich spiele an der Switch.

(Don't ask me why it is die Switch and die Wii while it is der Gamecube and der (Super-) Nintendo. I don't think anybody will be able to give an answer.

If you wish to consider an a Wechselpräposition in this context (it doesn't have to be), then the reasoning would be that during the act of playing you are staying in the same general area and not moving towards or into something. Compare the traditional card games where four people (sometimes three) might be sitting around a table and just picking up and putting down cards; they are playing am Tisch.

Additional extensions are possible. Playing with someone or something is indicated by a prepositional object mit + dative. Examples:

Er spielt mit der Puppe.
Sie spielt mit dem Computer.

Most people would consider am Computer and mit dem Computer to be largely interchangeable; although there are different nuances.

Of course, you can put it all together:

Sie spielt mit ihren Freunden Counterstrike am Computer.

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