In one of nthuleen's exercise sheets, it is given that (question 1.4, see the answer sheet)

Herbert ist ein guter Freund (m) von mir.

However, "Freund" is a direct object in this sentence, hence it is an accusative case. According to the declension table of Laura, it should have been

Herbert ist einen guten Freund (m) von mir.

But the answer key declines the adjective as if it is a nominative case. Am I missing something in here or is the answer sheet wrong?

  • 1
    And once again a learner of German has been lead astray by the term "direct object". And by the way, no, Freund is not a direct object. It is actually no object at all.
    – RHa
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 18:35
  • @RHa Is there a better way to think about the cases in German than thinking about direct/indirect object?
    – Our
    Commented Jan 1, 2022 at 11:41

1 Answer 1


Apparently, when "sein" is the main verb and it used to mean one thing is equal to another, i.e "X ist Y", or to describe a feature of something, "Y" is also becomes nominative case.

  • 3
    Yes. And that's why it is not the "direct object". Such thing does not exist in German; it is a term for English grammar which does not translate exactly to German. Any rule concerning these will have exceptions. Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 17:39
  • 3
    It's best to use "accusative object" and "dative object" for German, since the "direct/indirect" distinction isn't reliable in German. I'd call guter Freund here a "predicate object", and unlike English these match the case of the other noun. So with sein both are nominative: Ich bin ein Berliner not Ich bin einen Berliner. With nennen both are accusative: "Ich nenne ihn einen Berliner."
    – RDBury
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 18:39

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