German uses the accusative for definite time expressions, both for durations ("Ich mache es den ganzen Tag") and points in time ("Ich mache es nächsten Samstag"), and the genitive for indefinite time expressions ("Eines Tages").

Classical Latin also uses the accusative for durations.

What are the etymological reasons for this usage of specific cases without pronouns for adverbials? Any other languages where this happens?

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    Linguistics.SE might be better suited for this question (in particular for the second sub-question).
    – Uwe
    Jun 27, 2022 at 14:28
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    As far as "nächsten Samstag" (instead of "am nächsten Samstag") is concerned, I suspect that the adverbial use led to the omission of "am", following the pattern of temporal adverbs like "heute", "gestern", and so on (as adverbs require no preposition). By the way, is this actually an accusative ("Ich mache es [am] nächsten Samstag")?
    – Shakesbeer
    Nov 26, 2022 at 6:24
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    @Shakesbeer But what about "Ich mache es diesen Dienstag"? No "am" was ommitted here, and if an "an" is omitted, you get "Ich mache es diesem Dienstag" which is clearly wrong.
    – RHa
    Nov 26, 2022 at 13:54

1 Answer 1


I don't know what the etymological reason for it is, but it's the same in Polish, Russian, Czech, and probably the other Slavic languages, as well. It can be compared to the use of "of" in older or dialectical English in the expressions like "of a Tuesday evening" to mean "on any Tuesday evening." See here: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/286540/is-the-expression-of-an-evening-of-a-morning-of-a-saturday-good-english

  • Proto-Indo-European (probably) had no exclusively temporal case, so it is quite possible that this was already similar in PIE. In Latin, the ablative can be used for times. Maybe this was alredy the case in PIE.
    – RHa
    Nov 26, 2022 at 14:03

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