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Here is a sentence.

Freust du dich auf das Fußballspiel?

My question is why is the accusative reflexive pronoun used in the presented context, given how there already is an accusative object "das Fußballspiel"? Shouldn't one be using "dir" instead of "dich"?

3 Answers 3

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given how there already is an accusative object "das Fußballspiel"

No. You got that wrong. Das Fußballspiel is not an accusative object in that clause but a part of the prepositional object auf das Fußballspiel.

You can tell that from the leading preposition auf. If there is a preposition in front of a noun phrase, it can only be an adverbial or a prepositional object.

So what is it in this clause? The preposition auf with accusative means onto in an adverbial. That makes no sense with most nouns and verbs, and freuen is no exception. So it must be a prepositional object, and freuen auf is a phrasal verb.


On top of that, it's sich freuen auf, a reflexive verb. That reflexive accusative object refers back to the subject.

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Freuen in the reflexive form always uses accusative for the reflexive part:

  • Ich freue mich
  • du freust dich
  • er/sie/es freut sich
  • wir freuen uns
  • ihr freut euch
  • sie freuen sich

Then, it depends on the preposition whether you use the accusative or dative: e.g. auf forces accusative but mit forces dative.

Ich freue mich auf meine Mutter - I'm looking forward seeing/meeting my mother.

Ich freue mich mit meiner Mutter - I'm happy for my mother.

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  • Ich gebe mir Mühe, as an example requiring the dative with a reflexive verb would be a nice addition.
    – guidot
    Jun 5, 2023 at 12:55
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"Freuen" in the given context - unlike the english counterpart "to enjoy" - is a reflexive Verb. It is "sich freuen" ("enjoy yourself", which would make no sense in English). Also, keep in mind that in this context "freuen" and "erfreuen" is often used interchangeably and sometimes "erfreuen" is more common than "freuen". The biggest problem perhaps is, that the concept of "being enjoyed / to enjoy" in english thinking and "sich (er-)freuen / (er-)freuen" in german thinking works differently, which is why nuances in expression sometimes lead to vastly different translations.

There is:

sich freuen auf [+Akkusativ] - to look forward to

Ich freue mich auf den Hauptgang. (I look forward to the main course.)

sich freuen an/über [+Akkusativ] - to enjoy something or to be enjoyed because of something

Ich freue mich über Geschenke. (I enjoy [getting] presents.)
Ich freue mich über Blumen. (I enjoy [getting/seeing/...] flowers.
Ich erfreue mich an Blumen. (Flowers make me feel happy.)

sich freuen mit [+Dativ] (über [+Akkusativ]) - to enjoy (something) with someone

Ich freue mich mit dem Vater. (I feel enjoyed with the father. Basically, he feels joy and I emphatize with him.)
Ich freue mich mit den Kindern über Geschenke. (They feel joy because of their presents and i feel with them.)

sich freuen [+Genitiv] - to enjoy something

Freut euch des Lebens! (Enjoy life (you all)!)

freuen [+Akkusativ] - to instill joy in someone

Das freut den Betrachter. This makes the viewer happy/glad/... .

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