According to the dictionary, aufmachen is used with accusative:

etw.Akk. aufmachen

Then why is

Wann macht der Supermarkt auf?

Instead of

Wann macht den Supermarkt auf?

For example here, but also in some other sites.

3 Answers 3


Aufmachen can be used as both, a transitive and an intransitive verb. So there you can aufmachen something but you can also just aufmachen. It is the same for the English verb to open.

Er macht den Laden auf. (acc)

He opens the store.

Der Laden macht um 6 auf.

The store opens at 6.

  • 1
    Perhaps to clarify for @Luis Sep: Note that "Supermarkt" is the subject here, not the object - that's why it can't be accusative. It would have to be, if the sentence was: "When does the manager open the supermarket?" = "Wann macht der Chef den Supermarkt auf?"
    – Mac
    Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 11:03
  • And while it is in principle possible that Supermarkt can be used as object to aufmachen, it is surely not the case her: Sentences without ocject are possible, but sentences without subject are not. Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 18:20

Wann macht der Supermarkt auf? is written with Supermarkt in the nominative case as indicated by the determinative der.

A simple test as to why this is the case would be to ask:

What (or who) is opening?

Answer: The super market. Nominative case nouns represent subjects of sentences or in vernacular: "the who or what, which is doing the action".

Hypothetically, if you were to write Wann macht den Supermarkt auf?, it would imply a subject (noun or pronoun) just before den Supermarkt:

Wann macht der Verkäufer den Supermarkt auf?

This is supplemental material This does not deal directly with the question, but I am including it because I know that understanding cases can result in headaches. It is rare, but sometimes a reversal of the standard dative-accusative word-order occurs for various reasons (e.g. emphasis, contrast)

This is rare, because it happens in rare situations and this usage may depend on where the language user is from). Example of contrast:

Jimmy: Er hat dem Jungen den Lastkraftwagen geschenkt!

Roger: Nein, Jimmy! Er hat das Auto dem Jungen geschenkt, nicht den Lastkraftwagen!

or with pronouns (this syntax occurs when both objects are pronouns):

Der Chef gibt ihn ihr.

But interestingly sometimes without pronouns:

Der Chef gibt den Brief der Sekretärin.

  • Regarding recasting the objects, read this article - Note, however, that it is important that you added examples with two objects as the "Verkäufer-Supermarkt" example does not have a dative object, so you cannot change the word-order. This is, why I didn't understand your addition in the first place.
    – Em1
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 6:45

Contrary opinion: aufmachen must be old and related to aufbrechen, refering to a driver or a company of passengers, for machen has in some speakers the connotation of moving (with prep. nach in the near-field), which may be observed in English more clearly (they made for the exit). If old indeed, it must not be confused with bread making, which is inherently tied to the word root (cp. mix), though the connotation of early rising (break of dawn) might exist in either case.

Other than that, suppletive verbal paradigms like German -machen are simply common enough to afford transparent constructions in the synchronic view, in particular die Tür, den Laden aufmachen. The homonymy with the upward direction is pretty arbitrary by now.

In this case we might think of metonymy, der Supermarkt understood as company, which is particularly appealing in the case of family businesses with appellative oenkonyms. The verb does not refer to an implicit subject. The store is the subject. However, the plural die Läden can be read in accusative with pro-drop if you will, but the singular use doesn't leave it open to interpretation.

  • "sich aufmachen" is still in use with the meaning of to go somewhere. That being said, this answer could be a lot shorter but then Emannuels answer covered it already. Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 13:33
  • think I said it much better tho
    – vectory
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 18:56
  • This post is very confusing. It remains unclear what you want to say. Hence I gave -1 here.
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 21:46

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