It is clear to me that some prepositions can take an accusative or dative case according to whether they are used to indicate movement (accusative) or position (dative). However, when these prepositions are used in prepositional verb cases, they are usually accusative, are they not?

However some propositional verbs using these prepositions take the dative, for instance: Leiden um, Leiden unter and teilnehmen an.

So, my questions are: Is my initial conclusion, that usually these prepositions take the accusative, correct? And, if it is, are there a lot of prepositional verbs taking the dative or only a few that can be learnt by heart?

  • 1
    It is not quite clear to me what you mean by prepositions used in prepositional verb cases "usually" being accusative. Do you mean they are accusative except in a few rare cases? This is surely false. Or do you mean they are accusative in the majority of cases? This may be correct (I don't know of any statistics) but it does not help much because there are plenty of cases in which they are not.
    – RHa
    Commented Mar 9 at 17:59
  • Normally with such prepositions I can decide whether to use the accusitive or dative case according to whether they are used to indicate movement or position. With prepositional verbs I cannot use this distinction, so I am looking for an aid to help me. I have noticed that most verb/preposion combinations using these two-way prpositions use the accusative case, but that is just my impression. I am really just asking if this is the case.
    – Steve
    Commented Mar 9 at 18:25
  • 2
    Two-way prepositions use accusative not in the case of movement but when direction is involved. This is a subtle but important difference.
    – RHa
    Commented Mar 9 at 19:16
  • You should be aware that German grammar doesn't use the distinction between phrasal and prepositional verb. You shouldn't apply these terms to German verbs. You either use a verb with a preposition or not. If you do, the preposition rules the case, if not, the verb will.
    – tofro
    Commented Mar 9 at 19:39
  • @tofro You wrote "You either use a verb with a preposition or not. If you do, the preposition rules the case, if not, the verb will." I'm sorry I don't understand what you mean. How does that apply to, for instance, "teilnehmen an"?
    – Steve
    Commented Mar 9 at 20:32

1 Answer 1


Yes, most prepositional objects with dual-way prepositions are in the accusative case.

PONS has a list of the most common ones.

Oh, and by the way, the difference between accusative and dative with dual-way prepositions in adverbials isn't about movement or not. But about direction vs location. Consider:

Der Wegweiser auf dem Marktplatz zeigt auf den Brunnen.

Nothing moves in this example. Yet one auf is with dative, and the other auf is with accusative. Because the latter marks a direction. But you need to be careful about that as well. Consider:

Der Stürmer schießt den Ball in das Tor.

Der Stürmer schießt den Ball am Tor vorbei.

So it's only put in accusative if the thing put in accusative is where the direction points at.

  • By my count the PONS list has 55 accusative and 42 dative, so while "most" are accusative it's still close enough to look it up when in doubt.
    – RDBury
    Commented Mar 9 at 21:43
  • Actually, if you only count Wechselpräpositionen then the ratio is more like 3 to 1, so assume accusative if forced. Except "vor" seems to always take dative in prepositional verbs.
    – RDBury
    Commented Mar 10 at 8:30

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