Two-case prepositions (3)

Two-case prepositions with the accusative

Most prepositions take a particular case, yet there are certain prepositions that take either the dative or the accusative case, depending on the context. These nine prepositions are called two-case prepositions: in, an, unter, über, auf, vor, hinter, neben und zwischen.

These prepositions take the accusative when they are used in response to the question Wohin …?

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null DW

Wohin legen die Männer das Regal?
Sie legen das Regal in den Lastwagen.

Selma and her family are packing their things and putting them into a truck:

Ibrahim stellt die Kiste in den Lastwagen.
Aya stellt den Spiegel an die Wand.
Selma stellt die Tasche unter den Tisch.
Aya hängt die Jacken über den Stuhl.
Selma setzt den Teddy auf die Tasche.
Ibrahim legt den Teppich vor den Schrank.
Selma stellt die Stühle hinter das Regal.
Aya legt die Lampe neben den Schrank.
Ibrahim stellt die Kiste zwischen die Stühle.



Some prepositions are shortened when combined with the article that follows:

in + das = ins
an + das = ans

Sometimes you may hear other shortened versions of prepositions + articles but they are not always used.


Directional verbs

1. The verbs legen, stellen and setzen describe movement within a space and nearly always require ...

●     ... an accusative object:
Aya legt die Bücher in die Kiste.

●     ... an enhanced explanation in response to the question Wohin ...?
Aya legt die Bücher in die Kiste.

This is why these verbs are mostly combined with two-case prepositions that take the accusative.


2. The two-case preposition is also used with the accusative when we are expressing where an object should be laid or placed. In these cases, the verb sollen (without a second verb), kommen or gehören is used.

Die Lampe soll über den Tisch.
Der Teddy kommt auf das Bett.
Das Familienfoto gehört an die Wand.



Grammatical terms in German:

die Wechselpräposition: Some prepositions are two-case prepositions, and can take one of two cases. In response to the question Wo ...?, these prepositions take the dative. In response to the question Wohin ...?, they take the accusative.