I think it is 'on to the table', so it is accusative as motion is involved. I believe that 'Der Teller ist auf dem Tisch' would use the dative as the plate is not moving.
Yes, it is true and Vivski has explained it righlty, in my opinion. I have learned recently that German language uses "auf dem" for statics verbs (like "Der Teller ist auf dem Tisch") but "auf den" for moving verbs like "Stellen Sie den Teller auf den Tisch"). This is the reason of using "den" instead of "dem".
Yes, they are called "two-way" prepositions, because they take either the dative or the accusative depending on the situation. An, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor, and zwischen are also two-way prepositions.
A good way to rememer - the word "wohin" goes with accusative, and "wo" goes with dative.
'He is placing the plate on the table' should also be accepted. I have reported it.
Is it better to say "Er setzt/liegt den Teller" rather than "Er stellt den Teller"? I just read an article points out that "stellen" means "put something stand(vertically)", and "liegen" is "lay(put something horizontally)". Is it valid? Or how natives use these verbs? Thanks!
Why are both the plate and the table in the akkusativ? Wouldn't this open the possibility for confusion if the word order is changed for emphasis? If the sentence was "Er stellt den Tisch auf den Teller" it would mean "He puts the table on the plate", which is a waste of a good plate but a perfectly acceptable sentence, I believe.
You have to keep the prepositional phrase all together, even if you're changing the word order around. So in the original sentence "auf den Tisch" can't be split apart in any way. Your sentence can only be interpreted as "He puts the table on the plate" and not "He puts the plate on the table."
So we have "den Teller." It's the direct object of "stellt," so we put it in the accusative. "Den Tisch" is the object of the preposition "auf." "Auf" is a two-way preposition, taking either accusative or dative. Since putting the plate on the table implies motion (i.e., from not on the table to on the table), we use the accusative.
It looks like you're thinking of an indirect object, which would, indeed, be in the dative. But an indirect object needs to translate to something like "to the [object]" or "for the [object]," which this doesn't. Indirect objects will also rarely be inanimate objects like a table. Yes, the table is, in a sense, "receiving" the plate, but, grammatically, "Tisch" is not an indirect object but the object of the preposition "auf."
Save the dative for dative prepositions (and two-way, when appropriate) and for when something is done to or for a person (or, occasionally, an animal).
Why is it sometimes hard to distinguish "ihr" from "er" - particularly in this case they both use -t.