1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. When using "to be"...


When using "to be"...

When you use sein (to be) in German, do you have to turn a following noun to accusative. For example, for "The animal is the dog", is it "Das Tier ist ein Hund" or "Das Tier ist einen Hund". Danke!

June 24, 2017



Das Tier ist der/ein Hund is straight up nominative. Nobody doing anything to the dog, it's not the object of any action whatsoever, neither directly nor indirectly. It just is. That's what the nominative was invented for; it's the poster child of a nominative sentence, if you will ;-)

Ich f├╝ttere einen/den Hund is accusative. I am doing something to the dog - feeding it - which turns it into the direct object of my action.

Ich gebe dem/einem Hund den Ball Now the dog is the indirect object - it is being given a ball by me - which requires the dog to be in the dative case.


Thank you! If you don't mind, I see you don't have German in your languages. Is it a native tongue of yours?


I have often been confused by this as "to have" in German uses the accusative even though there is no motion such as in the case of "I have a dog" is "ich habe einen Hund".


The dog very clearly is the direct object here, and this means that you need the accusative.


Verbs like 'sein' and 'werden' describe an equivalence between the subject and the predicate noun. That equivalence extends to case as well. So the predicate noun takes the nominative case (known as predicate nominative) just like the subject.


The animal is the dog.......Das Tier ist der Hund.

The animal is a dog .....Das tier ist ein Hund.

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.