Den Apfel and der Apfel
Den Apfel and der Apfel ?? What is the difference ?? Please explain !!!<pre>
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But what is accusative and nominative ???
I don't know if it makes much sense for non-native speakers but:
when you can ask:
Wer oder Was ist rot? - Der Apfel is rot (Nominative)
Wen oder Was esse ich? - Ich esse den Apfel (Accusative)
For native speakers it would sound very wrong using the wrong question (that's how I learned it in elementary school) so it becomes clearer, but I don't know if it works the same for people learning German.
The same you can do for the dative case, like:
Wem gehört das Haus? - es gehört unserem Nachbarn. (Dative)
Der Apfel ist rot, das ist der Apfel: nominative.
Ich esse den Apfel: accusative :)
In German, one needs to know how a noun is functioning in a sentence in order to select the appropriate form of the determiner/article needed in front of it. Is the noun the Subject? Direct object? Indirect Object? Does it indicate possession, i.e., the father's coat? In addition, a whole host of prepositions require that a particular determiner be used, while other prepositions will switch cases depending on which verb is used. So, 'der' can change to den, dem, or des when used with masculine nouns. Similarly, 'ein' can change to einen, einem, or eines with masculine nouns. Determiners/articles used with feminine or neuter nouns also change their form depending upon how the noun functions in a sentence.
To add to Frank's explanation, when a noun is the subject of a sentence it is in the Nominative Case; when it is the direct object it is in the Accusative Case; when it is the indirect object it is in the Dative Case; and when it is a possessive form it is in the Genitive Case. If you're not familiar with those terms, study the notes that come with each section. And you can always search the internet for further help.