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Hi, everybody! Stefania here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Greek questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is “When should you use the accusative case?”
In grammar, the accusative case is used in the following ways.
First, to complete the meaning of a verb either as a direct object, which is the most common use, less commonly as an indirect object, or as an adverbial determiner.
Second, the accusative case can be used to complete the meaning of a noun or an adjective as a nominal determiner.
And third, some prepositions may be followed by a word in accusative.
Let's go into more detail. First, let's see the accusative case completing the meaning of a verb as an object.
When an object, direct or indirect, is in the accusative case, it usually answers the question "Whom?" (Ποιον / Ποια(ν) / Ποιο; - Pion / Pian / Pio?) or "What" (Τι;) when we refer to the action of the verb. For example,
Έχω έναν μαρκαδόρο. → Τι έχω; → Έναν μαρκαδόρο.
(Ého énan markadóro. → Ti ého? → Énan markadóro.)
"I have a marker." → What do I have? → A marker.
Here, the accusative έναν μαρκαδόρο is the direct object.
Ακούω τη δασκάλα. → Ποιαν ακούω; → Τη δασκάλα.
(Akúo ti daskála. → Pian akúo? → Ti daskála.)
"I listen to the teacher." → Whom do I listen to? → The teacher.
The accusative τη δασκάλα (ti daskála) is the direct object.
Here are some more sample sentences.
Συμπληρώστε τη φόρμα, παρακαλώ. (Simbliróste ti fórma, parakaló.)
"Fill in the form, please."
Έβαψα όλους τους τοίχους. (Évapsa ólus tus tíhus.)
"I painted all the walls."
Next, an accusative can define a verb in an adverbial sense, indicating things such as time, location, duration, manner, amount, reason, and purpose. For example, Το μωρό κοιμάται την ημέρα (To moró kimáte tin iméra. "The baby sleeps during the day"). Here the accusative την ημέρα (tin iméra) expresses time answering the question of "When?"
Following that, the accusative case can be a nominal determiner completing the meaning of a noun or an adjective.
Although rare, this happens when a noun in the accusative case defines a different noun or an adjective. The noun in the accusative then might denote the following things.
1. Reference
Το δωμάτιο είχε τέσσερα μέτρα μήκος. (To domátio íhe tésera métra míkos.)
"The room was four meters long.” (in reference to the length)
This happens usually with words such as μάκρος / μήκος (mákros / míkos, "length"), πλάτος (plátos, "width"), βάθος (váthos, "depth"), and ύψος (ípsos, "height").
2. Measurement
Πήδηξε έναν τοίχο δύο μέτρα. (Pídixe énan tího dío métra.)
"He jumped a two-meter wall."
3. Content
Έπεσε σ' έναν λάκκο γεμάτο λάσπες. (Épese s' énan láki yemáto láspes.)
"He fell in a puddle full of mud."
This happens usually with the adjectives γεμάτος (yemátos, "full of") and όλος (ólos, also meaning "full of").
4. To whom or what an action goes, called objective accusative.
Προσοχή τα χέρια σας! (Prosohí ta héria sas!)
"Mind your hands!" This accusative, in this case τα χέρια (ta héria), answers to "What?" So, "Mind what?" → Your hands.
This happens usually with nouns coming from verbs that express a command, a wish, or exhortation.
Here are some more sample sentences.
Η πισίνα εδώ έχει δύο μέτρα βάθος. (I pisína edó éhi dío métra váthos.)
"The pool here is two meters deep."
Αγόρασα ένα σακί πατάτες. (Agórasa éna sakí patátes.)
"I bought a bag of potatoes."
Finally, we use the accusative case after certain prepositions.
The most common ones are: από (apó, "from"), με (me, "with"), σε (se, "to/in/on/at"), για (ya, "for"), ανά (aná, "per"), παρά (pará, "despite"), ίσαμε (ísame, "up to"), πριν (prin, "before"), σαν (san, "as/like"), ως/μέχρι (os/méhri, "until"), χωρίς/δίχως (horís/díhos, "without"), προς (pros, "towards/to"), μετά (metá, "after"), and κατά (katá, "during"). Note that σε (se) always gets contracted in front of articles. For example, σε (se) + τον (ton) → becomes στον (ston, "to/in/on/at the").
Prepositional phrases define a verb in an adverbial sense to indicate things such as location, time, reason, purpose, result, reference, condition, opposition, origin, amount, means, manner, escort, property etc. For example, Είμαι στην παραλία (Íme stin paralía. "I'm at the beach"). Here the prepositional phrase with accusative στην παραλία (stin paralía) expresses location. Note that sometimes other words might come between the preposition and the word it defines. For example, Το φόρεμα είναι από το μαγαζί της Σούλας (To fórema íne apó to magazí tis Súlas. "The dress is from Soula's store"). But changing the word order we may get Το φόρεμα είναι από της Σούλας το μαγαζί (To fórema íne apó tis Súlas to magazí.) So don't get confused! The prepositional phrase here is από (apó) + το μαγαζί (to magazí), although της Σούλας (tis Súlas) in genitive comes in between.
Here are some more sample sentences.
Η κόρη μου σπουδάζει στην Αμερική. (I kóri mu spudázi stin Amerikí.)
"My daughter is studying in the US."
Αυτό είναι για εκείνον. (Aftó íne ya ekínon.)
"This is for him."


How was the lesson? Pretty interesting, right?
If you would like to learn more about the accusative case, as well as take a look at some more examples, check out our grammar bank on GreekPod101.com. And if you have any questions, leave me a comment!
Γεια χαρά! (Ya hará!)


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