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“Quo Vadis?” and the Accusative

“Where are you going to?”  –  This famous quote, what is it?

  1. The title of a book?
  2. Does it stem from Christian mythology where Saint Peter, fleeing from Rom, met Jesus and asked him “Whither goest thou?”
  3. A linguistic argument for the Akkusativ?
the 4 cases

The 4 cases


To find out, I give you a couple of hours to first read the article about The German Akkusativ then to study the Gospel of John and the Apokryphen. And finally enjoy Henryk Sienkiewic story about Nero, Roman feasts and Petronius, a noble Roman.




Of course I am joking, since this may sound a bit too thorough, but I am sure you’ve done it because now you are finally ready to find out what they all have in common. Here’s a clue: they all use grammar and all grammar consists of Cases.

Do you need 4 Cases? Judge for yourself:-

Imagine this: You are standing by the side of the Arena de Sao Paulo, after the match has finished, Thomas Müller is coming towards you and you ask him “Quo Vadis, Herr Müller” (where are you going to?) He says “Ich gehe in den Umkleideraum” (I am on my way to the changing room). Hurray, he’s given you the information you wanted to know, that is in which direction he is going to. That’s the important bit and without having the Accusative you’d never have found out! The accusative case indicates movement towards a place ‘where to’. So I give you 3 guesses which part of the sentence is in the Accusative.

4. Accusative

4. Accusative

Actually the Accusative aspect is well hidden in this sentence when translated into English but the German version makes the Accusative obvious by changing the masculine article of “der” (Umkleideraum) to “den” (article = the ‘the’ word before a noun). In English there is only one ‘the’ article. In German you have normally 3 different articles der (masculine), die (feminine), das (neuter).

So how what is ‘den’?

Is it a fourth article? Yes, when indicating direction of movement and dedicated to masculine nouns only, like ‘der Umkleideraum’. If you can ask “Whither goest thou” and if the place is a masculine type of place, like the changing rooms, then ‘der’ changes to ‘den’.

Simple, innit?

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