Updated on

The Accusative Case

The accusative case is an inflection used to mark a word as the object of an action or the goal of a motion.

English doesn’t have an accusative case; the object of a verb is indicated by word order, and the goal of a motion by a preposition or adverb:

Harold punches Kumar. (Kumar is the object of the action)
Kumar punches Harold. (Harold is the object of the action)
Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. (White Castle is the goal of the motion)

Esperanto, which has a freer word order, indicates the object of an action with -n:

Haroldo frapas Kumaron. Harold punches Kumar.
Kumaron frapas Haroldo. Harold punches Kumar.
Kumaro frapas Haroldon. Kumar punches Harold.
Haroldon frapas Kumaro. Kumar punches Harold.
Mi ne scias (tiun), kiu frapas Haroldon. I don’t know who hits Harold.
Mi ne scias (tiun), kiun frapas Haroldo. I don’t know whom Harold hits.

This is often seen in exclamations, where a Mi deziras al vi or Mi donas al vi is elided:

Saluton! Hello!
Dankon! Thanks!
Feliĉan Festivon! Merry Festivus!

The accusative ending is not used with quotations, titles of books, names of games, etc.:

Li diris, “Ĉiuj la venenoj kiuj kaŝas sin en la koto elkoviĝu.” He said, “Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.”
Ŝi diras, ke ŝi hatis Kvindek Helecoj de Grizo, tamen ŝi legis la tutan trilogion. She says she hated Fifty Shades of Grey, yet she read the whole trilogy.
Ni ludas “La soleca kamionisto trovas mortintinon ĉe la stratflanko.” We’re playing “The Lonely Trucker Finds a Dead Girl by the Side of the Road.”

To indicate the goal of a motion, Esperanto will either use al (“to”), -n, or a preposition or adverb of place in conjunction with -n:

Haroldo kaj Kumaro iras al Blanka-Kastelo. Harold and Kumar go to White Castle.
Haroldo kaj Kumaro iras Blanka-Kastelon. Harold and Kumar go to White Castle.
Haroldo kaj Kumaro estas en iu Blanka-Kastelo. Harold and Kumar are in a White Castle.
Haroldo kaj Kumaro iras en iun Blanka-Kastelon. Harold and Kumar go into a White Castle.
Haroldo kaj Kumaro estas ĉi tie. Harold and Kumar are here.
Haroldo kaj Kumaro venas ĉi tien. Harold and Kumar are coming here.

Finally, the Esperanto accusative is also used in expressions of time, measure, and value — or as a substitute for theoretically any preposition.

Of course, actual prepositions can be used instead, but since which preposition to use in some situations varies from language to language, -n is often used as a convenient alternative:

Mi ankaŭ bezonos ke vi daŭrigu antaŭen kaj venu ankaŭ dimanĉon. I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too.
Memoru, memoru, la kvinan de novembro Remember, remember, the fifth of November
Tio kostas 600 dolarojn. That costs 600 dollars.
virino aĝa 110 jarojn a woman 110 years old
rilate vian proponon in connection with your proposal

One must be careful, however, not to use the accusative as a replacement for a preposition where it can create confusion with another use of the accusative:

Haroldo kaj Kumaro iris en iun Blanka-Kastelon je la kvina de novembro.

(ne iris en iun Blanka-Kastelon la kvinan de novembro)
Harold and Kumar went into a White Castle on the fifth of November.