The accusative case exists (or existed once) in all the Indo-European languages (including Latin, Sanskrit, Greek, German, Polish, Russian), in the Finno-Ugric languages, and in Semitic languages (such as Arabic). It should be noted that Balto-Finnic languages such as Finnish and Estonian have two cases to mark objects, the accusative and the partitive case. In morphosyntactic alignment terms, both perform the accusative function, but the accusative object is telic, while the partitive is not.
Modern English, which almost entirely lacks declension in its nouns, still has an explicitly marked accusative case in a few pronouns as a remnant of Old English, an earlier declined form of the language. "Whom" is the accusative case of "who"; "him" is the accusative case of "he"; and "her" is the accusative case of "she". These words also serve as the dative case pronouns in English and could arguably be classified in the oblique case instead. Most modern English grammarians feel that due to the lack of declension except in a few pronouns, where accusative and dative have been merged, that making case distinctions in English is no longer relevant, and frequently employ the term "objective case" instead (see Declension in English).
In a declined language, the morphology of the article or noun changes in some way according to the grammatical role played by the noun in a given sentence. For example, in German, one possible translation of "the car" is der Wagen. This is the form in nominative case, used for the subject of a sentence. If this article/noun pair is used as the object of a verb, it (usually) changes to the accusative case, which entails an article shift in German Ich sehe den Wagen. In German, masculine nouns change their definite article from der to den in accusative case.
For the accusative endings, see Latin declensions.
|Definite article (the)||den||die||das||die|
|Indefinite article (a/an)||einen||eine||ein||-|
For example, "Hund" (dog) is a masculine (der) word, so the article changes when used in the accusative case:
Some German pronouns also change in the accusative case.
The accusative case is also used after particular German prepositions. These include bis, durch, für, gegen, ohne, um, after which the accusative case is always used, and an, auf, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor, zwischen which can govern either the accusative or the dative. The latter prepositions take the accusative when motion is specified (being done into/onto the space), but take the dative when location is specified (being done in/on that space). These prepositions are also used in conjunction with certain verbs, in which case it is the verb in question which governs whether the accusative or dative should be used.
Adjective endings also change in the accusative case. There is also another factor that determines the endings of adjectives and that is whether the adjective is being used after a definite article (the), after an indefinite article (a/an) or without any article before the adjective (many green apples).
In German, the accusative case is also used for some adverbial expressions, mostly temporal ones, as in "Diesen Abend bleibe ich daheim" (This evening I'm staying at home), where "diesen Abend" is marked as accusative, while not being a direct object.
The major new Finnish grammar, Iso suomen kielioppi, breaks with the traditional classification to limit the accusative case to the special case of the personal pronouns and kuka/ken. The new grammar considers other total objects as being in the nominative or genitive.
Accusative in Akkadian
Accusative in Arabic
The accusative case is called in Arabic النصب an-naṣb, and it has many other uses in addition to marking the object of a verb.