The German dative case is generally used for the indirect object. The indirect object is often the receiver of the direct object. Take this sentence for example:
- Der Bäcker gibt den Armen kein Brot - The Baker gives no bread to the poor
In that sentence there are two objects, a direct one, 'bread', and the indirect one 'the poor'.
To identify which of both is the indirect object, you could simply ask yourself 'To whom or for whom is the action being done?'. In most cases the indirect object is a person, but sometimes it could be an inanimate object as well.
Endings in the Dative case
Unlike the accusativ case discussed in the last lesson, the dative case not only affects the ending of the words linked to the noun, but it affects the noun itself as well.
|Definite||dem Mann||der Frau||dem Kind||den Tieren|
|Indefinite||einem Mann||einer Frau||einem Kind||- Tieren|
|Negative||keinem Mann||keiner Frau||keinem Kind||keinen Tieren|
|Possessive||meinem Mann||meiner Frau||meinem Kind||meinen Tieren|
Note that in the German dative case, an '-en' or a '-n' is added to the plural of the noun unless if that plural already ends with a '-s' or a '-n'.
All of the personal pronouns change from the nominative case to the dative case as shown in the next table:
|Singular Pronoun||Definition||Plural Pronoun||Definition|
|dir||you - informal||euch||you - informal|
|Ihnen||you - formal||Ihnen||you - formal|
Dative case after certain verbs
The Dative case comes after certain verbs no matter what role the noun/pronoun plays, and even if there is no direct object in the sentence.
|antworten||to answer||gratulieren||to congratulate|
|danken||to thank||helfen||to help|
|drohen||to threaten||nutzen||to be useful|
|fehlen||to be missing||passen||to suit|
|folgen||to follow||schmecken||to taste|
|gehören||to belong to||verzeihen||to forgive|
|glauben||to believe||zuhören||to listen to|
Dative case after certain prepositions
Certain prepositions always take the dative case no matter their position in the sentence, and even if there will be more than one dative noun within the sentence.
|aus||from, out of|
Interrogatives in the Dative Case
In the dative, the interrogative pronoun 'wer' becomes 'wem', and the interrogative 'welcher' is declined according to the noun it's attached to.
Numerous German expressions often use 'es' as their subject. They are called 'impersonal expressions' becuase they don't identify a specific person or object as their subject. Often these expressions require a dative object.
- Es fällt mir ein - It occurs to me
- Es kommt dir vor - It appears to you
- Es scheint ihm - It seems to him
- Es gefällt dem Mann - It appeals to the man
Here are a few example sentences in which the dative nouns/pronouns are pointed out:
- Ich gebe meiner Schwester einen Hut - I'm giving a hat to my sister
- Wir folgen den Kindern - We are following the kids
- Sie kommt aus dem Museum - She is coming from the museum
- Wir fahren mit dem Zug - We're riding the train