Dative case- really hard! Tips?

Hi, I am having a tough time learning the dative cases. Not only which one goes with which noun, but just- learning when they're appropriate. I feel like I have to learn more about English before I learn German -- I just cannot find a way to help me know when to use dative or akkusative (accusative) cases. Grammar is hard! Any tips? -Katie

October 12, 2015


Typically, you use the dative case whenever someone or something is receiving the object of an action, for example:

  • I give him the book (Ich gebe ihm das Buch) the italic word is in the dative

Both articles and personal pronouns go under change when in the dative case. Here are a couple of charts that show the difference between dative and the other cases:

However, prepositions can also make words take the dative case The prepositions aus, außer, bei, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von, & zu always take the dative, for example:

  • Sie wollten mit mir spielen (They wanted to play with me)
  • Ich esse alles außer dem Apfel (I eat everything except the apple)

There are some prepositions that can take the dative or accusative case, which depends on whether or not the object is moving from place to place. Movement from one place to another takes the accusative, whereas no movement or movement within a place takes the dative.

For example:

  • No Movement: Ich bin in einem Haus (I am in a house; Dative)

  • Movement within a place: Ich laufe in einem Haus (I am running in a house; Dative)

  • Movement from one place to another: Ich laufe in ein Haus (I am running into a house; Accusative)

These are the prepositions that take either case:

an, auf, entlang, hinter, in, neben, über, unter, vor, & zwischen.

Prepositions can also be contracted with articles, which can make it easier to know whether or not the preposition is taking the dative:

Hope this helps a bit

October 12, 2015

Dativ/Akkusativ is difficult, especially for those that come from English-language backgrounds. Patrick did a wonderful job explaining the rules, but it's also important to remember this very important fact:

It will take years living in country before you will consistently be able to use the correct definite/indefinite article in fast conversation when it comes to case. Not only do you always have to know the direct and indirect objects of the sentence (a tall order), you also must know the gender of each noun in the sentence (an even taller order). Much of this can only be done by practice and rote memorization.

I've lived in Germany for awhile now, and while as a C1-C2 speaker I definitely know the rules behind the grammar, actually using it with 100% accuracy in conversation remains very difficult.

What I'm trying to say is, don't get too bogged down with the specifics (because it definitely is complicated) and try to always in engage in conversation even when you know you might mess the cases and grammar up. Not saying it's not important to learn it, but don't let it hold you back when it comes to communicating in German. Germans in general will give considerable leeway when it comes to gender/case mistakes as long as the mistake isn't too terrible (ich liebe DIR instead of ich liebe DICH) as they know it is a very difficult concept to grasp for German-as-a-second-language people. As a matter of fact some of the even more complicated grammar concepts (Konjunktiv I or Passive Voice in the future/past) are frequently messed up by German natives.

Best of luck with everything :) German grammar is tough but with time it'll get a little easier!

October 12, 2015

Other people have pretty well covered it, but I found extremely helpful.

October 13, 2015

Madrigal's Magic Key to German (Learning German) - Scribd

Starting page 314, are lessons on the dative. You can buy this book, but it is expensive . Scribd is a subscription service but some books such as this one are free.

October 13, 2015

You are a gem Mephili!

January 23, 2019

PatrickOsa pretty much covered it all! :)

But my tip is to learn the dative (and accusative) prepositions by heart.

Also, if there's only a subject and one object in the sentence, it is likely to be a direct object -accusative- (unless there's also a dative preposition or a dative verb, in which case it becomes dative).

October 12, 2015

i hope you learn it soon patrickOsa got it right. but my tip is to just memorize them and make up rhyming tricks to help you remember them

October 12, 2015

Learning German helps you to understand English grammar. There are some key word that tell you it is dative like - mit (with) geben (give) - auf (on). So you are better to learn the German first.

October 12, 2015

I have been struggling with this too!! It does seem really confusing, but I think I finally have it sitting right in my head. Accusative is the second object in the sentence and the Dative is 'being given' the sentences second object/Accusative. (And I have learnt SOOOO much about English from learning German. Most of it is stuff I vaguely recall going over at school, like what verbs and adjectives are (doing words and describing words))

Make up some silly phrases that help you remember. I personified the cases as stick figures with silly hats with my silly phrases in their speech boxes. It seems to be helping!

Once you can remember what the cases are, you can sort out how they affect parts of sentences. Write down the Definite and Indefinite article tables and compare them (the dative, genitive and the masculine accusative cases change, but the the new endings of 'ein' are the same as the last two letters of the corresponding Definite Article). But mostly, just practice. Try translating lots of simple sentences which have different cases and different gendered nouns. Then use a translating tool to see if you got it right :D

October 14, 2015

It's EZ. It might be because I'm Croatian though.

This link should explain it pretty clearly, it's not about cramming which verb uses which case (for the most part) but rather learning the logical reasoning behind why is something used, what grammatical role a word takes, e.g. is it a direct object, an indirect object or a subject.

October 15, 2015
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