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Ænglisc / Old English - Lesson IX - Grammar & Grammatical Cases V (The Dative Case)


Ƿesaþ ġē hāl!

If you missed the previous lesson (The Genitive Case), click here -

Now, this next case may be a bit confusing...

The Dative Case (Dat) is a case in that a word is the indirect object - frequently concerned with sharing (thus also being known as the giving case). However, it is also the case in which the objects of most prepositions (of, with, by, in) take.

Example I:

(ModE) Who gave him rings.

(OE) þe him hringas ġēaf

What is in the Dative? him, because rings are the direct object (in the ACC plural - as it is ring(s) rather than a singular ring) , and thus he is the one receiving the rings.

Example II:

(ModE) Report to your people a much more disagreeable message

(OE) Seġe þinum lēodum miccle lāþre spell

What is in the Dative? Let's break this down - Seġe is the singular imperative [we will go over moods in another lesson] - which is the mood of commanding or ordering - meaning report.

miccle lāþre spell = much disagreeable message. Now, 'miccle lāþre' are adverbs which connect to 'spell' (message), which is the direct object (and thus in the ACC) and they must correspond (be in the same case).

þinum lēodum = your people (in terms of nation / kingdom) --> in this case meaning 'to your people' as it is the indirect object.

One more example:

Example III:

(ModE) He said to me

(OE) Hē cƿæþ tō mē

What is in the dative here? Mē, because Hē is the direct object (in the ACC), and Mē is being said to.

Summary: The Dat case is used for many reasons (see video for additional ways to use it), such as indirect objects of the sentences, and the objects of prepositions (of, with, by, in ) [-- excluding the use of prepositions that show action 'by means of...' (e.g with an arrow, Harold fell) - as that is instrumental case, which we will cover next lesson]

That is all for this lesson! For more information on the Dat Case, click here -

If this has inspired you/ started you to think that OE may be for you, check out Leornende Eald Englisc, here

If you haven't already, please endorse / upvote the Course suggestion page for Old English below to increase the chance of a Duolingo course:

Keep updated by bookmarking the lesson list! -

Iċ þancie ēow!

September 4, 2016



I just want to say that while I'm not studying Old English right now, I've been reading these threads avidly because it's such a help when it comes to understanding grammatical concepts that are critically important in other languages but do not exist anymore in modern English (or exist in a very dilute form). I'm finally getting my head around the finer points of what all of these cases and moods actually are and how they function, thanks to your efforts in posting these. I know you're not the one who makes the videos, but I never would have found the videos without your Duolingo threads, so thank you for taking the time to post these here.


Thank you, good sir, as it is always appreciated! I'm sure that OE grammar is nothing compared to Irish grammar, however :)

I hope that in the future that you do choose to study OE, or at least continue to keep track of these threads :)


I am as guilty as anyone of moaning that Irish is hard, but I no longer think that's true - word order isn't difficult at all if you have any familiarity with Hiberno-English (any of the English dialects that Irish people speak)... a lot of Irish-English has retained its Irish phrasing, so if you can "think in Irish-English" - "Have you seen the jacket on him," as opposed to "Have you seen the jacket he's wearing" etc, it's pretty easy to remember the general structure, prepositions, etc.

The hard bit is that the grammar drastically affects what happens at the front of words, which alters not only their spelling, but their pronunciation... so even if you don't intend to read/write Irish, in order to speak it or listen to it, you have to understand when the genitive applies, when the dative applies, etc, and how those cases change the initial phonemes of each word.

And that part is difficult to get used to when dealing with concepts that just aren't there in modern English anymore... so there are times when I have to back up and read about general grammar concepts in order to understand what's happening in an Irish sentence, because often there's no "this Irish thing functions like that English thing" parallel... but those parallels are still there in Old English, so it's really helpful to be able to "trace the DNA," so to speak.

Old English is one of those languages I've always meant to have a poke at, so I probably will delve into it one of these days. I have a thing for old manuscripts, so it'd be nice to be able to read them, or at least bits of them, on my own.

There's a current project on zooniverse where they're crowdsourcing transcription and translation of Middle English documents/letters/books in order to better understand Shakespeare's lesser documented contemporaries... I worked on it just long enough to decide that it was really cool to have unrestricted access to thousands of documents that have never been looked at before, and then realised I was completely ill-equipped for the task of transcribing even Middle English... so Old English is probably a ways off. One day, though!


That you! If you are interested, look at the lesson list for more :)


Have done! :) It seems much more difficult than Modern English. Have you applied to contribute for an Old English course? I have started making my own Amharic lessons in the discussions part of the site and I've done 2 lessons so far. Hopefully, both Old English and Amharic can soon enter the incubator! :)


I am not nearly fluent enough in OE (I only know the basics that I am teaching, and all that I don't know I direct to LEE, who may help contribute for an OE course :)


Interesting as always! Keep up the great work! ^-^


No problem, good sir. XD

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