This is difficult to answer since it depends on what you describe with "it", what article the noun you describe with "it" has, and what the context is.
For objects/actions I'd say: "Was magst du daran?" eg:
- "Ich mag den Tisch. - Was magst du daran?" (I like the table. What do you like about it?)
- "Ich mag Lesen. - Was magst du daran?" (I like reading. -What do you like about it?)
Generally you can use ihm/ihr for objects/actions like this too, but usually it is more often used for people/animals/living things. It sounds a bit weird/unnatural if you use "ihm" but refer to a table.
Prepositions are in most cases not translated directly, but used to modify or specify the meaning of another word. You just have to learn it. There is no regularity or tendency that could help you. It is like that with every language I know.
to get ON the bus = IN den Bus einsteigen
to go TO school = IN die Schule gehen
to laugh AT sb = jmd AUSlachen
to smile AT sb = jmd ANlachen
It is in dative. The dative case of 'it' (and of 'him' as well) is 'ihm', the dative case of 'her' is 'ihr', so "What do you like about it?" translates as "Was magst du an ihm?". See the second green table on this page: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/german/hmr/grammatik/Basic_Chart.html
Thanks - let me clarify, because even I couldn't figure out what I was asking above.
My question goes to the translation, too. "Was magst du an ihr?" translates as "What do you like about her?" but I'm also wondering, couldn't it be translated as "what do you think about IT?" if the 'it' that is being referred to is a feminine noun?
E.g., "Ich habe eine neue Katze; was magst du an ihr?" Is 'ihr' correct here? Or should it be 'ihm' because a cat can also be referred to as 'es'?
Well, I am not a native German speaker, so I cannot say for sure, but my understanding it that if you are talking about a feminine object, you use the feminine pronouns. I read once in a German Textbook that if you ask "Wie ist der Abend?" the answer is, "Er ist gut.", and I assume that the same thing happens here.
Where the doubt comes in is in regard to that cat; what happens if the cat is a male? Taking "Katze" as the feminine noun it is, you can refer to any and all cats generally with the feminine articles, adjectives, and pronouns, but I would imagine that if you were talking about a particular cat which you knew to be a male, you could use the masculine pronouns . . . I think? I know I would want to translate your sentence "what do you think about him/her" just because that is how you talk about cats whose gender you know in English.
The thing I wonder, though, is whether you might actually not use "ihm" or "ihr" at all in some cases, instead using "dies", "das", "jene" or nothing at all - perhaps especially with an inanimate object. Maybe something like this (no guarantees on the correctness of the following):
"Ich habe einen neuen Messer. Was meinst du?" "Er gefällt mir." "Was magst du an ihm?" "Seine Schneide ist sehr gut."
(In case comparing to Spanish helps, the following is correct Spanish: "Tengo un nuevo cuchillo. ¿Qué opinas?" "Me gusta." "¿Qué te gusta de él?" "Su arista es muy buena.")
So, to sum up my ramblings . . . as far as I know, "what do you like about it?" is a perfectly reasonable translation, but without the context there to tell you you're dealing with an inanimate object, I think "what do you think about her?" is probably the better translation.
But previously I found a sentence that use the preposition 'an' that triggers accusative yet it doesn't imply any motion at all. For example like the sentence "I think about her" would be "ich denke an sie". As you can see it's not a motion but it is still using accusative case. Can you explain this please?
Haha thanks... Was a while ago when asked this... But basically different verbs go with different propositions... Like about is with the proposition an.... But something like write is with über... Which is always accusative when means about... It is just things you learn along the way
As a native English speaker, that is correct because "to see something in someone" is an idiomatic expression meaning "to like (about someone)"...not physically seeing something. It usually implies that you don't understand why someone likes someone...perhaps they "see" something that you don't. We often say "I don't know what he sees in her." (I don't know why she likes him.)
In German there is a rule that the main verb must always come second. (When I say "main" verb, I mean that if you have more than one verb or part of a verb, e.g. "haben gegessen" [have eaten], only the "haben" comes second, and the "gegessen" goes at the end of the sentence.) The only exception is in dependent clauses (starting with words like "because" etc.) in which case all the verb come at the end.
For more information, see: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~german/Grammatik/WordOrder/WordOrder.html
Doesn’t it mean “about”?
Define "mean" :)
If you mean "has exactly the same range of meanings as, and is always interchangeable with", then no.
Prepositions rarely translate 1:1 between languages.
Some uses of "about" translate to über and some uses of über translate to "about", but they are not completely identical and interchangeable.
Instead of saying "an ihr" could you say "uber ihr"?
- uber is not a German word. (If you can't make an ü, write ue: ueber.)
- über ihr means "above her". When über means "about, concerning", we use the accusative case.
- But we don't etwas über jemanden mögen -- it's simply not the right preposition for this context.
There are no strict rules for prepositions, you just have to remember which verbs take which prepositions and what their meanings in these specific contexts are. The same goes for English - a book or a film can be "about" something, to like something "about" someone is not very logical (in my opinion it should be "in"), yet correct.
You will be confused about prepositions in every language because their use is always language specific. I'm also confused as to why one should say "I have been TO Italy" and not "in Italy". It doesn't make much sense since you're always IN a particular country. Prepositions live their own life in the native speakers' minds.