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dative and genative

I am very confused about dative and genative could someone explain and give an example of each. I understand nomative and accusative but am confused about the rest Thanks so much Jo Ann

July 27, 2017



There are a number of different situations where you use dative or genitive.

A verb sometimes requires dative. For example, "I'm giving the ball to the man." would be "Ich gebe den Ball dem Mann" The person you give something to is in dative, and the thing you are giving is accusative. Another example is helfen. The person you are helping is dative, so "I'm helping you" is "Ich helfe dir". (note that a direct object can be dative) Also, some reflexive verbs are dative instead of accusative.

There are certain prepositions, such as "zu" or "mit" that are always dative. Other prepositions can be either accusative or dative but the case changes the meaning of the sentence. For example, "auf dem Tisch" means that whatever is on the table is stationary. "auf den Tisch" indicates movement, like "onto the table".

Genitive definite articles are often used to translate "of the". So you could say "the bank of the river" as "das Ufer des Flusses". There are also some prepositions that can or must use genitive. For example, "trotz des Wetters" means "despite the weather". Some verbs must take genitive objects.


The indirect object comes before the direct object if there are no pronouns in the sentence. Ich gebe dem Mann den Ball would be the correct form of the sentence.


Have a look at these two excellent articles:


The author explains, that it is difficult for non native german speakers, to ask the correct questions, so that the normal explanations are often not easy to understand and not very helpful.

So he tries to explain it in an other way. I hope these explanations may help you a bit.


From http://german.speak7.com/german_cases.htm

German Dative

"Now things will get serious because the dative case is very important in German, and it also changes in all the 3 genders + the plural (masculine, feminine, neuter and plural). But first let’s learn what the Dative means. The Dative in German is just like the indirect object in English, or in other words, it’s like the receiver of the direct object. So for example: I give the book to him, “I” is the subject of the sentence, “the book” is the direct object, and “him” is the receiver, therefore also called the indirect object, in which we’re interested when it comes to the dative case."

"Usually the equivalent of the dative case in English would include “to”, like our example above, I give the book to him, I send it to him, I show it to him… but in German that “to” is usually included in the expression used, for example “to him = ihm” “to the = dem” …so it’s not that complicated after all."

"Dem, der, dem, den (they all means to the) Einem, Einer, Einem (they all mean to a, to an) mir, dir, ihm, ihr, uns, euch, ihnen. (to me, to you, to him, to her...) Weißen, weißen, weißen, weißen (all these forms mean white)

The Genitive

"Note that nouns in the masculine and neuter take an “s” at the end, as in our example: The book of my teacher = das Buch meines Lehrers. Feminine and plural nouns don’t take any “s” at the end."

Edited to remove part of my incorrect genitive explanation.


The Genitive The genitive is the possessive. His, hers, theirs, mine, yours, theirs,

This is not true. The genitive is the genitive and possessive pronouns are possessive pronouns. His father walked home. Sein Vater ging nach Hause. This is not a genitive, the possessive pronoun is in nominative.

Possessives can have different cases and the genitive is not always possessive.

's and of construction in english are basically the same as the german Genitiv. As example of what I mean: The neighbour's dog ate the pizza. The dog of the neighbour ate the pizza. Der Hund des Nachbarn aß die Pizza.


Also, it may be useful to distinguish between possessive adjectives (or possessive determiners) on the one hand and possessive pronouns on the other.

Both were called "possessive pronouns" when I was growing up, but having separate names allows us to distinguish between words such as "my, your, her" and "mine, yours, hers" in English, and understand why mein Auto ist gelb has no ending but meins ist gelb has an -s.


Well, theres still a thing like Possessive adjectives, but they are nearly extinct. What you described is what I consider "nicht attributiv" and "attributiv". Also "nicht attributive" possessive nouns already have 2 declinations depending if they come with or without an article.

Mein Haus ist größer als dein Haus. Twice "attributiv".

Meins ist größer als deins. Twice "nicht attributiv" and without article.

Das meine ist größer als das deine. Twice "nicht attributiv" and with article (these are also already rare constructions, but theres a still a good chance that you will encounter them soonr or later).

Now theres another form, and thats usually considered as something like a Possessivadjektiv, because it looks like nominalized Adjektiv. They are basically vanished, but very old fashioned texts can have them.

Das meinige ist größer als das deinige. They also come with article but they end on -ig and get inflected like adjectives. (Nearly) nonexistant in texts from today.

So end of the story, terminology sometimes differs.


In your example "I give the book to him", in English him would NOT be the indirect object - it would be the object of the preposition "to". In order for "him" to be the indirect object, the sentence would need to be "I give him the book".


Thank you so much, your comments have helped me so much.

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