"Who do you thank?"
Translation:Wem dankst du?
While "wem" can translate to either "who" or "whom" in English, the example English sentence calls for "whom, as it is in the form of a direct object., "we" being the subject and "who(m)" the direct object"Whom" is the dative (because of dankst)"wem" in German. Separate words. As mizinamo says, it's not a declension or gender issue.
"Wem" translates only to "whom". The English sentence given is grammatically incorrect, it should be "Whom do you ask". As a complete statement (indicative mood) one could say "I ask a question OF HIM [dative]. The direct object a question is understood.
It seems "whom" is disappearing from English, though. And I'm aware of the controversy around gendered pronouns in English but still it's helpful to me to remember that the M in hiM corresponds to the M in whoM.
It seems "whom" is disappearing from English, though.
That's right. It is no longer natural for many native English speakers.
In this course, we usually do not use "whom" (though we usually accept it in free-text translations into English for those who do still use it).
Both of those are correct translations -- so it's not appropriate to speak of "the answer" as if there can only be one.
You would ask Wem dankt ihr? if you are speaking to several people at once. You would ask Wem dankst du? if you are speaking to just one person.
Oddly enough, English doesn't make a distinction here, using "you" for both, even though it has kept the distinction between "I / we" and between "he / they". German has kept the distinction between du / ihr as well.
wer is the nominative case, used for the subject.
But "who" here is the object of the verb "thank", so it should be in the dative case in German, as danken takes an object in the dative case.
Also, sie means "they", not "you".
So it would have to be Wem danken Sie?, with capital Sie, if you want to use the polite "you".
Is "wem" neuter?
I don't think gender applies here.
Wer? Wem? Wen? are used to refer to any person, so they're neither specifically masculine nor feminine, but I wouldn't call them neuter, either.
Since no adjectives or articles can agree with them (you can't say "the whom" or "my who" or "a big who" or the like), the grammatical gender of those words is irrelevant anyway.
No -- German, like English, moves WH words such as "who, what, how, why" to the beginning of a question sentence, rather than leaving them in the position where the answer would be.
Even more strongly, in fact, than English -- if you were particularly surprised at something you just heard, you might say (e.g.) "You thank WHOM???!" in English but the German would still be "WEM dankst du???!"
So in this sentence wem is in dative and du isn't?
du is the subject of the verb danken (to thank) and is therefore in the nominative case.
wem is the object of the verb danken and is in the dative case -- because danken requires the dative case for its object.
Cant understand how du even gets to be there as we are learning dative?
Did you think that there is such a thing as "a dative sentence", where everything is dative? Then we wouldn't be able to tell who is thanking whom, or who is giving what to whom.
Cases such as dative apply to parts of a sentence, to identify how that part fits into the sentence as a whole.
Sentences that have one or more parts in the dative case will almost always have at least one part (the subject) in the nominative case, and may have more parts in other cases (e.g. accusative) as well.
How is this different from " who thanks you" ?
Then "who" would be in the nominative case (as the subject of "thank") and "you" would be in the dative case (which is the case that danken requires for its object): Wer dankt dir? instead of Wem dankst du?
The verb will also change to match the new subject.
Why not "Wem dankst dir?" I thought danken was a dative verb?
danken is a dative verb in the sense that it takes an object in the dative case.
The subject is in the nominative case, as usual.
Thus dative wem? but nominative du.
Much as in English we would say "Who(m) does she thank?" and not "Who(m) does her thank?" -- the subject "she" is in the subjective case, not objective "her".
Why "wer dankst du" is wrong ?
danken is a verb that has a subject (in the nominative case, as usual) and an object (in the dative case).
wer and du are both in the nominative case -- but you can't use danken with two subjects and no object.
One of the two has to be in the nominative case and the other in the dative case:
- Wer dankt dir? "Who thanks you?"
- Wem dankst du? "Whom do you thank?"
Note also that the verb has to agree with the subject -- if the subject is du, the ending is -st; if the subject is wer, the ending is -t.
Could this be shortened to 'Wem dankst' if you are talking informally?
German is not a pro-drop language; you need to include the pronoun in your sentence even if the verb form usually identifies it.
or is that a bit too informal?
No; it's simply wrong.
(Even at its most informal, Wem dankste? still has the subject marked: the du ends up as an unstressed -e after the verb ending -st.)
i thought we use dative case with verb "dank"
The object of the verb danken is in the dative case, yes.
That is why we use dative wem? and not nominative wer? when asking for the object.
The subject is in the nominative case, of course, thus du and not dative dir. You are the person doing the thanking, not the person being thanked.
- Wer dankt dir? = Who thanks you?
- Wem dankst du? = Who do you thank?