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To preposition for giving somebody something

In german, is there a preposition that is similar to 'to' in English, as in "I am giving it to him"? Or do we just give the associated pronoun in the dative case?

February 8, 2018



I think with the verb "geben", the movement is expressed through the dative case. I can't think of any preposition that could be used here.

Ich gebe ihm das Buch.
Ich gebe meinem Freund das Buch.


Recall that in English:

WHAT one gives is a Direct Object. (Akkusativ) Ich gebe ----- ein Buch

TO WHOM one gives something is an Indirect Object. (Dativ) Ich gebe dem Lehrer ein Buch Ich gebe ihm ein Buch.

Ich gebe meiner Schwester ein Buch. Ich gebe ihr ein Buch.

Generally, verbs of interaction between people (verbs of "giving and taking" and "telling and conveying information") need an indirect object. Otherwise, it's not clear WHAT is received by WHOM.

Unlike German, English does not distinguish between direct and indirect object pronouns with different "forms" of the pronoun. I see HIM and I give HIM ....... both contain the "same" apparent pronoun, however 'him' is a direct object in the first instance and an indirect object in the second. Studying German is likely to increase your understanding of English grammar!

Geben + Dativ is also used when speaking about giving something to an animal.

Ich gebe dem Hund das Spielzeug. (male dog) Ich gebe ihm das Spielzeug.

Ich gebe der Hündin das Spielzeug. (female dog) Ich gebe ihr das Spielzeug.

The dative preposition "zu" means "to." However it is not used with "geben" because "to" is understood . Writing "Ich gebe zu ihm ein Buch" is a bit like saying "I'm giving TO TO him a book."

The most common dative prepositions are: aus, ausser, bei, mit, nach, seit, von, zu.

Hope this is helpful.

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