What is dative case, they only told us nominative and accusative

August 27, 2012


Dative case is used for what is called an indirect object in English, i.e., when something is done for or to someone. For example, in English, you could say "I gave her the book". In German, that would be: "Ich gab ihr das Buch." or "Ich gab dem Kind ein Buch." The direct object (the book) takes accusative, but the indirect object uses the dative case. There are also certain prepositions, that always take the dative case, and some that can take either dative or accusative, depending on whether there is motion or not-- accusative is used for motion, and dative is used when there is no motion. For example: Ich gehe in das Haus (accusative) and Ich bin in dem Haus. (dative)

Watch out: there's also a genitive case.

By the way, there is one more case in German: the genitive case. It is used to show possession. For example: Ich bin der Sohn meines Vaters. "meines Vaters" is genitive. You could translate as "I am the son of my father." or "I am my father's son."

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