I think I can answer the question. Many statements about whether someone is well or feeling good, or sick use the dative. It's just idiomatic. E.g., we have "Mir es ist kalt", "Ihm ist nicht gut", "Wie geht es dir/Ihnen?" and so on. IANANGS (I am not a native German speaker) so YMMV (your mileage may vary).
"It is not well for him" does not work at all in English, so it is closer to our "He is not well." We could say "How goes it? " and respond "It goes well." Yet, this can be more than about health. In German the "it" that they are talking about is the person's health, isn't it? So it is like "His health is not well." in English. The closest I could come to dative type construction in English is "It does not go well for him." Again that can refer to his job, his life, his relationships, as well as his health. That is why the best translation of the German expression "Ihm ist nicht gut." is the English expression "He is not well." Sometimes you just cannot translate word for word and especially not case for case.
The problem with the exact phrase "It is not good for him" is that we have an expression in English "to be good for someone" that means something different from the German here. You might say, if he were eating way too many sweets or spending too much time inside watching television, "It is not good for him." But my understanding of the German sentence is that it means "he is not well," something totally different.
That's because the verb always goes i the second position, right?
So "Mir ist es kalt" would work, I think.
As Rebecca said, Mir ist kalt works but not Mir ist es kalt.
The es here is a dummy subject, only required before the verb if there would otherwise be nothing there. As soon as something else stands before the verb, you have to leave it out.
The answer given ¨He is not good" is really incorrect. A correct translation in idiomatic English might be "He is not doing well" or maybe "he is not well". If an English speaker was asked to translate "He is not good." into German it would come one "Er ist nicht gut" which would have the proper implication of not being a good person.
Yes, "Ihm ist nicht gut." would always mean he is not feeling well. "He is not good." could mean the same thing in the right context, yes. "Er ist nicht gut." would, I think, not ever mean that because a German speaker would assume that you would have used "Ihm" if that's what you had intended to say. I could also be completely off base...
The subject is "it" as in "it is not well for him." (His health is not well.) We don't do this in English, we say "He is not well.", but we have a similar construction for "It is not going well for him." (That does not apply here because it is about more than just his health. I am just showing you that the form exists in English with "it" as the subject and "him" as an object of a preposition that would be Dative in German.)
Despite the fact that some people have claimed the answer to the question: "why is 'ihm' used and not 'er,' in this sentence;" has already been answered, I have not read a clear and concise answer to that question.
However, I may have gleamed that the answer to this question is that it's idiomatic to use "ihm" in this idiomatic context: "Ihm" is used in the dative case when inquiring to some ones health, and "er" is used when inquiring about some ones character.
Where "some people" = me? Perhaps that is because I personally found mjukicpro's answer quite adequate, although perhaps I found it clearer than I ought to have, given that I have also been following the thread "meinem Kind ist schlecht" (https://www.duolingo.com/comment/112787$from_email=commentcomment_id=1946433) Hmm . . . Let me see if I can summarize it in a manner that is more clear to you:
You might be able to translate "he is not well" as "er ist nicht gut," except that "er ist nicht gut" has the wrong meaning, "he is not a good person". Instead, the normal way to talk about health in German is to use a phrase involving "it" going or not going well "with him", namely, "Es geht ihm nicht gut." or, more concisely, "Ihm ist nicht gut."
The person not feeling well (ihm) is the subject of the sentence, right?
No: it's the experiencer, not the subject.
German expresses some feelings (bored, warm, cold, sick to one's stomach, not well) with an impersonal construction like this: mir ist langweilig / warm / kalt / schlecht / nicht gut.
Maybe I can help here. "He is not well" --> "Er ist nicht gut", but in German the implication would be "he" is a "not good" person. To say "He is not well" and imply he is sick you say "Ihm ist nicht gut" which is like a shortened way of saying "Es ist ihm nicht gut" which can better be translated as "It is not good to him". "It" in this case isn't anything, It's just the way people say it in the language. Compare the (older) English saying "How goes it?". "It" is just life in general, I suppose. And since you are describing your condition by referencing how "it" is "to" you, you must use dative case. I'm not a native German speaker but we have a similar thing in my language, so just my 2 cents to English speakers.
That's what I thought, makes sense. What I have trouble with is why is "ihm" before the verb?
Also, is this sentence really grammatically correct without a subject? Can I expect further indirect objects substituting subjects like this?
This is all very odd. I hope these are not rules but rather colloquial exceptions.
Yes, this sentence is really grammatically correct without this particular type of subject. The indirect object is not substituting for the subject but is rather simply placed in first position. This is an expression that is worded this way in German, but it is worded differently in the English expression.
When the subject is "it", but it is not an actual object, you will see this happen in this type of sentence. It is not (going well) good for him, but only to mean "He is not well." The verb must always be in second position in a main clause, so you had to put something else first and the pronoun is the main reason there is a sentence in the first place. We are talking about "him". Here is a great article about German word order: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~deutsch/Grammatik/WordOrder/MainClauses.html
No, that has an entirely different meaning in English. "Tobacco is not good for him." for example could be "It is not good for him." This would be closer to "It does not go well for him." except that is not just about health. So you must translate the entire German expression with the entire English expression "He is not well." to get the same meaning.
This dative construction is found in both Middle High German and Old High German. In MHG, mir ist wē meant I am sad. In South Rhine Franconian, a dialect of OHG, es ist mir is used.
Braune, Wilhelm; Ebbinghaus, Ernst A. (1994). Althochdeutsches Lesebuch (17th ed.). Tübingen: Niemeyer p. 127
Maybe not a cat, since "die katze" is feminine, but if you referred to some other animal or thing with a neuter gender in German I think "it is not well" should be accepted. I tried translating the phrase as "It is not going well for it", "it" being something with a neuter gender (say, a horse, "das Pferd"). Why shouldn't this be accepted, since "ihm" is the dative form of the "es" pronoun as well?
There is a German pronoun “es” for “it”, but in German anything can be masculine or feminine or neuter, while in English things are always neuter. In German, there is an expression which would be literally (it is not going well for him.) You can tell that “ihm” is in Dative form,but “ihm” is also the Dative form for “it” so try reporting it. I am not sure that I would say it for a horse that I cared about whether it was well or not though in English.
you answered before I asked. thanks Actually both "wll" and "good" might be right depending on whether you meant health wise "well" or good person thus "good" but the "ihm" form hre seems to be specific to health. Whoops noticed others have already explained it and im more depth. Thanks evryone.
If you wanted to use the word healthy, it would be "Er ist nicht gesund." http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/allemand-anglais/gesund to say "He is not well." you need to use the German expression "Ihm ist nicht gut." or "Ihm geht es nicht gut." (Technically,"It does not go well for him", but the meaning is "He is not well.") http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/anglais-allemand/well
If what you wrote was "Ihm ist nicht good," then the problem is just that you wrote the English word "good" instead of the German word "gut." The capital letter is fine; in fact, if you look up to the top of this thread, you will see that "Ihm ist nicht gut." is the answer listed, so it is definitely accepted.
Edit: now that I look more closely, I see that the dark spot above the "Í" is not actually a smudge on my screen, but an accent mark. That could also have been a problem. The German word should not have an accent mark.
The subject is “es” in this sentence, so it would be “Es geht mir gut.” The person who is feeling well or not feeling well is in Dative. It is similar in construction to “It goes well for me.” Dative is also used in a lot of reflexive situations when I wash my hands...etc. https://www.thoughtco.com/parts-of-the-body-dative-reflexive-4077757
Mir ist nicht gut. I am not feeling well.