The Dative Case

Unlike the accusative or nominative cases, the dative case is one which doesn’t show up in a great number of sentences. It’s still just as vitally important as those other two cases, however, because it does so many different jobs.

Firstly, the dative case is what we use for the indirect object in a sentence, i.e. something which is being referred to in the same sense that we would use ‘to’ for in English, with verbs like ‘give’, ‘say’, ‘send’ and so on. There are also many verbs which take a dative object for other reasons. Click here for the full lesson on dative objects and verbs which take a dative indirect object.

There are also many prepositions which put the noun they control into the dative case. The dative prepositions are:

aus
bei
mit
nach
seit
von
zu
gegenüber
außer

There are other prepositions which put the noun in the dative case if the other noun in the sentence is not moving in relation to the prepositioned noun, by which we mean the difference between ‘the kids playing in the kitchen’ and ‘the kids running into the kitchen’.

Die Kinder spielen in der Küche.

Die Kinder laufen in die Küche.

These prepositions are:

in
an
auf
hinter
neben
vor
zwischen
über
unter

A whole lesson on these prepositions is coming soon!

Finally, we often use the dative with pronouns to describe how somebody feels about something; for example, if I want to say ‘It’s embarrassing for me to arrive so late’ the German would be:

Es ist mir peinlich, so spät anzukommen.

Here’s another couple of examples:

It’s really important to him that we arrive on time.
Es ist ihm sehr wichtig, dass wir pünktlich ankommen.

She doesn’t like chocolate cake.
Schokokuchen schmeckt ihr nicht.

This last example is a slightly special structure. Stay tuned for an upcoming lesson on more about these dative verb structures!

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