Learn German online free - case usage - giving and receiving - possession - the dative complement - der Dativ - dative case

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Learn German online free - case usage - giving and receiving - possession - the dative complement - der Dativ - dative case

What is the significance of the dative

The next case to cover is the indirect object or the dative case, the German Dativ. It doesn't exist in English, so again first I'll give an abstract outline and then an example. The name dative is self-explanatory, derived from Latin and it means "pertaining to something given".

The constituent in the dative generally is a person to whom something is given:
The teacher is giving the paper to the girl.
Die Lehrerin gibt dem Mädchen das Blatt.
The phrase "to the girl" nenotes that the girl receives something from the nominative noun, the teacher. In German the recipient (to the girl) is in the dative case (dem Mädchen).

teacher in America. Is she a teacher of the German language? A teacher in America depiction   ( en , 1059 x 706 ):   Teacher, learning, teaching, language, school, university, lesson, children

Let us list all cases of "das Mädchen".

Case das Mädchen (the girl)
Nominativ das Mädchen
Akkusativ das Mädchen
Dativ dem Mädchen
Genitiv des Mädchens
Nominativ die Mädchen
Akkusativ die Mädchen
Dativ den Mädchen
Genitiv der Mädchen

In English you mostly use the preposition "to" which in German is contained in the dative case. So because it is contained in the case itself, you don't need a preposition in German. In fact it would be wrong. Die Lehrerin gibt zu dem Mädchen das Blatt. In German there are not many verbs to which a dative complement is attached without a preposition, like:

See the difference between "helfen" and "geben". "Helfen" requires only a dative, whereas "geben" requires a dative and an accusative case.

  • Die Lehrerin hilft der Schülerin.
  • Sie gibt der Schülerin das Blatt.

Important to note is also the difference between verb complements that come with a preposition and complements that have no preposition:

  • Sie geht zu der Lehrerin.
  • Sie hilft der Lehrerin.

Usage of the dative and the accusative

Many students ask how they can tell when to use the dative and when the accusative. It is quite easy if you see the significance of prepositions. A "pure" dative complement without a preposition is used by very few verbs, about 20-50 verbs, it might be more, but the point is the accusative (with or without preposition) can be used by a vast number of verbs. So all you have to do is learn these special verbs that require a pure dative complement and you will know how to deal with the rest.

When a preposition is used you have to keep apart prepositions that come with dative or accusative and prepositions that come with only one case.

The prepositions in, an, auf, über, unter, hinter, vor, zwischen, neben come with akkusative or dative. Take a look here too.

  • in das (=ins) Haus (Akk.) in dem Haus (=im, Dat.)
  • an die Wand (Akk.) an der Wand
  • auf das (aufs) Haus (Akk.) auf dem Haus (Dat.)
  • über die Tür (Akk.) über der Tür (Dat.)
  • unter das Bett (Akk.) unter dem Bett (Dat.)
  • hinter die Tür (Akk.) hinter der Tür (Dat.)
  • vor den Schrank (Akk.) vor dem Schrank (Dat.)
  • zwischen die Tür und das Bett (Akk.)
  • zwischen der Tür und dem Bett (Dat.)
  • neben den Schrank (Akk.) neben dem Schrank (Dat.)

These important prepositions take only one case:

  • von + Dativ
  • bei + Dativ
  • zu + Dativ
  • durch + Akkusativ
  • Er kommt vom (=von dem) Friseur.
  • Er ist beim (=bei dem) Friseur.
  • Er geht zum (=zu dem) Friseur.
  • Er klettert durch das Fenster.

Here too you have a simple rule to understand when to use which case. While using in, an, auf, über, unter, hinter, vor, zwischen, neben you use the accusative case for destinations, and the dative for situations.

  • Ich gehe in die Schule. (Accusative, the school is a destination)
  • Ich bin in der Schule. (Dative, situation)

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