German course - part 1c - giving and receiving - possession - the dative and the genitive - der Dativ und der Genitiv - case
What's Dativ and Genitiv do?
The terms are very abstract because in grammar we want to widen the scope of these terms. But in fact it is a simple relationship between two things or persons in which one person (or thing) is doing something to another person or thing.
I can feel you are getting nervous. You must be asking:"Why is he talking about case all the time? And what's in it for me? The other two cases I shall therefore cover briefly, so that we can start to really learn some words. You will soon see that German is a language based on systemic case and in time this knowledge will come in handy. The next case I want to show you 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 gives the text to the girl.
Die Lehrerin gibt dem Mädchen den Text.
The phrase "to the girl" nenotes that the girl receives something from the denominative noun, the teacher. In German the recipient (to the girl) is in the dative case (dem Mädchen).
Let us list all cases of "das Mädchen". (I hate offering fragments.)
|Case||das Mädchen (the girl)|
The last case is the genitive case (der Genitiv).
It has a wide range of functions, but mainly expresses possession.
In English you find it too:
Dave's book is really very good.
Daves Buch ist wirklich sehr gut.
Unlike in English you don't need the apostrophe to seperate the noun and the "-s". I can hear you asking:"What is the sense of all this?" Your question is definitely justified as it would suffice to align words and let the context do the rest. If you take a sidelong glance at Latin, you find there a language that has no rules for laying down patterns of word order whatsoever. They have a fifth case called the ablative which is in charge of all sorts of adverbials, the peripheries. The reason is that case serves to distinguish all parts in a sentence for which reason the word order has no significance whatsoever. Some aspects of German can be compared to Latin as every constituent has a certain syntactical function which we have already broken down earlier. And German doesn't rely that much on word order, it does not require it, but still, word oder plays an important role. Please don't ask me why there is the marking of case via the determiner. It simply is there and we have to learn it. But remember that I promised to not give you any useless material to learn.
Unfortunately , if we want to master German, we must learn how to deal with this systemization of parts. Now that we have laid out all the (main) functions of case, let's move on together to learn more about its phenomena, so the next question is how does case manifest itself?>> continue
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