Have you been struggling with the German cases? If yes, you have reached the right place! In this post we will be taking you through the dative case in German. The case is known as der Dativ in German.
We already know that there are four cases in German. They are Nominativ, Akkusativ, Dativ and Genetiv. The nominative case is used for subjects, accusative case for direct objects, dative case for indirect objects and the genitive case is used to signify possession or belonging.
We have already introduced you to the 4 cases in German in this post. If you are a German language beginner, make sure you check the article before going through this one!
If you want to learn about the other 3 German cases in detail, check out the lessons here –
1. Nominative Case in German
2. Accusative Case in German
3. Genitive Case in German
What is the Dative Case in German?
The dative case describes the indirect object of a sentence. Indirect object is a noun that receives something (usually the direct accusative object). It is known as der Dativ in German.
This case answers the question “wem?” (to whom?) or “was?” (what?).
Definite and Indefinite Articles in the German Dative Case
The German Definite Articles in Dative Case
A definite article is used before a noun when the reader or listener knows exactly what is being referred to. It normally points out to a specific person or thing. In English, “the” is a definite article. Example – The man is suffering from cold. Here, a specific man or person is suffering from cold.
Examples of the bestimmter Artikel or definite articles in the dative case in German are -: dem Sohn 👦 – the son, der Tochter 👧 – the daughter, dem Mädchen 👩👧 – the young girl, den Kindern 👨👦👦- the children.
Der Vater kauft dem Sohn ein T-Shirt. (der Sohn) -> The father buys the son a T-shirt.
Die Mutter kauft der Tochter eine Bluse. (die Tochter) -> The mother buys the daughter a blouse.
Die Mutter kauft dem Mädchen einen Rock. (das Mädchen) -> The mother buys the girl a skirt.
Der Vater kauft den Kindern die Geschenke. (das Kind, die Kinder Pl.) -> The father buys gifts for the children.
The German Indefinite Articles in Dative Case
An indefinite article is used when we talk or write about an indefinite person or thing. In English, “a” and “an” are indefinite articles. Example – A man is suffering from cold. Here, a man could be any man.
Indefinite article in the dative case in German for the masculine gender is “einem“, for the feminine form it is “einer” and for the neuter gender it is “einem“. There is no plural form in case of indefinite articles.
As discussed already, the English indefinite articles are “a” and “an”. In English, for the plural form, we do not say “I buy an apples.” or “I buy a grapes.”, as it is incorrect. We only say “I buy apples.” or “I buy grapes”. Similarly, in German there is no indefinite article for the plural forms.
Examples of the unbestimmter Artikel or indefinite articles in the German dative case are -: einem Mann 👨 – a man, einer Tochter 👧 – a daughter, einem Mädchen 👩👧 – a young girl
Ich gebe einem Mann das T-Shirt. (der Mann) -> I give a man the T-shirt.
Sie hat einer Tochter das T-Shirt gegeben. (die Tochter) -> She gave the T-shirt to a daughter.
Die Mutter kauft einem Mädchen ein T-Shirt. (das Mädchen) -> The mother buys a T-shirt for a girl.
|Definite Article / Bestimmter Artikel
|Indefinite Article / Unbestimmter Artikel
|den + n
Negative Articles in the Dative Case in German
Negative articles are used to negate nouns. Although in the plural case we don’t have an indefinite article, we do have a negative article “kein” in case of the negations. Below are examples for each gender.
Ich habe keinem Mann das Portemonnaie gegeben. (der Mann 👨) -> I did not give the wallet to any man.
Sie hat keiner Tochter den Schlüssel gegeben. (der Tochter 👧) -> She did not give the key to any daughter.
Die Mutter hat keinem Mädchen ein T-Shirt gekauft.(das Mädchen 👩👧) -> The mother did not buy a T-shirt for any girl.
Ich habe keinen Kindern das Spielzeug gegeben. (die Kinder 👨👦👦) -> I did not give any children the toy
|keinen + n
Indefinite Pronouns in the Dative Case in German
There are a few pronouns which refer to persons or things in a general way, but they do not refer to a specific person or thing. These are called the indefinite pronouns. In English, these pronouns are one, none, all, some, many, few, nobody, anybody etc. Example– One hardly knows what to do. / Few escaped unhurt. / Do good to others. / All were drowned.
In German, some of the indefinite pronouns which can be used to express an indefinite number are “jed-“, “ein-“,”kein-“,”all-“,”viel-” and “wenig-“. The endings of these stems will depend on the gender and cases.
Other indefinite pronouns in their dative form include:
einem [one] – to talk about people in general. Verbs are used in singular form when man is used in a sentence.
jemandem [someone] – to talk about an indefinite person.
niemandem [nobody] – to refer to nobody or no one.
mit etwas [with something] – to talk about an indefinite object or thing.
mit nichts [with nothing] – to refer to no object or thing.
Personal Pronouns in the German Dative Case
A pronoun is a word which is used instead of a noun or for a noun. A personal pronoun is a word which is used in a sentence to replace previously mentioned person or thing. It can also be used to address other people.
Dieses Buch gehört mir. (This book belongs to me.)
Wie kann ich Ihnen helfen? (How can I help you?)
|to me/for me
|to you/for you
|to him/for him
|to her/for her
|to it/for it
|to us/for us
|to you-all/for you-all
|to them/for them
|to you/for you (formal)
Reflexive Pronouns in the Dative Case in German
Reflexive pronouns are used to refer back to the subject of the sentence. German reflexive verbs use the reflexive pronouns, which mean “oneself”. For example, sich ausruhen, sich duschen, sich rasieren etc.
In the accusative case, we saw the examples as below:
Ich wasche mich. (I wash myself.)
Er rasiert sich. (He shaves himself.)
Now, in the dative case, see the examples below where a direct object is involved.
Ich wasche mir die Hände. (I wash my hands / I am washing my hands.)
Putzt du dir die Zähne? (Are you brushing your teeth?)
Possessive Pronouns in the German Dative Case
Possessive pronouns show that something belongs to someone. It shows possession or belonging. Examples in English are : his, hers, yours, theirs, ours, mine etc. A possessive pronoun is used without a noun.
The hotel is far away and your car is broken. You can go with mine.
Das Hotel ist weit weg und dein Auto ist kaputt. Du kannst mit meinem fahren.
Possessive Articles in the Dative Case in German
Possessive articles, similar to possessive pronouns show possession or ownership. The difference is that possessive articles are used before nouns.
I am giving my husband a gift. / I give my husband a gift.
Ich gebe meinem Mann ein Geschenk.
Question Word “Welch-” in the German Dative Case
“Welch-” is a commonly used interrogative pronoun in German. It is used to ask question about a person or thing. It replaces a person or a thing. This question word takes endings similar to definite articles.
For what reason did you do that?
Aus welchem Grund hast du das gemacht?
|Question Word “Welch-“
Demonstrative Pronouns in the Dative Case in German
Demonstrative pronouns are used to point out the objects or things they refer to clearly. Words such as this, that or those are used in English as demonstrative adjectives. Demonstrative pronouns are used directly, without a noun.
Zu welchen Jeans passt meine Jacke? (die Jeans) -> Zu diesen
When it comes to the Dative plural case, the pronoun is identical with relative pronouns.
|zu welchem Hut?
|zu diesem / dem
|zu welcher Socke
|zu dieser / der
|zu welchem T-Shirt?
|zu diesem / dem
|zu welchen Jacken?
|zu diesen / denen
Demonstrative Articles in the Dative Case in German
Demonstrative articles, similar to demonstrative pronouns, are used to point out the objects or things they refer to clearly. The difference between the two is that demonstrative articles are used before a noun.
Was passt zu diesem Rock? (der Rock)
In diesem Rock siehst du charmant aus. (der Rock)
|zu welchem Hut?
|zu diesem / dem Hut
|zu welcher Socke
|zu dieser / der Socke
|zu welchem T-Shirt?
|zu diesem / dem T-Shirt
|zu welchen Jacken?
|zu diesen / den Jacken
Adjective Endings in the Dative Case in German
An adjective is a word that describes the noun. When adjectives are used to describe a particular noun, they take the adjective endings. In English, there are no adjective endings.
Neu is the adjective below which has been given an ending based on the gender of the noun Bleistift (der) which is masculine.
He is writing with new pencil.
Er schreibt mit neuem Bleistift. (der Bleistift)
Alt is the adjective below which has been given an ending based on the gender of the noun Frau (die) which is feminine.
Will you please help the old woman?
Hilfst du bitte der alten Frau? (die Frau)
Klein is the adjective below which has been given an ending based on the gender of the noun Kind (das) which is neuter.
He is playing with a small child.
Er spielt mit einem kleinen Kind. (das Kind)
Süß is the adjective below which has been given an ending based on the gender of the noun Kinder (die) which is plural.
Will you please play with the sweet kids?
Spielst du bitte mit den süßen Kindern? (Pl. die Kinder)
|dem netten Mann
|einem netten Mann
|der schönen Frau
|einer schönen Frau
|dem kleinen Kind
|einem kleinen Kind
|den alten Büchern
|– alten Büchern
Relative Pronouns in the German Dative Case
A relative pronoun is a word which is used to refer to nouns mentioned previously or in a previous sentence. Relative pronouns can be used to join two sentences. Some of the relative pronouns in the English language are which, that, whose, whoever, whomever, who, and whom.
I have found the pen. I lost the pen.
I have found the pen which I lost.
Similarly in German, depending on each case and the gender of the nouns, relative pronouns can be used instead of the nouns. Below is an example as well as a table of relative pronouns in the dative case in German.
This is the man we gave the cell phone to.
Das ist der Mann, dem wir das Handy gegeben haben. (der Mann)
We will be elaborating on this topic in the future posts soon so don’t forget to come back and check how to build relative sentences!
Prepositions in the German Dative Case
Below is a list of German dative prepositions. The nouns and pronouns following these prepositions will always be in the dative case. For more information on this, check out our lesson “Learn German Prepositions the Easy Way.”
|from / out / of
|except for / besides
|by / near / during / while
|with / by
|after / in accord with
|as of / since
|from / by
|opposite / towards / across from
German Verbs which take the Dative Case
Below are some of the German dative verbs. We have already written a lesson on this topic “70 Basic Dative Verbs and Accusative Verbs in German” so don’t forget to check it out!
|to advise somebody / something
|to benefit somebody / something
|to suit somebody
|to miss something
|to thank somebody
|to assist / help somebody
|to damage somebody / something
|to belong to somebody / something
|to listen to somebody
|to believe somebody
|to please somebody / to appeal
|to agree with something
|to trust somebody
|to respond to somebody
|to be to somebody’s liking / taste
|to congratulate somebody on something
German Dative Case Summary
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