While learning German, one of the most common difficulties every beginner faces is not knowing whether to use accusative case or dative case. Apart from prepositions, even dative verbs and accusative verbs determine which case to use. You can learn more about cases in our lesson The 4 German Cases.
Many verbs require accusative case, however there is a set of verbs that always takes the dative case. There are also very few verbs in German that use genitive case. In the lists below, you’ll find common German dative verbs, accusative verbs as well as genitive verbs.
German Dative Verbs
Some verbs take a “direct object” in the dative case instead of the normal accusative case. Such verbs are called as dative verbs in German. This dative object is usually the only object in the sentence. Here’s a list of frequently used German verbs that always take the dative case:-
|jdm. absagen||to cancel on somebody /|
to turn someone down
|ähneln||to resemble / to look like|
|ausweichen||to avoid / dodge|
|befehlen||to command / order|
|begegnen||to encounter / meet|
|beistehen||to assist / support|
|beitreten||to join / enter|
|einfallen||to occur to / come to mind|
|entgegenkommen||to accommodate / meet|
|fehlen||to miss / lack|
|gefallen||to like / please|
|gehören||to belong to|
|genügen||to suffice / be enough|
|Leid tun||to be sorry|
|sich nähern||to approach / come closer to|
|nachlaufen||to run after|
|nützen||to be of use to|
|passen||to suit / fit|
|passieren||to happen to|
|schaden||to harm / damage|
|vertrauen||to trust / confide in|
|verzeihen||to forgive / pardon|
|weh tun||to hurt / ache|
|winken||to wave to / at|
|zuhören||to listen to|
|zürnen||to be angry with|
|zustimmen||to agree with|
- Der Schokoladenkuchen schmeckt mir gut. (I like the chocolate cake. / The chocolate cake tastes good to me.)
- Ich danke dir für die Hilfe. (I thank you for the help.)
- Maria stimmt ihm nicht zu. (Maria does not agree with him.)
German Genitive Verbs
There are only a few verbs that use the genitive case. These verbs are usually found in formal writing (literature, in court or at the police station). They are rarely used in conversational German.
During conversations, a genitive verb can be easily replaced by another verb with the same meaning. Another easier way is to add a preposition. Here’s a list of genitive verbs in German:-
|bedürfen||to need / require|
|sich erinnern||to remember|
|sich brüsten||to brag / boast about|
|sich schämen||to be ashamed of|
|sich vergewissern||to make sure of / ascertain|
|sich enthalten||to abstain from|
|verdächtigen||to suspect of|
- Er bedarf meiner Hilfe. (He needs my help.)
Here, the verb bedürfen can be replaced by the verb brauchen. So, the same sentence can be written as – Er braucht meine Hilfe.
- Ich schäme mich meiner Dummheit. (I am ashamed of my foolishness.)
Here, we can add the preposition für. So, the same sentence can be written as – Ich schäme mich für meine Dummheit.
Verbs with Accusative and Dative Case
There are many German verbs that require accusative case (direct object) as well as dative case (indirect object). Whenever there are two objects in a sentence, the person is always dative and the thing is always accusative.
An important point to remember is that the dative object precedes the accusative object. Only when the accusative object is a pronoun, it is placed before the dative object.
|beantworten||to answer / reply to|
|erzählen||to tell / narrate|
|reichen||to pass / hand|
|sagen||to say / tell|
|schicken / senden||to send|
|verschweigen||to keep secret / withhold|
|wegnehmen||to take away|
- Kannst du mir etwas Geld leihen? (Can you lend me some money?)
- Sie erzählen uns die Geschichte des Films. (They are telling us the story of the movie.)
- Dieses Buch ist wunderbar. Ich schenke es meinem Vater. (This book is wonderful. I am gifting it to my father.)
German Accusative Verbs
Except dative verbs and genitive verbs, all the other verbs are accusative. This means that majority of the verbs take accusative case. The only exception to this rule is the verb sein. It always requires nominative case.
Also, you learned in the previous section of this lesson that when there are 2 objects in a sentence, one is dative and the other is accusative. However, there are a few exceptions. Some verbs like fragen, kosten and lehren can take two accusative objects.
This was all about the accusative verbs and dative verbs in German. It is best to simply learn the dative verbs first, because majority of the remaining German verbs are always accusative.
We’ve also uploaded a list of verbs with prepositions for you. Click here to download your free PDF now!
Subscribe to our newsletter or click here to follow us on Instagram to receive updates about new lessons and upcoming contests. Keep scrolling, keep learning!