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Both nouns and pronouns make changes when they are in the dative case. Let’s look at the dative case of some example nouns with the definite article (der, die, das), the indefinite article (ein, eine), and kein.

masculine                       feminine                        neuter                          plural
dem Hund                     der Tante                       dem Haus                  den Häusern
einem Hund                 einer Tante                    einem Haus               Häusern
keinem Hund               keiner Tante                  keinem Haus             keinen Häusern

Notice that nouns in the dative plural must have an -n ending: mit die Kinder becomes mit den Kindern. The personal pronouns change from nominative to dative as follows:

nominative                         dative
ich                                         mir
du                                         dir
er                                          ihm
sie                                         ihr
es                                          ihm
wir                                       uns
ihr                                       euch
Sie                                       Ihnen
sie                                       ihnen
wer                                     wem
jemand jemand/            jemandem
niemand niemand/      niemandem

The dative case is used in four specific ways:
1. It identifies the indirect object of a sentence.
2. It identifies the object of a dative verb.
3. It identifies the object of a dative preposition.
4. It identifies the object of an impersonal expression.

Indirect objects

Indirect objects function similarly in both English and German. To identify the indirect object in an English sentence, ask to whom or for whom of the verb. The answer will be the indirect object. It works the same way in German.

Johann gibt seinem Freund 10 Euro.                     Johann gives his friend 10 euros.
Wem gibt Johann 10 Euro?  The indirect object is seinem Freund.

Ich kaufte meiner Mutter Blumen.                       I bought my mother flowers.
Wem kaufte ich Blumen? The indirect object is meiner Mutter.

Consider the following difference in the use of indirect objects in English and German. English tends to use a preposition (to or for) when forming the question about the indirect object. German asks the question with the dative pronoun wem. For example:

Wem gibst du das Geld?                       To whom are you giving the money?
Wem hat er den Kuchen gekauft?      For whom did he buy the cake?

Dative verbs

There are many dative verbs. Here are some of the most commonly used ones.
begegnen                             meet, encounter
danken                                thank
dienen                                 serve
drohen                                threaten
folgen                                  follow
gefallen                              please, like
gehören                              belong to
glauben                              believe
helfen                                 help
raten                                  advise
schaden                             harm
vertrauen                         trust

Ich begegnete einem alten Freund in New Road .                 I met an old friend in New Road.
Kamal hat mir dafür gedankt.                                                    Kamal thanked me for it.
Der Alkohol schadet der Gesundheit.                                      Alcohol harms your health.

Notice that in the English translations of these German sentences, the object of the verb is a direct object. But in the German sentences, each object is in the dative case.

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Dative prepositions

The dative prepositions require their objects in prepositional phrases to be in the dative case.

aus                                                              out, from
außer                                                          except (for)
bei                                                               by, at
gegenüber                                                 opposite, across from
mit                                                              with
nach                                                           after
seit                                                              since
von                                                             from, of
zu                                                               to

Take note that gegenüber does not precede pronouns. It follows pronouns. But it can either precede or follow nouns. If a noun refers to a person, there is a tendency to place gegenüber after the noun.

Wer sitzt ihm gegenüber?                             Who’s sitting across from him?
Die Kirche ist gegenüber dem Park.           The church is across from the park.
Wir sitzen dem Professor gegenüber.        We sit opposite the professor.

The dative prepositions act as signals that the nouns or pronouns that follow them must be in the dative case.

Die Kinder kommen aus der Schule.               The children are coming out of the school.
Niemand kennt sie außer meinem Bruder.    No one knows him except my brother.
Mein Onkel wird bei uns wohnen.                   My uncle is going to live at our house.

Prepositional adverbs

If the object of a preposition is an inanimate object, a prepositional adverb is formed.

preposition                  prepositional adverb                         question
(mit) + ihm =               damit                                                     womit?
(zu) + ihr =                  dazu                                                        wozu?
(aus) + ihnen =           daraus                                                    woraus?

If the preposition begins with a vowel, add the letter r between the prefix and the preposition: aus becomes daraus and woraus.

Impersonal expressions
Numerous German expressions often use es as their subject. They are called impersonal expressions, because they do not identify a specific person or object as their subject. The impersonal it is the doer of the action. Often these expressions require a dative object.

es fällt mir ein                                        it occurs to me
es gefällt dem Mann                             the man likes it
es geht der Frau gut                             the woman feels well
es gelingt mir                                         I succeed, I manage (to do something)
es genügt dem Studenten                   the student is satisfied (with something)
es glückt dir                                           you prosper, you succeed
es kommt mir vor                                 it appears to me
es passt ihr gut                                      it fits her well
es scheint ihm                                       it seems to him
es schmeckt mir gut                            it tastes good to me
es steht ihr gut                                     she looks good in it

The impersonal expressions are not used exclusively with the pronoun es. Almost any singular or plural noun that makes sense in the sentence can be used as the subject of these verbs.

Diese Handschuhe gefallen dem Mann.                    The man likes these gloves.
Das Kleid passt ihr gut.                                                 The dress fits her well.

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