Dem Dativ

The dative noun case is used when referring to the indirect object of a sentence. What's an indirect object? Something that is affected by a verb, but is not the direct object. Like the recipient of a gift:

[The boy] gives the squirrel the almond

In English, we know whether an object is direct or indirect by the order of the words. "the boy gives the almond the squirrel" would have a totally different meaning! In German, the word order is much more flexible, because you can tell the indirect object from the use of the dative case instead. These two sentences have the same meaning:

[Der Junge] gibt dem Eichhörnchen die Mandel

When referring to the indirect object, masculine and neuter nouns use the dative case dem. This word dem is unique to the dative case, so it's great for quickly interpreting a sentence. Meanwhile, feminine nouns change from the nominative die to dative der.















The plural also has the quirk that it adds an -n to the end of the noun, if it doesn't already have one.

Töskirelon Uferlos Yi
Lasst uns mehr Mandeln unter den Bäumen suchen.
Let us seek more almonds among the trees.
Der Frau:

Be careful not to confuse the feminine dative der with the masculine nominative der, or the plural dative den with the masculine accusative den. While spelled the same, they are effectively different words.

If you know the gender/plurality of the noun you can reliably distinguish them; otherwise, you'll have to rely on contextual clues to the dativeness, e.g. the use of an intransitive verb like helfen.

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