Dative Case – Declension of nouns in German Grammar

Introduction

The dative case, also known as dative object or indirect object, is the person or thing receiving the indirect action of a verb. In English grammar, the indirect object is often indicated by the prepositions to and for or pronouns like me, him, us, them etc. In German grammar, the dative case is marked by changing articles and noun endings. We use the dative case after certain verbs and prepositions. We can find the dative case by asking wem/was – To whom/what is the indirect action of the verb directed?

Master the declension of German nouns in the dative case online with Lingolia then practise noun declension in the exercises.

Example

Die Kamera gehört der Frau.

Der Mann macht mit der Kamera ein Foto von der Frau.

Die Frau hat dem Mann die Kamera gegeben.

Usage

We use nouns in the dative case in German:

  • after certain verbs (dative object), e. g. gehörento belong, helfento help, antwortento answer
    Example:
    Die Kamera gehört der Frau.The camera belongs to the woman.
  • after certain prepositions: aus, bei, bis zu, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von, zu
    Example:
    Der Mann macht mit der Kamera ein Foto von der Frau.The man takes a picture of the woman with the camera.
  • as the indirect object in sentences with more than one object
    Example:
    Die Frau hat dem Mann die Kamera gegeben.The woman gave the camera to the man.

(see also Overview of the Genitive, Dative and Accusative)

Declension of German Nouns in Dative

The table below shows the declension of masculine, feminine, neuter and plural nouns in the dative case.

definite articleindefinite article
masculine dem Vater einem Vater
feminine der Mutter einer Mutter
neuter dem Kind einem Kind
plural den Eltern Eltern

Exceptions

  • We add -n or -en to some masculine nouns in the accusative, dative and genitive cases.
    Example:
    masculine nouns ending in e: der Junge – dem Jungen
    masculine nouns ending in ent: der Assistent – dem Assistenten
    others, e. g. der Herr – dem Herrn, der Mensch – dem Menschen
  • We add an -n to plural nouns in dative, but not to plurals that end in -s or -n.
    Example:
    die Kinder – den Kindern, die Löffel – den Löffeln
    but: das Baby – dem Babys

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