grammar In linguistics, the grammar (from Ancient Greek ''grammatikḗ'') of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. The term can also ...
, the dative case ( abbreviated , or sometimes when it is a core argument) is a
grammatical case Grammatical case is a linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguist ...
used in some languages to indicate the recipient or beneficiary of an action, as in "Maria Jacobo potum dedit", Latin for "Maria gave Jacob a drink". In this example, the dative marks what would be considered the indirect object of a verb in English. Sometimes the dative has functions unrelated to giving. In Scottish Gaelic language, Scottish Gaelic and Irish language, Irish, the term ''dative case'' is used in traditional grammars to refer to the prepositional case-marking of nouns following simple prepositions and the definite article. In Georgian language, Georgian and Hindustani language, Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu), the dative case can also mark the subject of a sentence.Bhatt, Rajesh (2003). Experiencer subjects. Handout from MIT course “Structure of the Modern Indo-Aryan Languages”. This is called the dative construction. In Hindi, the dative construction is not limited to only certain verbs or tenses and it can be used with any verb in any tense or mood. The dative was common among early Indo-European languages and has survived to the present in the Balto-Slavic languages, Balto-Slavic branch and the Germanic languages, Germanic branch, among others. It also exists in similar forms in several non-Indo-European languages, such as the Uralic languages, Uralic family of languages. In some languages, the dative case has assimilated the functions of other, now extinct cases. In Ancient Greek, the dative has the functions of the Proto-Indo-European language, Proto-Indo-European locative case, locative and instrumental case, instrumental as well as those of the original dative. Under the influence of English, which uses the preposition "to" for (among other uses) both indirect objects (''give to'') and directions of movement (''go to''), the term "dative" has sometimes been used to describe cases that in other languages would more appropriately be called lative case, lative.


"Dative" comes from Latin ''cāsus datīvus'' ("case for giving"), a translation of Greek δοτικὴ πτῶσις, ''dotikē ptôsis'' ("inflection for giving"). Dionysius Thrax in his Art of Grammar also refers to it as ''epistaltikḗ'' "for sending (a letter)", from the verb ''epistéllō'' "send to", a word from the same root as epistle.


The Old English language, which continued in use until after the Norman Conquest of 1066, had a dative case; however, the English case system gradually fell into disuse during the Middle English period, when the accusative and dative of pronouns merged into a single oblique case that was also used with all prepositions. This conflation of case in Middle and Modern English has led most modern grammarians to discard the "accusative" and "dative" labels as obsolete in reference to English, often using the term "objective" for oblique.

Set expressions

The dative case is rare in modern English usage, but it can be argued that it survives in a few set expressions. One example is the word "methinks", with the meaning "it seems to me". It survives in this fixed form from Old English (having undergone, however, phonetic changes with the rest of the language), in which it was constructed as "[it]" + "me" (the dative case of the personal pronoun) + "thinks" (i.e., "seems", < Old English þyncan, "to seem", a verb closely related to the verb þencan, "to think", but distinct from it in Old English; later it merged with "think" and lost this meaning).

Relic pronouns

The modern objective case pronoun whom is derived from the dative case in Old English, specifically the Old English dative pronoun "hwām" (as opposed to the modern subjective "who", which descends from Old English "hwā") – though "whom" ''also'' absorbed the functions of the Old English accusative case, accusative pronoun "hwone". It is also cognate to the word "''wem''" (the dative form of "''wer''") in German. The OED defines all classical uses of the word "whom" in situations where the indirect object ''is not known'' – in effect, indicating the anonymity of the indirect object. Likewise, some of the object forms of personal pronouns are remnants of Old English datives. For example, "him" goes back to the Old English dative ''him'' (accusative was ''hine''), and "her" goes back to the dative ''hire'' (accusative was ''hīe''). These pronouns are not pure datives in modern English; they are also used for functions previously indicated by the accusative.

Modern English

The indirect object of the verb may be placed between the verb and the direct object of the verb: "he gave me a book" or "he wrote me a poem." The indirect object may also be expressed using a adpositional phrase, prepositional phrase using "to" or "for": "he gave a book to me " or "he wrote a poem for me."


In general, the dative (German: ''Dativ'') is used to mark the indirect object of a German language, German sentence. For example: *''Ich schickte dem Mann(e) das Buch.'' (literally: I sent "to the man" the book.) – Masculine *''Ich gab der Frau den Stift zurück.'' (literally: I gave "to the woman" the pencil back.) – Feminine *''Ich überreiche dem Kind(e) ein Geschenk.'' (literally: I hand "to the child" a present.) – Neuter In English, the first sentence can be rendered as "I sent the book ''to the man''" and as "I sent ''the man'' the book", where the indirect object is identified in English by standing in front of the direct object. The normal word order in German is to put the dative in front of the accusative (as in the example above). However, since the German dative is marked in form, it can also be put ''after'' the accusative: ''Ich schickte das Buch dem Mann(e)''. The ''(e)'' after ''Mann'' and ''Kind'' signifies a now largely archaic -e ending for certain nouns in the dative. It survives today almost exclusively in set phrases such as ''zu Hause'' (at home, ''lit.'' to house), ''im Zuge'' (in the course of), and ''am Tage'' (during the day, ''lit.'' at the day), as well as in occasional usage in formal prose, poetry, and song lyrics. Some masculine nouns (and one neuter noun, ''Herz'' [heart]), referred to as ''Weak inflection#Germanic grammar, weak nouns'' or ''n-nouns'', take an -n or -en in the dative singular and plural. Many are masculine nouns ending in -e in the nominative (such as ''Name'' [name], ''Beamte'' [officer], and ''Junge'' [boy]), although not all such nouns follow this rule. Many also, whether or not they fall into the former category, refer to people, animals, professions, or titles; exceptions to this include the aforementioned ''Herz'' and ''Name'', as well as ''Buchstabe'' (letter), ''Friede'' (peace), ''Obelisk'' (obelisk), ''Planet'' (planet), and others. Certain German prepositions require the dative: ''aus'' (from), ''außer'' (out of), ''bei'' (at, near), ''entgegen'' (against), ''gegenüber'' (opposite), ''mit'' (with), ''nach'' (after, to), ''seit'' (since), ''von'' (from), and ''zu'' (at, in, to). Some other prepositions (''an'' [at], ''auf'' [on], ''entlang'' [along], ''hinter'' [behind], ''in'' [in, into], ''neben'' (beside, next to), ''über'' [over, across], ''unter'' [under, below], ''vor'' [in front of], and ''zwischen'' [among, between]) may be used with dative (indicating current location), or accusative (indicating direction toward something). ''Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch(e)'' (dative: The book is lying on the table), but ''Ich lege das Buch auf den Tisch'' (accusative: I put the book onto the table). In addition the four prepositions ''[an]statt'' (in place of), ''trotz'' (in spite of), ''während'' (during), and ''wegen'' (because of) which require the genitive in modern formal language, are most commonly used with the dative in colloquial German. For example, "because of the weather" is expressed as ''wegen dem Wetter'' instead of the formally correct ''wegen des Wetters''. Other prepositions requiring the genitive in formal language, are combined with ''von'' ("of") in colloquial style, e.g. ''außerhalb vom Garten'' instead of ''außerhalb des Gartens'' ("outside the garden"). Note that the concept of an indirect object may be rendered by a prepositional phrase. In this case, the noun's or pronoun's case is determined by the preposition, NOT by its function in the sentence. Consider this sentence: *''Ich sandte das Buch zum Verleger.'' 'I sent the book to the editor.' Here, the subject (grammar), subject, ''Ich'', is in the nominative case, the direct object, ''das Buch'', is in the accusative case, and ''zum Verleger'' is in the dative case, since ''zu'' always requires the dative (''zum'' is a contraction of ''zu'' + ''dem''). However: *''Ich habe das Buch an meinen Freund (''accusative'') weitergegeben.'' 'I forwarded the book to my friend.' (''weitergeben'' = lit.: to give further). In this sentence, ''Freund'' is the indirect object, but, because it follows ''an'' (direction), the accusative is required, not the dative. All of the articles change in the dative case. Some German verbs require the dative for their direct objects. Common examples are ''antworten'' (to answer), ''danken'' (to thank), ''gefallen'' (to please), ''folgen'' (to follow), ''glauben'' (to believe), ''helfen'' (to help), and ''raten'' (to advise). In each case, the direct object of the verb is rendered in the dative. For example: *Meine Freunde helfen ''mir''. (My friends help me.) These verbs cannot be used in normal passive constructions, because German allows these only for verbs with accusative objects. It is therefore ungrammatical to say: *''Ich werde geholfen.'' "I am helped." Instead a special construction called "impersonal passive" must be used: ''Mir wird geholfen'', literally: "To me is helped." A colloquial (non-standard) way to form the passive voice for dative verbs is the following: ''Ich kriege geholfen'', or: ''Ich bekomme geholfen'', literally: "I get helped". The use of the verb "to get" here reminds us that the dative case has something to do with giving and receiving. In German, help is not something you ''perform on'' somebody, but rather something you ''offer'' them. The dative case is also used with reflexive (''sich'') verbs when specifying what part of the self the verb is being done to: *Ich wasche ''mich''. – accusative (I wash myself.) *Ich wasche ''mir die Hände''. – dative (I wash my hands, literally "I wash for myself the hands") Cf. the respective ''accord'' in French language, French: "Les enfants se sont lavé''s''" (''the children have washed themselves'') vs. "Les enfants se sont lavé" [uninflected] "les mains" (''... their hands''). German can use two datives to make sentences like: ''Sei mir meinem Sohn(e) gnädig!'' "For my sake, have mercy on my son!" Literally: "Be for me to my son merciful." The first dative ''mir'' ("for me") expresses the speaker's commiseration (much like the ''dativus ethicus'' in Latin, see below). The second dative ''meinem Sohn(e)'' ("to my son") names the actual object of the plea. Mercy is to be given ''to'' the son ''for'' or ''on behalf of'' his mother/father. Adjective endings also German adjectives#Weak and strong inflection, change in the dative case. There are three inflection possibilities depending on what precedes the adjective. They most commonly use ''weak inflection'' when preceded by a definite article (the), ''mixed inflection'' after an indefinite article (a/an), and ''strong inflection'' when a quantity is indicated (many green apples).


There are several uses for the dative case (): * (dative of purpose), e.g. – "[we learn] not for school, but for life", – "to call for help", – "I'm coming for help", – "I receive [this] as a gift" or – "[this] is for the girl's decoration", or "... for decoration for the girl" (as could be either dative or genitive) *, which means action for (or against) somebody, e.g., – "to till fields for Greeks"; Combination of and (double dative): "to you for joy" * (possessive dative) which means possession, e.g. – literally "to (or for) the angels are wings", this is typically found with a copula (linguistics), copula and translated as "angels have wings". * (ethic dative) indicates that the person in the dative is or should be especially concerned about the action, e.g. "What is Celsus doing for me?" (expressing the speaker being especially interested in what Celsus is doing for him or her); or "Whose interest does this serve?" (literally "To whom does this do good?") *, meaning; 'in the eyes of', e.g., 'he seems to me to be a good man'. *The dative expresses agency with the Latin syntax#The gerundive, gerundive when the gerundive is used to convey obligation or necessity, e.g., , 'these things must be done by us.'



In addition to its main function as the ''dativus'', the dative case has other functions in Ancient Greek language, Classical Greek: (The chart below uses the Latin names for the types of dative; the Greek name for the dative is δοτική πτῶσις, like its Latin equivalent, derived from the verb "to give"; in Ancient Greek, δίδωμι.) *Dativus finalis: The ''dativus finalis'', or the 'dative of purpose', is when the dative is used to denote ''the purpose'' of a certain action. For example: **"" ***"I fight for the king". **"" ***"I die for honour". *Dativus commŏdi (incommodi): The ''dativus commodi sive incommodi'', or the 'dative of benefit (or harm)' is the dative that expresses the advantage or disadvantage of something ''for someone''. For example: **''For the benefit of'': "" (Sophocles, ''Ajax (Sophocles), Ajax'' 1366). ***"Every man toils for himself". **''For the harm or disadvantage of'': "" (Thucydides 2.12.4). ***"This day will be the beginning of great sorrows for the Greeks (i.e., for their disadvantage)". *Dativus possessivus: The ''dativus possessivus'', or the 'dative of possession' is the dative used to denote ''the possessor'' of a certain object or objects. For example: **"" (Thucycdides 1.86.3). ***"For others have a lot of money and ships and horses, but we have good allies (i.e., To others there is a lot of money...)". *Dativus ethicus: The ''dativus ethicus'', or the 'ethic or polite dative,' is when the dative is used to signify that the person or thing spoken of is regarded with interest by someone. This dative is mostly, if not exclusively, used in pronouns. As such, it is also called the "dative of pronouns." For example: **"" (Demosthenes 18.178). ***"Pay close attention to this, I beg you (i.e., please pay..)". **"" (Xenophon, ''Cyropaedia'' 18.178). ***"Oh, mother, how handsome grandpa is (I've just realized!)". *Dativus auctoris: The ''dativus auctoris'', or the 'dative of agent,' is the dative used to denote ''the doer'' of an action. Note, however, that in Classical Greek, the agent is usually in the genitive case, genitive after (by, at the hands of). The agent is in the dative most often with the perfect (grammar), perfect and pluperfect passive voice, passive, and with the verbal adjective in . For example: **"" (Isocrates 8.39) ***"Many cures have been discovered by doctors." *Dativus instrumenti: The ''dativus instrumenti'', or the 'dative of instrument,' is when the dative is used to denote an instrument or means of a certain action (or, more accurately, as the instrumental case). For example: **"." (Homer, ''Odyssey'' 9.407) ***"He kills me with a bait (i.e., by means of a bait)." *Dativus modi: The ''dativus modi'', or the 'dative of manner,' is the dative used to describe ''the manner or way'' by which something happened. For example: **"" (Thucydides 8.84) ***"having died of (from) a disease." *Dativus mensurae: The ''dativus mensurae'', or the 'dative of measurement,' is the dative used to denote ''the measurement of difference''. For example: **"" (Plato, ''Phaedo'' 101a) ***"taller by a head." **"" (Plato, ''Laws (Plato), Laws'' 729d) ***"by far the best." The articles in the Greek dative are


The dative case, strictly speaking, no longer exists in Modern Greek, except in fossilized expressions like δόξα τω Θεώ (from the ecclesiastical τῷ Θεῷ δόξα, "Glory to God") or εν τάξει (ἑν τάξει, lit. "in order", i.e. "all right" or "OK"). Otherwise, most of the functions of the dative have been subsumed in the Accusative case, accusative.

Slavic languages

In Russian language, Russian, the dative case is used for indicating the indirect object of an action (that to which something is given, thrown, read, etc.). In the instance where a person is the goal of motion, dative is used instead of accusative case, accusative to indicate motion toward. This is usually achieved with the preposition ''κ'' + destination in dative case; ''К врачу'', meaning "to the doctor." Dative is also the necessary case taken by certain prepositions when expressing certain ideas. For instance, when the preposition ''по'' is used to mean "along," its object is always in dative case, as in ''По бокам'', meaning "along the sides." Other Slavic languages apply the dative case (and the other cases) more or less the same way as does Russian; some languages may use the dative in other ways. The following examples are from Polish language, Polish: *after certain verbs (dziękować komuś "to thank someone", pomóc komuś "to help someone", wierzyć komuś "to believe someone") *in certain expressions (Czy podoba ci się piosenka? "Do you like the song?", Jest mi zimno "I'm cold", Jest nam smutno "We're feeling sad", Będzie wam trudniej... "It will be more difficult for you guys"), Śniło jej się, że... "She dreamt that" *''dativus commodi'' to indicate action for somebody (Zbuduję temu człowiekowi dom "I will build a house for this person") *when something is taken away or something occurs to someone (Zdechł im pies "Their dog died"; Zabrali mu komputer "They took away his computer"; Zepsuł nam się samochód "Our car broke down"; Coś mi się przypomniało "I just remembered something") Some other kinds of dative use as found in the Serbo-Croatian language are: ''Dativus finalis'' (Titaniku u pomoć "to Titanic's rescue"), ''Dativus commodi/incommodi'' (Operi svojoj majci suđe "Wash the dishes for your mother"), ''Dativus possessivus'' (Ovcama je dlaka gusta "Sheep's hair is thick"), ''Dativus ethicus'' (Šta mi radi Boni? "What is Boni doing? (I am especially interested in what it is)") and Dativus auctoris (Izgleda mi okej "It seems okay to me"). Unusual in other Indo-European branches but common among Slavic languages, endings of nouns and adjectives are different based on grammatical function. Other factors are gender and number. In some cases, the ending may not be obvious, even when those three factors (function, gender, number) are considered. For example, in Polish, 'syn' ("son") and 'ojciec' ("father") are both masculine singular nouns, yet appear as ''syn → synowi'' and ''ojciec → ojcu'' in the dative.

Baltic languages

Both Lithuanian and Latvian have a distinct dative case in the system of nominal declensions. Lithuanian nouns preserve Indo-European inflections in the dative case fairly well: (o-stems) vaikas -> sg. vaikui, pl. vaikams; (ā-stems) ranka -> sg. rankai, pl. rankoms; (i-stems) viltis -> sg. vilčiai, pl. viltims; (u-stems) sūnus -> sg. sūnui, pl. sūnums; (consonant stems) vanduo -> sg. vandeniui, pl. vandenims. Adjectives in the dative case receive pronominal endings (this might be the result of a more recent development): tas geras vaikas -> sg. tam geram vaikui, pl. tiems geriems vaikams. The dative case in Latvian underwent further simplifications – the original masculine endings of ''both'' nouns and adjectives have been replaced with pronominal inflections: tas vīrs -> sg. tam vīram, pl. vīriem. Also, the final "s" in all Dative forms has been dropped. The only exception is personal pronouns in the plural: mums (to us), jums (to you). Note that in colloquial Lithuanian the final "s" in the dative is often omitted, as well: time geriem vaikam. In both Latvian and Lithuanian, the main function of the dative case is to render the indirect object in a sentence: (lt) aš duodu vyrui knygą; (lv) es dodu [duodu] vīram grāmatu – ''I am giving a book to the man''. The dative case can also be used with gerundives to indicate an action preceding or simultaneous with the main action in a sentence: (lt) jam įėjus, visi atsistojo – ''when he walked in, everybody stood up'', lit. ''to him having walked in, all stood up''; (lt) jai miegant, visi dirbo – ''while she slept, everybody was working'', lit. ''to her sleeping, all were working''. In modern standard Lithuanian, Dative case is not required by prepositions, although in many dialects it is done frequently: (dial.) iki (+D) šiai dienai, (stand.) iki (+G) šios dienos – ''up until this day''. In Latvian, the dative case is taken by several prepositions in the singular and all prepositions in the plural (due to peculiar historical changes): sg. bez (+G) tevis ''(without thee)'' ~ pl. bez (+D) jums ''(without you)''; sg. pa (+A) ceļu ''(along the road)'' ~ pl. pa (+D) ceļiem ''(along the roads)''.


In modern Eastern Armenian, the dative is attained by adding any article to the genitive: ''dog'' = շուն GEN > շան ''(of the dog; dog's)'' with no articles DAT > շանը or շանն ''(to the dog)'' with definite articles (-ն if preceding a vowel) DAT > մի շան ''(to a dog)'' with indefinite article DAT > շանս ''(to my dog)'' with 1st person possessive article DAT > շանդ ''(to your dog)'' with 2nd person possessive article There is a general tendency to view -ին as the standard dative suffix, but only because that is its most productive (and therefore common) form. The suffix -ին as a dative marker is nothing but the standard, most common, genitive suffix -ի accompanied by the definite article -ն. But the dative case encompasses indefinite objects as well, which will not be marked by -ին: Definite DAT > Ես գիրքը տվեցի տղային: ''(I gave the book to the boy)'' Indefinite DAT> Ես գիրքը տվեցի մի տղայի: ''(I gave the book to a boy)'' The main function of the dative marking in Armenian is to indicate the receiving end of an action, more commonly the indirect object which in English is preceded by the preposition ''to''. In the use of "giving" verbs like ''give, donate, offer, deliver, sell, bring...'' the dative marks the recipient. With communicative verbs like ''tell, say, advise, explain, ask, answer...'' the dative marks the listener. Other verbs whose indirect objects are marked by the dative case in Armenian are ''show, reach, look, approach...'' Eastern Armenian also uses the dative case to mark the time of an event, in the same way English uses the preposition ''at'', as in ''Meet me at nine o' clock.''

Indo-Aryan languages

Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu)

Hindustani grammar, Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) has true dative case for pronouns, but for nouns the dative case has to be constructed using the dative case-marker (postposition) को کو (ko) to the nouns in their oblique case. Pronouns in Hindustani also have an oblique case, so dative pronouns can also be alternatively constructed using the dative case-marker को کو (ko) with the pronouns in their oblique case, hence forming two sets of synonymous dative pronouns. The following table shows the pronouns in their nominative and their dative forms. Hindustani lacks pronouns in the third person and the demonstrative pronouns double as the third person pronouns

The table below shows the oblique cases of Hindustani for the nouns ''boy'' and ''girl'' which take in the dative case-marker after them to assign the combination of the oblique case and the case-marker the dative case. The oblique case of Hindustani by itself has no meaning and adding the case-marker को کو (ko) assigns the oblique case the function of the dative cas

Dative case in Hindustani can also mark the subject of a sentence. This is called the dative construction or quirky subjects. In the examples below the dative pronoun passes the subjecthood test of subject-oriented anaphora binding. The dative subject मुझे مجھے (''mujhe'') binds the Anaphora (linguistics), anaphora अपने اپنے (''apne'').


The dative case is known as the "fourth case" (chaturthi-vibhakti) in the usual procedure in the declension of nouns. Its use is mainly for the indirect object.

Non-Indo-European languages


As with many other languages, the dative case is used in Hungarian to show the indirect object of a verb. For example, ''Dánielnek adtam ezt a könyvet'' (I gave this book to Dániel). It has two suffixes, ''-nak'' and ''-nek''; the correct one is selected by vowel harmony. The personal dative pronouns follow the ''-nek'' version: ''nekem'', ''neked'', etc. This case is also used to express "for" in certain circumstances, such as "I bought a gift for Mother". In possessive constructions the nak/nek endings are also used but this is not the dative form (rather, the Hungarian noun phrase#Possessive construction with 2 nouns, attributive or possessive case)


Finnish does not have a separate dative case. However, the allative case can fulfill essentially the same role as dative, beyond its primary meaning of directional movement (that is, going somewhere or approaching someone). For example: ''He lahjoittivat kaikki rahansa köyhille (They donated all their money to the poor.)


In the Northeast Caucasian languages, such as Tsez language, Tsez, the dative also takes the functions of the lative case in marking the direction of an action. By some linguists, they are still regarded as two separate cases in those languages, although the suffixes are exactly the same for both cases. Other linguists list them separately only for the purpose of separating syntactic cases from locative cases. An example with the ditransitive verb "show" (literally: "make see") is given below: : The dative/lative is also used to indicate possession, as in the example below, because there is no such verb as "to have". : As in the examples above, the dative/lative case usually occurs in combination with another suffix as poss-lative case; this should not be regarded as a separate case, however, as many of the locative cases in Tsez are constructed analytically; hence, they are, in fact, a combination of two case suffixes. See Tsez language#Locative case suffixes for further details. Verbs of perception or emotion (like "see", "know", "love", "want") also require the logical subject to stand in the dative/lative case. Note that in this example the "pure" dative/lative without its POSS-suffix is used. :


The Turkish grammar#Nouns, dative case (''yönelme durumu'') in Turkish language is formed by adding the ''-e" or "-a'' suffixes to the end of the noun, in accordance with the effected noun's Turkish phonology#Vowel harmony, vowel harmony. The word that should be in the dative case can be found as an answer to the questions 'neye?' (to what?), 'kime?' (to whom?) and 'nereye?' (to where?) will lead to find a dative case in a sentence. There are many different uses for the dative case. The dative also is for objects, usually indirect objects, but sometimes objects that in English would be considered direct: The dative case tells ''whither'', that is, the place ''to which''. Thus it has roughly the meaning of the English prepositions "to" and "into", and also "in" when it can be replaced with "into":

See also

*Dative construction *Declension in English *Double dative


External links

German dative case
A lesson covering the dative case in the German language
Hungarian dative case
from www. HungarianReference.com *Russian Dative

{{DEFAULTSORT:Dative Case Grammatical cases