Let's talk about the Dative case...

Let’s talk about verbs with the Dative case. Specifically, I want to share with you the 30 most important verbs that only need this case. 

“They only need the Dative,” you ask? Yes! There are no exceptions here. The Dative case is for "indirect" objects that receive an action from the "direct" object (that's the one with the Accusative case). 

two men talking about the dative case

If you need, you can go on a quick trip back in time to review the Dative case in this post.

It's often used after certain verbs, or after certain prepositions. You came here to see 30 Dative verbs, though, so we'll start with those.


The 30 most important verbs + examples

As the title says, these are the most important verbs that are followed by the Dative case. Of course, there are more verbs in this category, but if you’re able to memorize most of these, you’ll be at a very good point in your German. So, enjoy this beautiful list! 

  1. ähneln - (to look like/to resemble)
    Der Junge ähnelt seinem Vater sehr. (The boy looks a lot like his father.)
  2. antworten – to answer: Ich antworte dem Mann.  (I answer the man.)
  3. applaudieren – to applaud: Das Publikum applaudiert dem Schauspieler.  (The audience applauds the actor.)
  4. ausweichen – to avoid: Ich weiche dem Auto aus.  (I avoid the car.)
  5. befehlen – to command/ order: Ich befehle dir das zu tun.  (I command you to do this.)
  6. begegnen – to meet: Sie begegnet einem Mann.  (She meets a man.)
  7. beitreten – to join: Wir treten dem Fußballverein bei.  (We join the football club.)
  8. danken – to thank: Ich danke dir für dein Geschenk.  (I thank you for your present.)
  9. dienen – to serve: Es dient dem Schutz.  (It serves to protect [for the protection].)
  10. drohen – to threaten: Er droht dem Jungen.  (He threatens the boy.)
  11. fehlen – to be lacking: Du fehlst mir!  (I miss you! Literally: You are lacking in my life.)
  12. folgen – to follow: Ich folge dir bis ans Ende der Welt.  (I follow you to the end of the world.)
  13. gefallen – to be pleasing: Das Kleid gefällt mir.  (I like the dress.)
  14. gehorchen – to obey: Die Kinder müssen dem Lehrer gehorchen.  (The kids have to obey the teacher.)
  15. gehören – to belong to: Das Auto gehört mir.  (It’s my car. Literally: The car belongs to me.)
  16. gelingen – to succeed: Das ist dir gut gelungen.  (You did a good job. Literally: You succeeded well at this.)
  17. genügen – to suffice, be enough: Eine Tasse Kaffee genügt mir.  (One cup of coffee is enough for me.)
  18. glauben – to believe: Ich glaube meinem Mann.  (I believe my husband.)
  19. gratulieren – to congratulate: Ich gratuliere dir zum Geburtstag.  (I wish you a happy birthday.)
  20. helfen – to help: Kannst du mir bitte helfen?  (Can you please help me?)
  21. nützen – to be of use, utilize: Das Programm nützt ihm nichts.  (The program is of no use to him.)
  22. passen – to fit: Die Hose passt mir nicht.  (The pants don’t fit me.)
  23. passieren – to happen to: Ist dir das schon einmal passiert?  (Has this ever happened to you?)
  24. raten – to advise/ to recommend: Ich rate dir nicht zu kommen.  (I recommend you not to come.)
  25. schaden – to be harmful: Das schadet der Pflanze.  (This is harmful for the plant.)
  26. schmecken – to taste: Der Kuchen schmeckt mir gut.  (The cake tastes good [to me].)
  27. vertrauen – to trust: Ich vertraue dir.  (I trust you.)
  28. verzeihen – to forgive: Kannst du mir bitte verzeihen?  (Can you please forgive me?)
  29. weh tun – to hurt: Der Junge tut dem Mädchen weh.  (The boy is hurting the girl.)
  30. widersprechen – to contradict/ to disagree: Ich widerspreche meinem Freund.  (I disagree with my boyfriend.)


+ One more for good luck: zustimmen – to agree to: Ich stimme dir zu. - (I agree with you.)

Prepositions with the Dative case 

There are also specific prepositions that only need the Dative case, which is nice because it easier to keep track of cases in general. There are also some prepositions that can take either the Dative case or the Accusative case.

So, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “How do I know whether to use the Dative or the Accusative with these so-called two-way-prepositions?”

The answer is pretty simple: 

Accusative

Use the ACcusative when there is ACtion involved. This means when you have a movement from point A to point B. 

  • Der Ball rollt neben den Stuhl. (The ball rolls next to the chair.)


Dative

Use the Dative, when there is a static situation. 

  • Der Ball liegt neben dem Stuhl. (The ball is lying next to the chair.)


When verbs require certain cases

Yes, different verbs need different cases, not just the Dative. Otherwise, learning German would only be half the fun. Some take the Nominative or Genitive case, many take the Dative and most, about 95% of all verbs, call for the Accusative case. 

Unfortunately, there is no rule or pattern that tells you which case you have to use after certain verbs. It takes practice, repetition, and memorization. You can also check the dictionary. 

German dative abbreviation in the dictionary


Right in front of the verb you’ll find the abbreviations: 

  • “jdm” for jemandem (somebody) for the Dative case and 
  • “jdn” for jemanden (somebody) for the Accusative case.


They're used like this:

  • Er winkt jemandem zu. (He is waving to somebody.)
  • Er winkt jemanden durch. (He waves somebody through.)


Congratulations! Glückwunsch! 🙂 You’ve done it again!  

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