Verbs with Dative and Accusative Complements

On this page you'll learn everything about verbs that have both an accusative and dative complement.

Complements are really important to help you know whether you should use the nominativeaccusativedative, or genitive case. But first, you have to know what a complement is. If you aren't sure, take a look at this page on complements in the German language.

General Info

Some verbs have, along with a nominative complement, a dative and an accusative complement.

This is often the case with verbs describing giving, taking, and saying. Such verbs require three persons or things in the sentence.

Examples

The subject is, as always, the nominative complement.

The dative complement is normally the receiver of the action (indirect object).

The accusative complement is the thing being acted upon (direct object).

  • Der Mann gibt dem Kind den Ball.“

"Der Mann" is the acting personNominative

The child is the receiver ⇒ Dative dem Kind

The ball is the direct object, the thing being acted upon ⇒ Accusativeden Ball

  • Er schickt seinem Bruder das Geschenk per Post.“

"Er" is the acting person Nominative

His brother is the receiver ⇒ Dativeseinem Bruder

The gift is the direct object, the thing being acted upon ⇒ Accusative das Geschenk

"Per Post" is an adjunct (additional information that could be left out).

  • Er hat mir eine E-Mail geschrieben.“

"Er" is the acting person Nominative

I am the receiver ⇒ Dative ⇒ „mir“ (personal pronoun in dative)

The email is the direct object, the thing being acted upon ⇒ Accusativeeine E-Mail

Achtung Hinweis

Attention!

When the "receiver " is unknown or obvious, the dative complement can be left out:

  • „Er hat (mir) eine E-Mail geschrieben.“
  • „Er schickt (seinem Bruder) das Geschenk per Post.“

Word Order

Sentences with nouns (no pronouns)

Sentence with an accusative pronoun or a dative pronoun (but not both)

Sentences with both an accusative pronoun and a dative pronoun

The nominative complement (subject) usually goes in position 1.

You CAN put the dative or accusative pronoun in position 1 as well but be careful! It can be quite confusing and I only recommend it when the dative or accusative complement isn‘t a pronoun.

Summary

  • Some verbs require both a dative and an accusative complement.
  • These verbs need 3 persons or things to make sense.
    Someone to perform the action (nominative), something to be acted upon (accusative), and something to receive the action (dative).
  • These rules only apply if we don’t use prepositions. When prepositions are involved, they always determine the case

Related Topics:

All the info you need for the various complements in German:

If you aren't confident in using cases, look at these lessons again: NominativeAccusativeDative and Genitive.

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