Take the 2-minute tour ×
German Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of German wanting to discuss the finer points of the language and translation. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I read this sentence in a book I'm using for exercises:

Jener Mann war kein Dieb, und man setze ihn daher in Freiheit; sofort gab man seiner Frau die frohe Kunde seiner Unschuld.

I don't understand the case used in the bold part. Since the subject of the second phrase should be "man", I would have expected a dative instead of a nominative (so, I'd have written "seinem Frau"), because I translate as:

That man was not a thief and thus he was released; the news about his innocence was given (impersonal) to his wife.

What am I missing?

share|improve this question
2  
seinem Frau would mean that his wife is a man. seinem indicates that the object is male (what can absolutly never happen here) –  Postback Jul 16 '13 at 7:54

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Seems you just jot a bit confused and were on the right track...

The subject of the second phrase is indeed "man" (impersonal). But the object is "his wife" and it is here that a dative is to be expected.

And that is just what's there:

Nom.: seine Frau
Gen.: seiner Frau
Dat.: seiner Frau
Akk.: seine Frau

On a sidenote: The passage you quoted sounds like rather old and quaint German, probably from a fairytale. While the grammar is correct, this is not really the language spoken here anymore. Expressions like "frohe Kunde geben" and "in Freiheit setzen" are definitely obsolete.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks, that was pretty stupid indeed. Sometimes I get confused by this simple fact that German possessive adjectives depend on both the gender of the possessed noun and on that of the possessor! As for the old-fashioned thing, I guess that's because this book is rather old. –  martina Jul 16 '13 at 9:04

It is dative case.

Possessive pronouns (and articles) take an -m as a dative ending when the word they refer to is masculine or neuter.

Would you like to venture a guess about the grammatical gender of "Frau"? ;)

Canoo.net can give you an overview over German word forms.

share|improve this answer
3  
I'd like to take a guess... um, um, ... it's female, isn't it? –  Em1 Jul 16 '13 at 8:33

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.