I've read this in a reply to a mail:

Danke der Nachfrage!

Why is der there and why is not für die Nachfrage instead? And is it genitive or dative? (My only guess is that we are omitting a preposition, but I've never seen that in German).

  • 3
    In an answer to a related question, I already addressed your question.
    – Em1
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 16:02
  • @Em1 I think it would be a shame to close as duplicate with so little in common in the original question. You want to write an answer?
    – Vogel612
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 17:35
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    Funny enough, right now you've got two correct answers and two wrong answers but only four people considered the question an upvote worth. :)
    – Em1
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 6:43
  • Is by any chance the writer located not too far from the French border? Commented May 12, 2014 at 8:00
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    If it is dative (or today perceied as dative) it must be interpreted as pars per toto, i.e. the Nachfrage represents the person posing the Nachfrage. Personally, I feel this rather to be a genitive, but have nothing to support this, so leave it at thi comment. Commented May 13, 2014 at 21:55

6 Answers 6


Wie schon anderswo erklärt, kann „danken“ ein Dativ- und ein Akkusativobjekt haben, um auszudrücken, wem und wofür gedankt wird. Dort wo wir heute den Akkusativ benutzen, wurde laut Grimm (Punkt 3) im Mittelhochdeutschen und noch darüber hinaus bis ins 16. Jahrhundert der Genitiv verwandt. Dies scheint sich in der Wendung „Danke der Nachfrage“ erhalten zu haben.

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    I apologize for answering in German, I didn't notice.
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 13:52
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    This is etymologically incorrect, and the reference you give says no such thing. If you actually read Grimm, you'll find that in older German, the person who was owed thanks was preferentially expressed in the Dative, as is done today. The event or entity over which thanks were owed was expressed in the Genitive (as in OP's example), and for which nowadays a prepositional phrase is preferentially employed. The Grimms report that a recent and rare development in New High German times was coding the entity over which thanks was owed beginning to allow the accusative.
    – jona
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 11:14
  • @jona, why do you say "the reference you give says no such thing"? What you correctly summarize does not really contradict chat Carsten wrote, unless you are referring to some particular aspect which I missed. Commented May 13, 2014 at 12:17
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    @jona, you are right that a prepositional phrase is preferred over an accusative object. In which way does this invalidate the argument?
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 12:20
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    Carten wrote "wo wir heute den Akkusativ benutzen, wurde laut Grimm (Punkt 3) im Mittelhochdeutschen und noch darüber hinaus bis ins 16. Jahrhundert der Genitiv verwandt.". Grimm: "bei dieser bedeutung von danken erlauben sich einige seit dem 17ten jahrh. den acc." And that is the only mention of accusative case in the entry to "danken" linked to by Carsten.
    – jona
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 12:37

It is genitive, a verbal phrase and a ellipsis. The full sentence (with subject) is

Ich danke der Nachfrage

ich Subject
danke Prädikat
der Nachfrage Genitivobjekt

And here is the Word "danke" asking for the genitive. This is oldstyle grammar, and "Danke der Nachfrage" ist the only case where genitive comes after "danke".

  • 3
    It's not a genitive, it's a dative: cf. duden.de/rechtschreibung/danken
    – user6081
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 20:39
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    @Livius The Duden page you linked to doesn't give any hint on whether it's genitive or dative.
    – Em1
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 6:39
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    Maybe you meant ellipsis instead of hyperbole?
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 7:34
  • 1
    @CarstenSchultz You are right, it is an ellipsis. I corrected it. Commented May 14, 2014 at 15:39
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    I get confused. Is "der Nachfrage" in this sentence has the same case as "Ihnen" in "Ich danke Ihnen"? If so, it should be dative, right? Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 13:34

As already pointed out by others, it is a Genitivobjekt. Even native speakers have a hard time with it, because genitive objects are very rare, and mostly used in the gehobene Sprache.

A native speaker would check by replacing the feminine word with a masculine one:

Danke des Briefes

which is correct (although it's perceived as wrong by many native speakers nowadays, see below)

You could also say:

Ich danke Ihnen der Nachfrage

which of course cannot have two dative objects, thus confirming that der Nachfrage is genitive.

Other languages have the same construct. E.g., thank you for the flowers is merci des fleurs in French and grazie dei fiori in Italian.


It looks like I perceive the above German sentences as correct more than the average German speaker. This may be due to the fact that I'm also a native Italian speaker.

It also looks like the genitive object with danken ceased to be common a few centuries ago, and barely survived, hiding in phrases like the one that rightly puzzled you (see the answer by Carsten Schultz). Here is an example of its usage in the old times (end of the 15th century).


The most complete equivalent sentence would be:

Ich danke Ihnen wegen der Nachfrage

which sheds some light, I think, on the origin of the genitive.


It looks like many Germans really perceive Danke der Nachfrage as meaning Thanks to the enquiry, as if, in this case, it were correct to replace a human recipient with the inanimate enquiry. Of course, for these people my first two examples are incorrect. Upvotes and downvotes in this forum are not a good measure for average German, unfortunately, and I wouldn't know how to quantify the different grammatical feelings about this phrase.

EDIT 4 (and hopefully last)

It would be unfair and confusing to rewrite my answer, but...

My test sentence for native German speakers should have been:

Danke der Nachfragen

Judging by votes and commentaries, people here (who on average are more competent than the average German speaker), consider it more correct than

Danke den Nachfragen

which might or might not be considered the correct form by the majority of speakers if they had to choose, but we have no way of finding out. (Anyone here can arrange their little poll, though!)

And to answer your first question: Danke für die Nachfrage would certainly be preferred today, but business letter language evolves definitely more slowly than spoken language, to the point that, as in this case, people sometimes write things they don't really know the meaning of...

  • That would be convincing if the two sentences felt right. Can you give examples in literature?
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 6:55
  • @CarstenSchultz: not easy, but here is one and here another Commented May 12, 2014 at 7:11
  • The first example is good, the second is accusative.
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 7:14
  • @CarstenSchultz: Ooops, you are almost right, in my understanding the second is nominative. I have been overhasty. Commented May 12, 2014 at 7:18

I perceive it to be Dative. Also, I think the "danke" is not thought of as a verb but as the plain thanks (which of course comes from the verb but it doesn't feel like a verb anymore)


The "Nachfrage" is what the "thanks" is directed to... of course it is directed to the listener but "Nachfrage" is the cause, the trigger. I would say a proper long version (based on grammatical feel) is:

Das "Danke" gilt der Nachfrage.

  • 1
    Emanuel's last sentence hits the nail on the head pretty much in my opinion. Commented May 11, 2014 at 22:36
  • So you would say that the sentence "ich danke den Käufern der Nachfrage" (by @Takkat) has two Dativobjekte? Commented May 11, 2014 at 22:37
  • @WalterTross... I would say that that sentence is not possible... I mean, it probably grammatically correct and it may be that back a few centuries this was Genitive but I doubt anyone would understand that sentence today. I wouldn't. Maybe the origin is Genitive, I justed wanted to say which case I "feel"
    – Emanuel
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 22:57
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    I would say a proper long version (based on my personal grammatical feel) is: "Danke wegen der Nachfrage" Commented May 12, 2014 at 10:15
  • @WalterTross... I can imagine that, too. Does the "danke" feel like a shortened "ich danke" to you, though?
    – Emanuel
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 10:19

DWDS gibt bei Eingabe von danken im ersten Kasten links an

  • danke der Nachfrage, mit Genitiv


Man beachte die Kleinschreibung von "danke". Das dürfte ein Indiz dafür sein, dass es sich um ein elliptisches "ich danke" handelt und nicht um das Substantiv Dank.

Im ersten Kasten rechts (Etymologisches Wörterbuch von Pfeifer) findet sich die Information: jemandem danken für etwas (die Angabe wofür ursprünglich im Genitiv).

  • Dass der Eintrag unter dem Verb danken steht, halte ich für zwingender als die Kleinschreibung, die auch noch viele weitere Möglichkeiten offen lässt. Interessant: trotz des Genitivs wird der Ausdruck als umgangssprachlich klassifiziert.
    – guidot
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 12:17

Ich danke Dir für die Nachfrage.
Ich danke Dir für Deine Nachfrage.
Danke Deiner Nachfrage.
Dank Deiner Nachfrage musste ich gestern Überstunden schieben, um die Antwort zu finden.
Dank der Nachfrage von Dir musste ich …

Genitiv. Dank wessen Nachfrage? Dank Deiner Nachfrage. Dank der Nachfrage von Dir.

Danke der Nachfrage – von Dir / Ihnen. Sie hat mich auf eine neue Idee gebracht.

  • Achtung, Satire: Sinnloser Beitrag. Der Beitrag ist sinnlos. Genitiv. Wessen Beitrag? Dein Beitrag. Der Beitrag von dir. Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 8:54

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