How to identify accusative and dative cases with personal pronouns? For example:

Fährst du wirklich im Juli mit ihm nach Griechenland?

In this case I find it easy because mit goes always with dative but in the other cases how do I know?

Habt ihr Lust auf nette Leute und gute Musik? Wir nehmen euch (acc/dat?) gerne mit zur Party.

  • 3
    There is no difference in case usage between personal pronouns and nouns; it is mit ihm (dative) and mit meinem Sohn (dative), and euch mitnehmen (accusative) and ihre Nachbarn mitnehmen (accusative). So, what is your question?
    – chirlu
    Sep 6, 2015 at 19:08
  • @chirlu, Hans has interpreted the question in an interesting way. If he is correct then your edit has changed the question. Daniel, are you a native speaker? Can you clarify your question? Why did you write "ihn"?
    – Carsten S
    Sep 7, 2015 at 8:51
  • @Carsten S: Everything is possible. I'll leave it to those who voted not unclear to sort out.
    – chirlu
    Sep 7, 2015 at 9:26
  • 1
    @Carsten S: I actually meant "selected Leave Open in the close vote review queue", but was too lazy to write that. ;-)
    – chirlu
    Sep 7, 2015 at 9:59
  • 1
    @Karl Wenn der Fragesteller dort wirklich ihn gemeint hat, dann benötigt das eine Begründung. Denn der Satz existiert mit ihn nicht. Bevor ich versuche, eine kryptische Scheinbedeutung in etwas hineinzulesen, was grammatikalisch erst einmal falsch ist, bessere ich es aus. (Auch wenn ich nicht editiert hab.)
    – Jan
    Sep 13, 2015 at 19:49

3 Answers 3


Your question is unclear because it seems to assume that ihm is ambiguous as to case in the same way that euch is. But it isn't. Accusative and dative of er are still distinguishable in standard German: ihn vs. ihm. (In many dialects this is no longer the case.)

The case system very often provides redundant information. This is one reason why it's generally in a process of dissolution. (In a few dialects there are opposite tendencies.) It doesn't exist because it was ever needed. It exists because it evolved out of postpositions. Postpositions are like prepositions except they are placed after the noun they refer to. They must have been standard once in the evolution of Indo-European, but nowadays we have only a few. (E.g. in English: ago, aside, notwithstanding. In German: zufolge, halber.)

In the same way that the Indo-European case system with suffixes once evolved out of postpositions, English and French are probably in the process of developing case systems with prefixes right now, out of the prepositions to/à and of/de and possibly some others. In the case of French de, the process of merging with the following word has already started (d' before vowels).

Naming the case of a part of speech in a given sentence is not a natural task, so it's not something native speakers are particularly good at. This is why we need the trick described by Daniel B.

The distinction of ihn and ihm is occasionally relevant. E.g. consider the sentences "Gib den Ball dem Hund", which in context may be shortened to "Gib ihn ihm". Colloquially, someone might actually form the ellipsis "Gib ihn" or "Gib ihm", stressing either what is to be given or the recipient. (Note that for some reason nobody says "Gib ihm ihn", even though "Gib dem Hund den Ball" is actually more common. Just like "Give it him" is normal in English was still normal in Dickens's time and "Give him it" isn't. wasn't.)

It is much harder to come up with a parallel example involving the sequence of words euch [accusative] euch [dative], so in practice it really doesn't matter that accusative and dative are not distinguishable for the second person plural pronouns.

  • 1
    I contest your assumption that ‘Gib ihm ihn.’ do not exist. I find it natural enough although introduces emphasis on the ihm. At the same time, ‘Give it him’ is not a sentence without to.
    – Jan
    Sep 13, 2015 at 19:46
  • "Give it him" is of course antiquated, but since it appeared in 19th century parliamentary records and before that many of the best English authors used it, I don't think we should consider it wrong yet. - But normal it isn't any more. True!
    – user2183
    Sep 13, 2015 at 19:54
  • For me, "Gib ihm ihn" only works with extreme emphasis on ihm. Note that I didn't actually claim it's ungrammatical. I just said that for some reason nobody says it. And I would actually include the version with stress on ihm, since even in that form it seems obsolete to me.
    – user2183
    Sep 13, 2015 at 19:57

So the rule that works for me is that the Dativ case usually is applied with referring to a location

ich bin in der Stadt.

ich reite auf dem Pferd.

or the destination of a movement

ich gebe ihm das Brot.

sie schickt mir eine Nachricht.

Akkusativ usually refers to the object of a sentence when it is not preceded by a dativ preposition (e.g. zu, mit, etc.) and does not fulfill the first rule of dative referring to the position of an object at rest or a destination of an object in movement.

  • Hi and welcome to German Language Stack Exchange. Feel free to take a tour of the site and visit the help center for questions about it. While your answer is correct, I don’t know if it will help the OP, because OP explicitly asked for distinctions when using pronouns …
    – Jan
    Oct 3, 2015 at 15:14
  • Thanks for the response. Doesn't this rule also apply to personal pronouns? Oct 4, 2015 at 10:08

Wenn Du fragen kannst:

Wen (oder was) nehmen wir gerne mit zur Party?

dann ist es Akkusativ.

Dativ erfragt man mit "Wem", also "Wem bringen wir etwas mit zur Party? Dem Gastgeber."


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