Could somebody explain the meanings and the usage of ihm in the following sentences.

Tock! Mit einem harten Schlag fällt ihm das Buch auf den Kopf.

Ihm ist, als könne er es jetzt noch spüren.

Mit einem schönen Lächeln küsst ihm die Frau auf den Kopf. Now I used it with küssen instead of fallen. So I can use this structure with any verb or with some particular verbs only?


1 Answer 1


"fällt ihm das Buch auf den Kopf" means the book falls on his head, or the book hits him on the head. "ihm" just clarifies who gets hit. If you just say "das Buch fällt auf den Kopf" it could be misunderstood as the book having a head.

You could also say "das Buch fällt auf seinen Kopf", but "fällt ihm auf den Kopf" is more idiomatic.

"Ihm ist" is a (for my taste slightly dated) way of saying "he feels like". You can hear it today in phrases like "Mir ist nicht gut" or "Mir ist schlecht" (I don't feel well). "Ihm ist zum Heulen zumute" -- he could cry.

A far as küssen vs fallen: you can say "sie küsst ihm auf den Kopf", but it sounds awkward. "Sie küsst ihn auf den Kopf" is more natural for me as a native speaker. Different verbs take different prepositions and cases, so you cannot really compare küssen und fallen here.

  • 1
    Thank you for the reply. One could say " mit einem harten Schlag fällt das Buch auf seinen Kopf? I thought it was Accusative. When one is using dative ihm instead of accusative, what does it feel like? Does it have any equivalent in English?
    – user22276
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 21:05
  • When you ask "how does it feel like?" I'm tempted to say "It hurts. How much, depends on the size of the book"
    – tofro
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 6:23
  • :-) In your first eidit you have already answered to my question about the feel of the sentence by saying, "This is more idiomatic".... I thought maybe that was only narrative writing style in order to tell a story, and probably one would not use it in a Colloquial and Routine way. Are you a native German speaker?
    – user22276
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 12:50

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