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As far as I know, the most common German preposition for "thanks to" is dank + Genitive.

But according to this online dictionary, the preposition dank can equally take the dative case:

dank deiner = thanks to you

and

dank dir = thanks to you

If this is so, are there any differences between the two ways in which dank can be used?

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  • 2
    What does "G" in "dank + G" mean? Please never use abbreviations without explanation! Please edit you post and write the whole word. Jun 28, 2017 at 20:03
  • "dank deiner" is not "thanks to you", it's "because of your", as in "dank deiner Hilfe" being "because of / with your help".
    – Robert
    Jun 28, 2017 at 20:41
  • dank deiner has to be followed by an object to make sense. It's equal to Thanks to your.... Example Dank deiner schnellen Hilfe bin ich jetzt viel früher fertig. You could also say Dank dir bin ich jetzt viel schneller fertig which puts the focus more on the person responsible than on the action.
    – trixn
    Jun 29, 2017 at 13:14
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    @Robert. This is exactly what "thanks to you" means in English. You are constructing a false contrast between German and English usage.
    – fdb
    Jun 29, 2017 at 18:02
  • @fdb Read again. Genitive. I changed the translation just to make it clearer, and because I find it more idiomatic.
    – Robert
    Jun 29, 2017 at 18:41

3 Answers 3

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Actually, dank has always been followed by the dative.

However, there is a general opinion that the genitive is slowly supplanted by the dative. In trying to counteract the demise of the genitive, many people erroneously use it where the dative would have been correct.


Addendum concerning the etymology of "dank":

dank Präp. ‘infolge, wegen’ (Ende 19. Jh.); voraus gehen Verbindungen des Substantivs mit Dativobjekten, Dank (sei) jmdm., einer Sache, die seit dem 18. Jh. ihren parenthetischen Charakter verlieren und zunehmend kausal verwendet werden.
Quelle: „dank“, bereitgestellt durch das Digitale Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, https://www.dwds.de/wb/dank, abgerufen am 20.09.2017.

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  • Hi. Perhaps "trotz" is a good example that can take both the genitive and the dative? Jun 28, 2017 at 11:34
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    @Alone-zee: Actually trotz is the opposite of dank. Trotz for long time only allowed the genitive and now the frowned-upon dative spreads (at least colloquially), whereas bei dank it seems the other way round.
    – guidot
    Jun 28, 2017 at 13:45
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    @guidot Hi. So "trotz allem" and "trotz alledem" are rare exceptions to the rule, then? Jun 28, 2017 at 13:51
  • I tend to disagree with your first sentence. The Duden states otherwise: duden.de/rechtschreibung/dank
    – Chaoskatze
    Sep 20, 2017 at 13:20
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    Okay, thank you for the explanation. I understand your reasoning much better now. Could you add a word or two as to whether there is a difference between those two cases?
    – Chaoskatze
    Sep 20, 2017 at 13:50
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According the Pons dictionary, dank as preposition takes only the dative case but the free dictionary says it takes either the dative or the genitive.

In order to understand this confusion, you can first read this question about the condition of the Genitive case in the German language.

Briefly, I can say that the genitive is not as popular as it used to be. Because of this reason, you can hear / read dank with the dative case almost everywhere in contemporary texts and speeches.

I have always used dank with the dative case. I would also say dank dir.

Some examples of dank with the dative case:

Dank seinem Fleiß hat er die Prüfung bestanden

Das Kind erreichte das Ziel dank seinem Vater

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  • For me, the entry that proposes the genitive after dank in the free dictionary (de.thefreedictionary.com/dank) is invalid. The example sentence "Sie konnte das Problem dank ihrer Erfahrung lösen" can well be interpreted such that dank is followed by the dative. Just replace dank with mit, which is clearly dative, and you will see that it is still "... ihrer Erfahrung ...". Jun 28, 2017 at 14:33
  • @BjörnFriedrich The examples are changed. I hope these new examples are better. Jun 28, 2017 at 17:27
  • What do you mean? There is still the same example sentence as before at de.thefreedictionary.com/dank. Jun 28, 2017 at 17:56
  • @BjörnFriedrich Which one do you mean? I have changed both examples. Jun 28, 2017 at 18:08
  • Zitat: "dạnk Präp; mit Gen/Dat; verwendet, um den Grund für etwas meist Positives einzuleiten ≈ aufgrund: Sie konnte das Problem dank ihrer Erfahrung lösen" Jun 28, 2017 at 18:24
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Firstly, "dank" can be followed by either the dative or the genitive. (See Duden/dank) However, genitive is preferably used when "dank" is followed by a plural.

Dank wissenschaftlichen Fortschritten stieg der Lebensstandard.

is therefore less common than

Dank wissenschaftlicher Fortschritte stieg der Lebensstandard.

As for the question whether there is a difference between those two possibilities: No there is not. The meaning will stay the same.

Your examples are both correct, even though in spoken language the use of genitive may seem highly educated.

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