I saw the statement, "Ich bin auf der Suche nach neuen Serien bei Netflix. Könnt ihr mir welche empfehlen?" I was wondering why "Ihr" was used in the question, shouldn't it have been "Könnten Sie" if she wants to ask people to recommend a new Netflix series to her? Thanks for the help, very much appreciated :)

  • 2
    The dative here is in "mir" and that is ruled from "empfehlen" (jdm. etwas empfehlen)
    – tofro
    Jun 30, 2017 at 14:49

4 Answers 4


Is können a dative verb?

No. "Können" uses an accusative or an infinitive of another verb.

Könnt ihr mir welche empfehlen?

  • "Können" is used with the infinitive of "empfehlen" here.

  • "mir" is the dative object of the verb "empfehlen" (not of the verb "können")

  • "welche" is the accusative object of the verb "empfehlen" (not of the verb "können")

(So "empfehlen" uses both an accusative and a dative object.)

I was wondering why "Ihr" was used in the question, shouldn't it have been "Könnten Sie" ...

As you probably know in German and some other European languages there are two forms of saying "you": One form for people you know well (such as friends, family members, ...) and one form for people you don't know well (or you have only bussiness contacts).

So you have three different words for "you" in German language:

  • "du": A single person from your family, a friend, a child or (in some situations) a "higher rank" person talking to a "lower rank" person (e.g. in the army). In most internet forums people are also use "du" when talking to other users.
  • "ihr": Multiple persons you would call "du"
  • "Sie": One or more persons not belonging to these groups (unlike Spanish German does not distinguish between a single and multiple persons in this case)

So when talking to persons not belonging to one of the groups you address with the word "du" you would indeed say:

Können Sie mir welche empfehlen?

... or even more polite:

Könnten Sie mir welche empfehlen?


The word ihr can both be the Nominatve of ihr, the 2nd Person Pl. pronoun, and the Dative of sie, the 3rd Person Sg. pronoun. It can also be either the 3rd Person Sg. or Pl. (or the formal 2nd Person) possessive pronoun. Thus it can appear in the following sentences:

Ihr empfehlt mir einen Film. (You recommend a movie to me.)

Ich empfehle ihr einen Film. (I recommend a movie to her.)

Das ist ihr Film. (That's her movie or That's their movie.)

Das ist Ihr Film. (That's your movie) (Formal, either Sg. or Pl.)

The Dative of the formal 2nd Person pronoun Sie would be Ihnen:

Ich empfehle Ihnen diesen Film.

In your example, the user simply wanted to be informal (as is usual on the internet) and didn't use the formal 2nd Person Plural (Sie) but the informal one (ihr). So no, this is not a dative licensed by könnten but just the normal nominative.


"ihr" can be roughly translated as "you all"; it is the plural form of "du".

So "Könnt ihr" implies that you are speaking informally to a group of people, rather than to a single person. In this case "Could you guys recommend one to me?"

In accusative and dative, ihr becomes "euch". The usage in your example sentence is in the nominative case.


Since ihr (and Sie in your version) is the subject, the question whether können is a dative verb is off the mark, as that would apply to objects.

Könnt ihr

is second person plural, present tense, indicative mood, while

Könnten sie

is third person plural, and the mood is Konjunktiv II.

Könnten Sie

is the same form, but used as a polite address to one or several persons. The choice of Konjunktiv II can also be to make it more polite.

In short: Könnt ihr addresses more than one person using the normal or colloquial form of address.

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