• Schmecken is dative verb.
  • Drohen is dative verb.

But why?

  • Ich schmecke den Fish.
  • Es droht die Ernte.

Here it is akkusative?

  • 6
    I’m not sure you fully understand what dative verb means and I’m not sure you’re applying that definition correctly to etw. schmecken or jdm etw. (an)drohen.
    – Jan
    Dec 12, 2018 at 4:01
  • These example sentences are a bit odd. Where did you find them?
    – Arsak
    Dec 12, 2018 at 7:27
  • »Es droht die Ernte« = "The harvest threatens" - This doesn't make much sense to me. Btw: In this sentence there is no accusative case, just two times nominative case. Dec 12, 2018 at 7:52
  • 1
    @HubertSchölnast I would like to liken it to ‘Es droht Arbeit’ ;-). But I will also note that the es doesn’t have to be considered nominative—or anything else for that matter. It may be a philosophical question if the expletive has a case at all.
    – Jan
    Dec 12, 2018 at 8:22
  • @HubertSchölnast Man könnte auch "Es droht ein Gewitter" sagen. Dec 12, 2018 at 8:45

2 Answers 2


As for drohen: You don't specify an object in your example, that's why there's nothing in Dative case here. Dative verb means, that the object is in dative case.

A full example would be:

Die Ernte droht (den Bauern <- object in Dative Plural case)

Es droht die Ernte is the same thing as Die Ernte droht, just a different word order. That's why you need to additional "Es" in the beginning of the sentence.

As for schmecken: There are two different constructions here. One is "Etwas (Nominative) schmeckt jemandem (Dative)". Again, the object is in Dative case.

Das Essen schmeckt mir
Das Eis schmeckt dem Kind

Then, there's also the construction "etwas schmecken" (to taste something), where the object is actually in Accusative case.

Ich schmecke einen Hauch von Zimt
Ich schmecke nichts, weil ich erkältet bin

So in the end you're just mixing up different constructions ;-) This can lead to funny misunderstandings. For example, the following sentences do not mean the same thing:

Ich schmecke dem Löwen (Dat. Sing) - the lion eats you and likes the taste
Ich schmecke den Löwen (Dat. Plur) - the pack of lions eats you and they like the taste
Ich schmecke den Löwen (Akk. Sing) - you're tasting a lion (how?)

  • 1
    You gotta lick it.
    – tofro
    Dec 12, 2018 at 9:08
  • 1
    @tofro First I had written "you're licking a lion", but I quickly changed it... :'-D Dec 12, 2018 at 9:14

Thorsten's answer is good, but I want to show you a simple way how to tell when a verb needs a dative object and when not. It matches a lot of those "dative verbs", so you can concentrate on learning the few exceptions.

  • Most times, the dative object is the receiver of the result of an action.

If the action involves a thing which is passed, that thing is the accusative object.

Ich gebe dir den Koffer.

Here, dir is the receiver of the passed accusative object den Koffer.

But there are a lot of verbs which include the thing passed implicitly. Drohen is such a verb.

Er ist zu schnell gefahren. Ihm droht nun ein Bußgeld.

It's die Drohung of the fine which is passed to him.

The verb schmecken is a bit more complicated, because it's actually two verbs:

Ich schmecke das Bier. Ich trinke das Bier.

Here, I perform the action of schmecken on the beer. So the beer is an accusative object. Same as with trinken.

Das Bier schmeckt mir.

Here, the beer performs an action on me! It passes the Geschmack included in the action schmecken.

It's not a 100% rule, but at least 80% and should help you identify those "dative verbs" and their use.

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