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I'm slightly stuck with the sentence

Ich bringe meine Kinder in den Kindergarten

with regards to the article "den".

I know it is the accusative for the masculine article, but I thought the verb "bringen" is received by the children, so the children are the direct object, not the school.

Reading the following article gave me this information

There are also many verbs that accept both cases. But it is easy to distinguish which object is in accusative and which is in dative case: the person is always the dative and the other “thing” is the accusative...
Verbs: geben ... bringen ...

but still didn't get me any closer to the final answer.

Can someone help clarify this issue please?

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    When a preposition such as "in" is closer to a noun phrase than the governing verb, then the preposition gets to determine the case, not the verb. And directional "in" takes the accusative. – Kilian Foth Jan 15 at 7:27
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Don't think in direct and indirect objects when it comes to German. Those categories do not apply and rules you know from English will only confuse you.

In the sentence

Ich bringe meine Kinder in den Kindergarten.

the part in den Kindergarten is an adverbial of direction. The verb bringen takes a mandatory accusative object (the thing brought) and an optional dative object (the receiver).

The preposition in may take either a dative supplement, then in forms an adverbial or prepositional object of place, or it takes an accusative supplement, then it forms an adverbial or prepositional object of direction.

There are also some prepositions as wegen, which take the genitive. Wegen for example forms an adverbial of reason then.


Uh, and that article is wrong about … the person is always the dative …. A counter example, using bringen:

Der Wachtmeister bringt dem Gericht den Gefangenen.

The sergant brings the convict to the court. (The court not as a place, but as a receiver.)

Ich bringe dem Kindergarten meine Kinder.

I bring my children to the kindergarden. (Again, the kindergarten as a receiver rather than a place, which makes this sentence an eerie picture of little sacrificial lambs doomed to kindergarden hell.)

With most verbs and most times, the dative object is the receiver of the accusative object.

Also, there are about ten verbs —plus some prefixed derivatives—, including e.g. lehren, which take two accusative objects. There are two dozen common verbs which take a genitive object or accusative+genitive object and there are also a few verbs, e.g. sein and bleiben, which take the nominative!

So, forget that article altogether and get your hands on a decent German grammar book.

  • Do you have any good suggestions for a decent German grammar book? Plus thanks for a great and thorough answer! – vik1245 Jan 15 at 9:41
  • Hammer's German Grammar. – Janka Jan 15 at 18:42
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Um ... that rule you quoted applies to objects, objects only. It's correct, and somewhat awkward, too! :-))

Ich gebe ihm (the person -> Dativ) meinen Schlüssel (the thing - Akkusativ).

Your Kinder-Kindergarten-sentence, however, does not contain two objects. Have a look!

Ich bringe ... wen oder was? "the 'other' thing" -> Akkusativ: die Kinder ...

Wechselpräposition + wohin? -> Akkusativ: -> ... in den Kindergarten.

See that in den Kindergarten is a prepositional phrase, not an object? Not even a prepositional object? Great! :-)

  • If you had read the page the quotation was taken from, you would have seen that the following verbs are being named: geben, schicken/senden, bringen, kaufen, schenken, leihen, sagen, erklären, erzählen, zeigen. If you use THESE verbs, the rule proves to be correct. No. 1. No. 2: Janka's sentence may be I don't know what, but it's not German. Der Wachtmeister ÜBERSTELLT den Gefangenen dem Gericht - THAT's the correct verb. Whereas the 'Wachtmeister' and the 'Gefangene' are relicts from Noah's ark. Today we talk of 'Polizisten', 'Untersuchungshäftlingen' and 'Beklagten'. At least in Germany. – multiplex et liber Jan 17 at 9:54
  • If you disagree with @Janka 's answer it would make more sense to comment there rather than here – PiedPiper Jan 17 at 12:24
  • It's not clear (either in the excerpt posted in the question or at the link) that the rule is only intended to apply to the listed verbs. But I do agree that it's hard to find a good counterexample for those verbs. "Ich bringe dem Kindergarten meine Kinder" is a counterexample but unfortunately not good – PiedPiper Jan 17 at 12:29

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