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I was doing some dative preposition exercises to familiarize myself with how they use it in german. I came across this sentence

Ich spreche mit meinem Bruder

Why is it "mit meinem" and not "mit meinen"? Ain't I speaking directly to my brother?

PS : Just started learning not too long ago.

  • So some preposition will always follow either dative or accusation? – Mun Wai Mar 22 at 4:21
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    @MunWai Exactly. "mit" is easy to learn. But, for example, why "think about X" means "denken an + Dativ", probably no one can say. – peterh Mar 22 at 5:28
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    »Denken an« takes Akkusativ! – Raketenolli Mar 22 at 7:12
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    "speaking directly to my brother" I think I know what the problem is. I bet someone told you about direct and indirect objects. Please forget this concept! It is misleading. It helps only in 90% of all sentences and is wrong in 10%. In German grammar the terms "direktes Objekt" and "indirektes Objekt" doesn't exists. Take any German grammar book and search for those terms: You won't find them. German has dative object, accusative objects, genitive objects, prepositional objects, and some also use the term "nominative object", but there is no direct object. Please forget it and ignore it. – Hubert Schölnast Mar 22 at 8:03
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    @Raketenolli Well, "Denken an" can take the dative if the thinker was standing on top of the brother... – RedSonja Mar 22 at 9:23
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The components of this sentence are:

  • ich
    subject
    personal pronoun, first person, singular, nominative case

  • spreche
    predicate
    verb (a form of "sprechen"), first person, singular, present tense

  • mit meinem Bruder
    prepositional object


The verb sprechen (to speak, to talk) can have these kinds of objects:

  • accusative object
    What are you speaking? (What is coming out of your mouth when you are speaking?) (Rare: Who are you speaking?)

    Ich spreche deine Sprache. (I speak your language.)
    Ich spreche nur den ersten Satz. (I speak only the first sentence.)
    Ich spreche meinen Bruder.

    The last sentence is rare and can have two meanings:

    1. I will meet my brother and will have a conversation with him. You use this version often with an additional temporal adverb (»Morgen spreche ich meinen Bruder und da werden wir dann die weitere Vorgehensweise klären.« = Tomorrow I will meet my brother and then we will clarify the further course of action.) (This example also shows, that German Präsens can be future tense in English.)
    2. There is an audio drama about my brother, and in this drama I am speaking the role of my brother.
  • prepositional object with "über"
    About who or what are you speaking? (What is the topic of the conversation?)

    Ich spreche über das Wetter. (I talk about the weather.)
    Ich spreche über das Auto. (I talk about the car.)
    Ich spreche über meinen Bruder. (I talk about my brother.)

  • prepositional object with "mit"
    With whom are you talking? (Who is the other participant of the conversation?)

    Ich spreche mit dem Lehrer. (I talk with the teacher.)
    Ich spreche mit der Chefin. (I talk with the boss.)
    Ich spreche mit meinem Bruder. (I talk with my brother.)

Note, that there are also prepositional objects with other predicates and that you also can have more of them in a sentence, like in this example (I put each prepositional object in square brackets):
»Der König spricht [während des Festes] [dank der neuen Technik] [durch ein Megaphon] [zu seinem Volk].« = The king speaks [during the festival] [thanks to the new technique] [through a megaphone] [to his people].


Prepositional objects consists of two parts. The first part is the preposition, and this preposition dictates the grammatical case of the second part:

  • mit (with)
    always needs dative case

    Ich tanze mit meiner Tante (I dance with my aunt.)
    Er hat sie mit einem scharfen Messer erstochen. (He stabbed her with a sharp knife.)
    Er übt mit großer Leidenschaft. (He practices with great passion.)


These are some frequently used prepositions that always need dative:

aus, bei, mit, nach, seit

But there are also prepositions that always need accusative:

durch, für, gegen, ohne, um

Lots of prepositios need genitive case:

dank, trotz, fern, nördlich, während

And there are also prepositions which can go with dative or accusative, depending on the meaning:

auf, in, über, vor, zwischen

(Non of the lists is complete.)

  • I remember in first classes some sports activity to learn the prepositions for dative with a box and thus your list of prepositions would be dative only - as this site suggests I'm wrong :-o learn-german-smarter.com/learn-german-prepositions - so the location meanings goes to dative – Shegit Brahm Mar 22 at 8:15
  • Just read through, thank you for the informative answer! It was of big help! – Mun Wai Mar 22 at 9:59
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    @Shegit Brahm: No. Only for the nine dual-way prepositions dative means location while accusative means direction. For all other prepositions, it's arbitrary. – Janka Mar 22 at 10:18
  • Nice list! The fact that "mit" und "ohne" ("with" and "without") require different grammatical cases can be confusing even for native speakers. – Heinzi Mar 22 at 13:28
  • Just a note that the list of prepositions is not complete (von, gegen, auf ...). – Peter A. Schneider Mar 22 at 15:13

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