Why is dative in this sentence being used here?

Dort saßen bereits fünf Jungs auf abgewetzten Sofas, alle barfuß und in kurzen Hosen. Drei von ihnen hatten Gitarren auf dem Schoß, aber nur einer spielte.

I thought that with »haben« one would use accusative.

  • Noun declension table.
    – Dan
    Oct 12, 2019 at 5:40
  • Feminine plural column, to be exact.
    – Dan
    Oct 12, 2019 at 5:54
  • Not everything that governs a case is a verb. The "dem" belongs to "Schoß", which is governed by "auf", which is a preposition. "haben" doesn't enter into it. Oct 12, 2019 at 10:32

2 Answers 2


Let's analyze that sentence.

Drei von ihnen hatten Gitarren auf dem Schoß.

  • Drei von ihnen – topic, subject, nominative, including a preposition+dative determiner von ihnen
  • hatten – finite verb, preterite 3rd person plural of haben
  • Gitarren – accusative object to haben
  • auf dem Schoß – adverbial of place, preposition+dative

What dative? "Gitarren" as the object of "hatten" is accusative.

  • Please visit the help center, so you are informed and can profit the community more and profit from it, too.
    – Dan
    Oct 12, 2019 at 6:30

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.