I have learnt that "If there is more than one object in the sentence, the reflexive pronoun is used in the dative case."

So why in the following sentence is the relexive pronoun in the accusative case?

Ich bewerbe mich um eine Arbeitsstelle.

  • That rule is at best a heuristic. It will often fail, for instance for verbs that take two accusatives. You really must learn the subcategorization patterns of German verbs, they are just as important as the inflection patterns. Jan 14, 2020 at 7:37

1 Answer 1


I suppose you mean something like:

sich gönnen (reflexive verb), plus an object: sich eine Banane gönnen (Banane is Akkusativ) -->

Ich werde mir eine Banane gönnen.

where mir is Dativ. Right?

Your sample sentence doesn't work like that because sich bewerben does not allow for an accusative object, it uses a prepositional object instead. That the preposition um then asks for accusative is just a coincidence.

Similar to your sample: Sich begeben -->

sich auf den Marktplatz begeben

Ich begebe mich (! Akk) auf den Marktplatz (! also Akk)

where Marktplatz is accusative, but it is accusative because auf asks for accusative. Sich begeben does not allow for an accusative object and the reflexive pronoun can therefore use that case.

So it seems your rule is correct, but it applies only to verbs that genuinely can have an accusative object (not prepositional object with a preposition that requires accusative)

Collection of verbs where your rule would apply:

  • sich etwas gönnen - Ich gönne mir eine Pause.
  • sich etwas setzen - Ich setze mir einen Schuss (means heroin)
  • sich etwas abverlangen - Ich verlange mir hohe Leistung ab.
  • sich etwas beiseitelegen - Ich lege mir 500 Euro beiseite.
  • sich etwas hinlegen - Ich lege mir einen Teppich hin. - Do not confuse with Ich lege mich etwas hin (I will lay down a bit).
  • sich etwas kaufen - Ich kaufe mir einen Tirolerhut.

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