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How do you differentiate between the cases? The direct objects are obvious, however switching between them mid-sentence is quite confusing. How do you know when to use the genitive different from the dative or the nominative? What are the indicators that a specific case is needed and how do you know when the case is being used by others?

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    Could you be more specific, preferably with examples, about the kind of thing that's confusing you? We can't put everything you need to know about cases starting from scratch in a single answer. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by direct objects switching in mid-sentence. – RDBury Oct 6 at 3:32
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    Even if your native language might only distinguish between direct and indirect objects, it's supposedly better to learn to think in accusative, dative and genitive (sometimes maybe even nominative) objects in German right from the beginning. As soon as sentences reach only mediocre complexity, the direct/indirect object distinction tends to cause more confusion than do good in German. – tofro Oct 6 at 8:13
  • @tofro -- Thank you; your comment needs to be in an FAQ somewhere. This direct/indirect object idea may work in English, but students of German need to forget it. I think valence theory comes closer but even then some allowances have to be made for German. – RDBury Oct 6 at 22:51
  • Far, far ago, even English had cases. I suggest to check old English texts where they are used. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Oct 10 at 11:47
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The genitive is used to denote possesion. "Der Vater des Kindes" translates to "The father of the child".

Dative can be triggered by certain verbs which you'll probably just have to memorize. Additionally, it denotes when something is done "for" or "to" someone. "Ich schicke ihm den Brief". "ihm" being the dative case (sending the letter "to him").

Also "den Brief" takes the accusative because it is receiving the action, i.e. it is the object being "sent", although I think you said you understand that part.

Hope this helps!

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