In the sentence, "Woher hat sie die Schuhe?" which means "Where does she have the shoes from?", shouldn't the pronoun sie take the dative case? As Die Schuhe is the direct object, it is taking the Accusative case. The dative case of the pronoun she is ihr in German; therefore, wouldn't the correct sentence will be "Woher hast ihr die Schuhe?"

I got this example from here.

I am still a student in the German language, therefore, I know that I am wrong with my idea, but I want to understand the reason behind it.

1 Answer 1


Your analysis is wrong in multiple respects.

First of all the sentence should read

Woher hat sie die Schuhe?
(hast is 2nd person singular)

The terms direct and indirect object are sometimes used to make explanations for English natives easier to understand. But in fact there is nothing like direct and indirect object in German.

But let's have a look at your sentence:

If you turn the question

Woher hat sie die Schuhe?

into a statement

Sie hat die Schuhe (von ihrer Schwester).

you see clearly that

  • Sie is the subject
  • die Schuhe is one object
  • (von ihrer Schwester) is another object

The subject is always in nomative case. So sie is right.

Die Schuhe is in accusative case and here it wouldn't be totally wrong to compare it to the English direct object.

And finally there is another object (dative case) and that's exactly what the question is asking for.

Woher asks for something in dative case.

Regarding the title of your question: In German there is no way to indentify the case of an object by its position in the sentence.

  • Thanks a lot. The "hast" spelling was a mistake by my side, it was a typo that I forgot the correct. I understand now, thanks.
    – Momobear
    Aug 27, 2021 at 4:14
  • 1
    To me, it's better to just dispense with the English-centric "direct object" and "indirect object" altogether and use different terminology for German. I prefer "accusative object" and "dative object". Otherwise it's hopeless trying to understand the structure of even simple sentences such as Mir ist heiß and Die Schuhe gefallen mir.
    – RDBury
    Aug 27, 2021 at 8:22
  • I think it should be "So sie is right." instead of she. Maybe it's worth to mention that she is the subject also in the English translation .
    – Bodo
    Aug 27, 2021 at 13:34
  • @Bodo You're right of course. Thanks.
    – Olafant
    Aug 27, 2021 at 14:55
  • I don’t know much grammar, but I don’t think that it is good to call an object (is it even an object?) with a preposition (‘von’) a dative object.
    – Carsten S
    Aug 27, 2021 at 20:47

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