Why do we use the accusative "ihn" in the following sentence:

Sie machen ihn wütend.

But the dative "ihm" in the following?

Sie machen ihm Angst.


1 Answer 1


In the first sentence, "wütend" is an adjective. This is similar to the English construction "she makes him angry," where both "ihn" and "him" are in the accusative case as direct objects.

In the second sentence, "Angst" is a noun. A near-literal equivalent in English would be "she gives fear to him," where both "ihm" and "to him" are in the dative case as indirect objects, and the direct objects are "Angst" and "fear."

Here are other examples with the dative:

  • ich habe mir eine Tasse Kaffee gemacht
  • jemandem Arbeit machen
  • jemandem Sorgen, Freude machen

And with the accusative:

  • etwas neu, größer machen
  • jemanden neugierig machen
  • du hast dich unbeliebt gemacht
  • man hatte ihn betrunken gemacht

See the Duden entry for machen

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