The dative case is the case of the indirect object. The indirect object is the person or thing "to whom?" or "for whom?" an action is done. Thus, to figure out which part of a sentence is the indirect object, ask the question: "To whom or for whom". (If you're having problems with such 'questions', review the nominative).

In English, you oftentimes (but not always) use the prepositions 'to' or 'for' to indicate such an indirect object.


I'm buying my girl-friend a bottle of ketchup.
I'm buying a bottle of ketchup for my girl-friend.

Both sentences mean the same.
In German, the indirect object is always expressed by the dative case, never with 'to' or 'for'.

Look at the sentence elements to help you figure out their cases:

I'm buying my girl-friend a bottle of ketchup. = Ich kaufe meiner Freundin eine Flasche Ketchup.

Ich is the subject. (Who or what is buying the ketchup?)

Meiner Freundin is the indirect object. (I am buying the ketchup for whom?)

Ich gebe meinem Partner Blumen.
I'm giving my partner flowers. OR: I'm giving flowers to my partner.

Mein Partner gibt mir auch Blumen.
My partner is also giving me flowers. OR: My partner is also giving flowers to me.

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