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Dative case

Grammatical cases
List of grammatical cases
Abessive case
Ablative case
Absolutive case
Adessive case
Allative case
Causal case
Causal-final case
Comitative case
Dative case
Dedative case
Delative case
Disjunctive case
Distributive case
Distributive-temporal case
Elative case
Essive case
Essive-formal case
Essive-modal case
Excessive case
Final case
Formal case
Genitive case
Illative case
Inessive case
Instructive case
Instrumental case
Lative case
Locative case
Modal case
Multiplicative case
Oblique case
Objective case
Partitive case
Possessive case
Postpositional case
Prepositional case
Prolative case
Prosecutive case
Separative case
Sociative case
Sublative case
Superessive case
Temporal case
Terminative case
Translative case
Vialis case
Vocative case
Morphosyntactic alignment
Absolutive case
Accusative case
Ergative case
Instrumental case
Instrumental-comitative case
Intransitive case
Nominative case
Declension in English

The dative case is a grammatical case for nouns and/or pronouns. The dative generally marks the indirect object of a verb. Other uses include possession, as in Vulgar Latin and, to a lesser extent, Classical Latin; also, in Classical Greek, which has lost the locative and instrumental cases, the dative assumes these functions. In Scottish Gaelic, the dative case is used by nouns following simple prepositions and the definite article.

The dative was common among early Indo-European languages and has survived to the present in the Balto-Slavic branch and the Germanic branch, among others. It also exists in similar forms in several non–Indo-European languagues, such as the Finno-Ugric family of languages, Navajo, and Japanese.

Languages that use or used the dative case include:

The dative case in English

As seen in the list above, Old English had a dative case; however, the case system gradually fell into disuse during the Middle English period, when the accusative and dative pronouns merged into a single objective pronoun used in both roles. This merging of accusative and dative functionality in Middle and Modern English has led most modern grammarians to discard the "accusative" and "dative" labels in English in favor of the term "objective".

While the dative case is no longer a part of modern English usage, it survives in a few set expressions. One good example is the word "methinks", with the meaning "it seems to me". It survives in this fixed form from the days of Old English (having undergone, however, phonetical changes with the rest of the language), in which it was constructed as "me" (the dative case of the personal pronoun) + "thinks" ("to seem", a verb closely related to the verb "to think", but distinct from it in Old English; later it merged with "to think" and lost this meaning).

The pronoun whom is also a remnant of the dative case in English, descending from the Old English dative pronoun "hwām" (as opposed to the nominative "who", which descends from Old English "hwā") — though "whom" also absorbed the functions of the Old English accusative pronoun "hwone". Likewise, "him" is a remnant of both the Old English dative "him" and accusative "hine", "her" serves for both Old English dative "hire" and accusative "hīe", etc.

In current English usage, the indirect object of an action is sometimes expressed with a prepositional phrase of "to" or "for", though an objective pronoun can also be placed directly after the main verb and used in a dative manner, provided that the verb has a direct object as well; for example, "He gave that to me" can also be phrased as "He gave me that", and "He built a snowman for me" can also be rendered as "He built me a snowman". In both examples, the generic objective pronoun "me" functions as a dative pronoun does in languages which still retain distinct accusative and dative cases.

See also: Declension in English

Last updated: 02-08-2005 14:34:03
Last updated: 02-11-2005 17:47:38