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German Preposition Cases, Part II

This week we're going to continue to go through cases used with German prepositions. If you are an advanced German speaker, this will be nothing new for you, but will hopefully be helpful for beginners as a learning tool and for intermediate German speakers as a refresher. Nouns, pronouns, and adjectives that are modified by prepositions take either the accusative, dative, or genitive case, but to make things slightly confusing, some prepositions require either the accusative or dative case, depending upon the context. In Part II today, let's examine the prepositions that always require the dative case for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives. 


Let's start out by taking a look at the dative case for nouns as follows for the definite article "the," with the nominative case followed by the dative case: 


der => dem
die => der
das => dem


And for the indefinite article


ein (masculine) => einem
eine => einer
ein (neuter) => einem


And for the singular and plural personal pronouns "I," "you," "he," "she," , "it," "we," and "they":


ich => mir
du => dir
(formal "you") => Ihnen
=> ihm
=> ihr
=> ihm
ihr => euch

wir => uns
=> ihnen
Sie (formal "you" plural) => Ihnen


Remember too that if there is no definite or indefinite article, the adjective must still take the case appropriate for its gender with the preposition.


The common German prepositions that require the dative case of nouns and pronouns are aus, außer, bei, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von, and zu. Here are some examples from Yabla German. The article in the feminine noun die Mode becomes der in the dative case.


Die gute alte Kaffeemaschine

The good old coffee machine

ist dabei etwas aus der Mode geraten.

has to some extent gone out of style in the process.

Caption 12, Eva zeigt uns - wie man Kaffee kocht

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Here, the nominative pronoun ich becomes mir in the dative case:


In diesem Haus wohnen außer mir

In this house live, other than me,

noch mehrere Familien in Mietwohnungen.

several other families in rental apartments.

Captions 5-6, Zu Besuch bei Jenny - Am Hauseingang

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Here, the indefinite feminine article eine (for die Flasche) becomes einer in the dative case, and the neuter ein (for das Glas) becomes the dative einem:


Ob es sich bei einer Flasche oder einem Glas um eine Mehrweg- oder Pfandflasche handelt...

With a bottle or a jar, whether it happens to be returnable or a bottle with a deposit...

Caption 48, Eva erklärt - Mülltrennung

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The dative preposition gegenüber is a bit unusual, in that when it is used on its own, it falls after the item it modifies:


Dem Clubhaus gegenüber liegt ein feiner Sandstrand.

Across from the clubhouse lies a fine sandy beach.

Caption 31, Golf - in Wien

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You can see this above in the correct word order dem Clubhaus gegenüber (not gegenüber dem Clubhaus!). If you wanted to place gegenüber before das Clubhaus, however, you must add the dative preposition von to the mix. So it would also be acceptable to formulate the sentence above as Gegenüber von dem Clubhaus liegt ein feiner Sandstrand. This would be translated exactly the same into English.


Here, the nominative pronoun ihr becomes euch in the dative case:


Jasmin und ich werden heute mit euch üben.

Jasmin and I will practice with you today.

Caption 2, Diane erklärt - Fragewörter

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And here, the masculine indefinite article ein (for der Monat) becomes the dative einem:


Erst nach einem Monat bleibt das Küken fast den ganzen Tag alleine.

Only after a month, the chick stays alone almost all day.

Caption 30, Alpenseen - Kühle Schönheiten

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The feminine definite article die (for die Römerzeit) becomes the dative der:


... seit der Römerzeit ein befestigter Alpenübergang.

... since Roman times a fortified Alpine crossing.

Caption 23, Die letzten Paradiese - Die Schönheit der Alpen 2

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With the preposition von, the nominative pronoun er becomes the dative pronoun ihm:


Es ist genau das, was seine Anhänger von ihm hören wollen.

It is exactly what his supporters want to hear from him.

Caption 25, Tagesschau - Amtseinführung von Donald Trump 

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And finishing up our A to Z of dative pronouns, the nominative pronoun du becomes dir in the dative:


Sorry, das läuft auf meinem alten Laptop nicht. Da müssen wir zu dir.

Sorry, this doesn't run on my old laptop. We'll have to go to your place.

Caption 35, Die Pfefferkörner - Gerüchteküche

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Further Learning
To recap, the common German prepositions that require the dative case of nouns and pronouns are aus, außer, bei, gegenüber, mit, nach, seit, von, and zu. Go to Yabla German to look for more examples of prepositions whose nouns, pronouns, and adjectives take only the dative case. Also review Part I in this series about prepositions that require the accusative case.

Strong and Weak Verbs

Have you come across the phrase “strong verbs” or “weak verbs” in your studies and wondered what exactly is meant? 


Strong verbs have a stem-vowel change in one or more tenses, for example in the simple past or present tense. In other words, they are irregular. The sign of a strong verb is that its participle will end with -en.


For example, with genießen ("to enjoy") the present tense conjugations do not have a vowel change, but the past tense does (genoss). The participle accordingly ends with


Genießt euren Kaffee, wie auch immer ihr den zubereitet.

Enjoy your coffee, regardless of how you make it.

Caption 39, Eva zeigt uns - wie man Kaffee kocht

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Und ich habe an einer sehr renommierten Universität ein sehr umfangreiches Marketingstudium genossen.

And I enjoyed a very comprehensive marketing program at a very renowned university.

Captions 26-27, Berufsleben - das Vorstellungsgespräch - Part 2

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In the case of the verb empfehlen (“to recommend”), the present and simple past tenses both have a different stem vowel change. Once again, the participle ends with -en:


Neben dem Stadtrad empfiehlt sich vor allem die Innsbruck Card für die Erkundung.

In addition to the city bike, above all, the Innsbruck card can be recommended for the exploration.

Captions 26-27, 48 h in Innsbruck - Sehenswürdigkeiten & Tipps

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Schafft das keine Linderung, wird empfohlen, die Höhe des Computerbildschirms zu überprüfen.

[If] that doesn't bring relief, it's recommended [that you] check the height of the computer screen.

Captions 19-20, Nackenverspannungen - Entspannungstipps für den Büroalltag

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Weak verbs are more “regular” in the sense that all tenses resemble the infinitive. The participle ends with -t. Let’s look at the verb reisen


Wenn man gemeinsam reist, ist es immer besser.

It's always better if you travel together.

Caption 20, Traumberuf - Windsurfer

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Dafür reiste das Filmteam bis nach Korsika.

For this the film team traveled as far away as Corsica.

Caption 35, Hell - Science-Fiction-Kinotipp

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Für zwei Wochen bin ich durchs Land gereist.

For two weeks, I traveled across the country.

Caption 20, Grete - eine Freiwillige in Israel

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Now, of course, because German is never easy, there are exceptions in the form of irregular weak verbs. These have a participle with -rather than -en, but also have a stem vowel change. Many common verbs, such as bringen and wissen, fall into this category. 


Ein Benefiz-Fußballspiel brachte sie jedoch alle zusammen auf den Rasen.

A benefit football match nevertheless brought them all together on the turf.

Caption 2, Fußball - Prominente beim Benefizspiel

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Aschenputtel wurde in den Palast gebracht.

Cinderella was brought to the palace.

Caption 105, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Aschenputtel

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Further Learning
When you learn a new verb on Yabla German, always find out immediately whether it's strong or weak and memorize this as well as its definition. Here is an extensive list of strong and irregular verbs. Look up the participles of niesen versus genießen and of the verbs winken and stinken, which are particularly tricky. 

Etwas is not the plural of etwa

But then you hopefully knew that already! You may not, however, be completely familiar with differences between the two words and the different meanings they can have in specific contexts. 


The most common translation of the pronoun etwas is "something":


Etwas hat sich schon verändert.

Something has indeed changed.

Caption 11, 2raumwohnung - Achtung fertig

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Und doch hat diese Ausstellung etwas sehr Besonderes.

However, this exhibition has something very distinct about it.

Caption 5, DDR zum Anfassen - Ganz tief im Westen

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However, when etwas is used as an adjective pronoun (usually a possessive, or noting quantities of something), it can be translated as "a bit," "somewhat," or less commonly, the simple "some":


Planktonfresser hin oder her, ihm ist doch etwas mulmig geworden,

Plankton eaters or not, he did get a bit queasy

Caption 25, Abenteuer Nordsee - Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Bachforellen sind etwas kleiner als die ursprünglich hier lebenden Marmoratas.

Freshwater trout are somewhat smaller than the marble trout that originally lived here.

Caption 1, Alpenseen - Kühle Schönheiten

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...verlor das Fahrrad zwischenzeitlich etwas an Bedeutung.

...the bicycle lost some of its significance for a while.

Caption 25, 200. Geburtstag - Die Geschichte des Fahrrads in 2 Minuten

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The adverb etwa can be translated as "about," "approximately" or "something like." It is most often used before a numerical measurement:


Und es sind etwa 35 Kilometer von den

And it's about 35 kilometers from the

weißen Klippen von Dover zu den Sanddünen von Calais.

white cliffs of Dover to the sand dunes of Calais.

Caption 20, Abenteuer Nordsee - Unter Riesenhaien und Tintenfischen

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Jährlich werden pro Person in Deutschland etwa 160 Liter Kaffee getrunken.

Every year, approximately 160 liters of coffee are drunk in Germany per person.

Caption 5, Eva zeigt uns - wie man Kaffee kocht

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Das bedeutet etwa „Ende des Sommers“.

That means something like "end of the summer."

Caption 6, Cettina erklärt - Halloween

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The adverb etwa can also be used as a grammatical particle, which is often difficult to directly translate, but in this case lends a suggestion of disbelief to the statement: 


Rauchst du etwa wieder?

Are you smoking again?

Caption 4, 12 heißt: Ich liebe dich - Kapitel 3: Erfolgreiche Vernehmung

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Zweifelst du etwa an der Aufrichtigkeit meiner Gefühle?

Are you doubting the sincerity of my feelings?

Caption 9, Küss mich, Frosch - Die Zeiten haben sich geändert

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As you see in the two examples above, etwa is not directly translated. A more literary translation of the above examples, which gives them more of an expression of disbelief on the part of the speakers, could respectively be: "But you aren't smoking again?" and "But you aren't doubting the sincerity of my feelings?"


Further Learning
Read the definition and examples given for the particle usage of etwa on Duden, and search for etwa and etwas on Yabla German to see other examples of these words used in a real-world context.